No other country delivers "Pure Black Energy" as masterfully as Norway. Groups like 1349, Slavia, Taakeferd, Svarttjern, Sarcoma Inc., Wurdulak, and Vesen will fill your black heart with psychopathic ecstasy. These superb examples of top-notch artistry all confirm the veracity of Fenriz's ungrammatical 1994 statement: "Norway sind King." The surplus of talent in Norway is truly shocking. The quantity of amazing Norwegian bands seems as inestimable as the trees in the forest. Yet, the sad fact that the names of the vast majority of these groups have not exactly spread abroad like wildfire is due cause to make you want to march over to your local radio station and demand justice in the form of fair airplay. To fail to have explored Norwegian metal beyond the movement's most prominent spearheads, such as Mayhem and Darkthrone, certainly would not be a "Sign of an Open Eye."
That said, there are so many incredible Norwegian bands that do not receive enough recognition in part because they have yet to release more than one full-length album. Some of the underground outfits that we will be discussing have never even made it past the demo phase and therefore remain as pure as fjord water. For instance, the Stavanger black metal band Storm dropped a lone, 3-song demo called Wintermoon (1993) that you are sure to love. “Desecrator,” is an especially catchy tune. Vocalist Ravn’s low, authoritative growls are worth being murdered for: “Your feet are buried in cold virgin’s blood. I throw your ankles to the sky. Your blood runs cold upon your neck. You knew I’d do all in my power to see a virgin die. Forget it bitch. You won’t be heard. Oh, desperate you.” (Note: There have been many other black metal musicians who have gone by the name Ravn, or “Raven.”) Storm was also the name of a folk, Viking metal project for which Satyr enlisted the help of Fenriz. Although singer Kari Rueslåtten participated in the short-lived effort, she would soon regret her decision to work with these two provocateurs. Every metalhead should know Storm’s remarkable album, Nordavind (1995), which was published by Satyr’s Moonfog Productions. In 1997, Fenriz had stated that he planned to record a second Storm album if he and Satyr could gather the funds to pay for a new place to practice. We can’t imagine why this charming duo could have been booted from their first rehearsal space. Although Fenriz has claimed that most folk metal should be “deleted,” Storm (and Isengard) prove that the Darkthrone founder is one of the subgenre’s pioneers and most skilled figures.
Gaahlskagg, which was founded by Gaahl and Skaag, is another one of our favorite collaborations. Gaahlskagg delighted necrophiliacs everywhere with the full-length masterpiece Erotic Funeral (2000). (This effort followed on the heels of the 5-song disc Erotic Funeral Party I / Styggmyrs triumf , which was split with Stormfront.) The group recruited the help of Skaag’s brother, Thurzur, before heading into the studio to record drums and guitars for their sophomore album. Sadly, their work was destroyed in 2001. Before re-recording was possible, Gaahlskagg was forced to indefinitely suspend their plans due to Gaahl’s activities with Gorgoroth at the time. Much to our chagrin, Gaahlskagg has never reunited. When God Seed was first formed by Gaahl and King ov Hell, the project seemed like it could be the greatest thing since Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In January 2012, Gaahl’s God Seed famously released Live at Wacken, which features Gorgoroth material. Despite God Seed’s enormous potential, the collaboration split up after completing their debut studio album, I Begin (2012). Gaahls Wyrd has also only issued one studio album. However, there is no reason to doubt that this active and flourishing collective will bear much more fruit. Last year, Gaahls Wyrd took our breaths away with the EP The Humming Mountain. Along vaguely similar lines, we recommend Bak de Syv Fjell, which was formed by Wardruna’s Kvitrafn and Haavard (not to be confused with ex-Ulver’s “Haavard,” or Håvard Jørgensen). Bak de Syv Fjell has yet to treat their fans to an album, despite promises of a reunion and a full-length release.
Snorre Ruch’s Thorns is certainly the most influential black metal band to have released a single album to date, aside from a compilation disc. You may be familiar with the following one-album solo projects that were started by already well-known musicians: Abbath’s I with Demonaz and King ov Hell; Ov Hell with Shagrath; and Demonaz’s eponymous band. Some things are too good to last. This truism certainly applies to the “True Narcotic Black Metal” band Secht, which was formed by Carpathian Forest’s Vrangsinn and ex-Gehenna’s Dirge Rep. Secht (2006) showcases guest vocalists like Gaahl, Darkthrone’s Nocturno Culto, Aura Noir’s Apollyon, Nattefrost, Taake’s Hoest, Tsjuder’s Nag, ex-Carpathian Forest’s J. Nordavind, etc. Could Secht be one of the most underrated pieces of experimental music ever?! Surprisingly, Nocturno also performed with Mayhem’s Hellhammer on the first demo for a band called Vidsyn, the bassist of which currently plays in Nordjevel. After this, Vidsyn would only release one more song.
