Black metal boogeyman Varg Vikernes to be released from prison: Let’s ignore him

This was bound to happen sooner or later.

Blabbermouth.net reported earlier this week that black metal boogeyman Varg Vikernes, aka Count Grishnackh, is about to be released after 16 years in a Norwegian prison.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know Vikernes’ violent, meaningless story. In August, 1993, Vikernes – who was then bassist for the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem – stabbed to death fellow band member Euronymous (real name Oystein Aarseth). Euronymous was a godfather of the black metal scene: When not playing in Mayhem, Euronymous ran a black metal record store and his own record label, Deathlike Silence. Vikernes’ first Burzum album “Aske,” was released by Deathlike Silence.

Vikernes was also convicted in participating in three of the church arsons perpetrated by some of the black metalists that destroyed 24 historic churches across Norway beginning in 1992.

In Sound of the Beast: The Complete, Headbanging History of Heavy Metal, author Ian Christe writes that Vikernes’ had been criticizing Euronymous as being a “fat, lazy communist.” Christe writes that Vikernes believed Euronymous’ “lifestyle failed to uphold his ultraevil persona.”

The trial was a media sensation. Christe writes that Vikernes told the court: “I want to create a large following, burn all churches and throw Christianity out. My church-burning army is to consist of young people.” Once in prison, Vikernes apparently turned to Nazism and wrote “Vargsmal,” which Christe describes as Vikernes’ “Mein Kampf.”

Behind bars, Vikernes wasn’t exactly a model prisoner – he attempted to escape in 2003 – and was denied parole four times. In prison, Vikernes became something of a Nazi martyr – but has been quoted in interviews saying he has not been in contact with Nazi groups for some time.

What do we do now that Vikernes, this ghost of black metal’s past, is once again back to haunt us?

After reading the latest press accounts on Blabbermouth, my initial impression is that Vikernes is not terribly smart. I know that’s a caustic statement, but don’t get mad yet, hear me out.

The murder of Euronymous still stirs up emotions and – if reading Blabbermouth is any gauge – there are a lot of people out there who are not happy to see Vikernes released. However, the Burzum Web site has been quick to publish details about Vikernes’ family (he has a wife and young children: Apparently, murderers get conjugal visits in Norwegian prison), and owns a farm in the Norwegian town of Bø, where he and his family will be living after his release.

I ask you: If you were a perpetrator of a crime that still inspires violent emotions in people 16 years after the fact, would you release information about your family and voluntarily all but allow your home address to be posted on the Internet? By doing so, isn’t Vikernes all but asking for trouble for himself and – even worse – for his children?

If someone can explain how Vikernes’ decision to allow the release of such details on his own Web site was intelligent, please do so. From where I sit at the moment, those actions look plain dumb, if not actively hazardous to his health.

I’ve heard some of Vikernes’ work as Burzum. “Aske” was underwhelming, but “Filosofem” had some very impressive ambient black metal moments – particularly “Jesus død” and “Beholding the Daughters of the Firmament.” It’s easy to listen to “Filosofem” and hear how the album influenced some of the black metal bands that followed. I’ve heard bits and pieces of other Burzum albums (some that were recorded after Vikernes entered prison), but none of it measured up to the best moments of “Filosofem” … which is my way of suggesting that Vikernes ceased to be musically relevant 16 years ago.

The best thing that could happen would be for Vikernes to disappear quietly from view by retiring to his farm and staying there – not appearing in the media and not making music.

He has nothing to contribute, and his presence in the media is nothing more than a reminder of the stupid crimes the Norwegian teens committed in the early 1990s in the name of black metal. Frankly, the genre has moved on, and doesn’t need Vikernes, with his bloody, burning past and Nazi baggage, dragging it back down to the level of tabloid, television talk show “journalism.”

I’m not discounting the belief that the early Norwegian black metal bands actively felt repressed by modern society. I also understand they had strong objections to the way the Viking culture of Norway had been brutally destroyed by Christianity between 995 and 1015 A.D. (again, I’m citing Ian Christe’s Sound of the Beast for those dates). The early black metal bands of Norway felt that injustice acutely – perhaps in the way only teenagers, who are often passionate beyond reason – could feel it.

But Vikernes wasn’t a revolutionary: He was a highly disturbed teen, who committed vapid, pointless acts without reason or justification. He doesn’t deserve to be remembered, and surely shouldn’t be idolized.

Maybe being released from prison will have the effect of defanging Vikernes’ power as black metal’s “symbol” or icon. The smartest thing people who listen to black metal can do is pretend Vikernes is invisible. His detractors should do the same – the world doesn’t need Vikernes as a martyr for National Socialism.

The best way to take away Vikernes’ power is to ignore him.

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6 Comments

  1. I kind of disagree that posting info about his family etc on the internet endangers him. This man has actually killed another human being, I seriously doubt people people would fuck with him. Sure you can be tough on the internet, but this guy is/was a murderer. By the way, you should really listen to Det Som Engang Var and Hvis Lyset Tar Oss if you want to hear Burzum at its best. Vikerenes is a living contradiction due to his wildly varying beliefs, but his music is truly something to behold.

    • You make a good point. Like you say, anyone hiding behind a Web handle on Blabbermouth can spout off about how much they hate Vikernes, and surely most of those guys are just dumb fools who like to talk big while hiding their real names/identities. But I still think posting anything about his family and living arrangements post-prison was a bad move: After all, it only takes one wacko to do damage.

      I’ll look up the albums you mentioned, thanks. I don’t remember being moved by much Burzum other than “Filosofem,” but it’ll be good to revisit. I do think “Filosofem” paved the way for a lot of the best black metal that followed.

      Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.

  2. ok, i know u said to forget about varg but if ur listening to his music its going to be hard and talking about him and the music wont help, think about it, if u meet a person that like BM and u show him/her “filosofem” would end up asking question about it. anyways may point to all this is (shit happens), so forget about his past and his stupid actions, and just move on, we don’t really now what happen, we weren’t there and we don’t really know the truth. i read a lot of what happen with varg, and i also read his story of what happen and what the media had posted. He kill a man, either for self defense or not what ever it was, we really don’t know i think the only one who would know a little more would be Snorre. but as far as i heard he was out side.

  3. kurzum makes most sense from what i’ve read so far. we don’t really know what really happened back then.
    it’s so easy to label someone only from hearsay and what the “journalists” lead us to believe.
    Here is his REAL opinion about nazism: http://www.burzum.org/eng/library/a_burzum_story07.shtml
    He made indeed some big mistakes in his past, which were more or less justifiable or at least understandable. It’s stupid to say he’s a raging psycho as long as he is capable of bringing logical arguments to any action he did and admit his own faults.
    And it’s wrong to place him in the same pot with the other braindead so-called satanists of the early norwegian black metal movement. Varg was a rebel even among them, he disagreed with their stupid and superficial “sex, drugs’n rocknroll” ideas and sheep-like behavior.
    He’s not the same troubled teenager anymore and I think ignoring him wouldn’t do anyone any good. he has still much to offer and he deserves the chance to prove his value if he wants to do that. It would be a good occasion to de-mistify this stupid aura that surrounds the black metal movement and to prove that it’s not about murder and nazism.

  4. Vikernes is a Moronic, over sensationalized, bloated self impressed dipsh*t. If given the chance, I would do more than “Talk on the internet”. He killed a friend to further his own infamy and ensure album sales. Hardly the guru most weaker minded make him out to be. I totally agree with this author as Vikernes shows his weakminded flipflopping on religion and personal philosophy , Which changes as most do underwear. He states he was “Never a Satanist” But, Is that NOT the persona they wished to expose?… He killed Aareth on purpose. ANYONE who has ever watched his interviews on the subject can easily see he has rehearsed his version of the events to sound like self defense… Plus, He buys his own bullsh*t… The Dude deserves the Karma heading his way, Perhaps his posting of his info was to give karma a helping hand…

    I)

    • How about you try and learn what you’re talking about before you type something as ridiculous as that you fucking idiot.


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