Norwegian bands are a bit like Alice in Chains’ “Rooster” — the Vietnam-veteran father of songwriter and lyricist, Jerry Cantrell — who served as the subject of the hit single by the same name. Bullets may rain down upon Norway’s finest and all the forces in the firmament may conspire to spell their doom, but they rarely seem to die. Countless bands have made Irish exists from the “scene” for the respite ensured by obscurity. These collectives may keep their heads below water for years or even decades. Eventually, however, they often rear their ghastly mugs to bare a new set of shark’s teeth. You might have assumed that Ved Buens Ende had parted ways since they dropped their last effort 27 years ago, yet they are still performing. Ved Buens Ende is known for their sole album, Written in Waters (1995), which features Dødheimsgard’s Vicotnik, Arcturus’ Skoll, and Aura Noir’s Aggressor. Similarly, Vemod is still active, even though their latest and only full-length album, Venter på stormene (2012), is already 10 years old. In 2021, Vemod made the brave decision to play material from their debut demo, which they had never played as an ensemble, at Bergen’s Beyond the Gates Festival. Ljå from Stavanger is another enduring one-album band that has not released new content for the past 10 years, despite a promise in 2020 that a new record was being completed. After 9 years, Svarthaueg is preparing to enter the studio for their sophomore album. Sigtyr is a great project that has put out 4 demos since 1999, yet they remain unsigned. Fortunately, they have not given up. Although older bands clearly have their merit, we would also like to acknowledge a few newer bands that fit our criteria: Enevelde, Øksehovud, Vinterkult, Vevstol. (The first three groups are solo projects, and we assume that Vevstol is a one-man band as well.)
8 out of our 10 main picks are black metal outfits. After all, black metal is the pride and shame of the gentle country known as Norway, where empathy reigns supreme. Although Nocturno Culto said: “I come from a land of systematic erasure of optimistic and positiveness.” Nevertheless, if you just eliminate “of systematic erasure” from the sentence, you have Norway in a nutshell. (Contrary to what one might expect, Norway’s misanthropic music unites people from across the globe. It has become an international phenomenon. This is illustrated by the fact that it is now a common practice for bands originating outside of Scandinavia to adopt Norwegian names.) Because “True Norwegian Black Metal” is a thing as rare as true love, we have decided to half-heartedly eschew labels for the day. We are mostly focusing on bands that are “necro,” old-school, primitive, and raw. By nature, black metal is the ritualistic “Grim and Frostbitten” pursuit of one’s inner beast. The aim of black metal is the “Carving [of] a Giant” and the creation of new values. It is a Luddite’s art. Thus, we welcome sounds that are shabby and organic. Along with our main 10 bands, we will be including clips from further honorable mentions. Join us in our celebration of extreme music as we reveal our list of killer Norwegian bands that have only released one album at most.
In 1992, Fimbulwinter recorded a rehearsal demo that was later remastered and released as the album Servants of Sorcery (1994). The 7th and final track, “Hellfire,” was an addition. This ingot of madness contains a crowd-pleaser called “Black Metal Storm,” which is followed by a cover of Celtic Frost’s “Morbid Tales.” Servants of Sorcery is sure to satisfy your bestial cravings for impish, forest-dwelling black metal. Moonlit and shrouded in diabolical mysticism, this most excellent album has it all. Did Fimbulwinter learn from Darkthrone’s A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992) that a hint of cowbell is what all evil music really needs?! (Fenriz: “Ever since I heard ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper,’ I just knew I needed cowbell in my life.) At times, Servants of Sorcery beckons slight comparisons to Darkthrone’s first demo, Land of Frost (1988). Fimbulwinter features Dimmu Borgir’s Shagrath on guitar, Arcturus and ex-Ulver’s Skoll on bass, and Necronos on rhythm guitar and vocals. Regardless of what BM purists might think of Dimmu Borgir it is categorically imperative to acknowledge the magnificence of Fimbulwinter. This band will reignite your burning cold passion for underground music.
Strid, or “Battle,” has never released a full album. All the same, Strid has accomplished infinitely more than most bands could ever hope to achieve. Before taking the name Strid, this group worked under the monikers Malfeitor and Battle. In 1993, Strid released the single-song demo End of Life, which sustains itself for slightly over 11 minutes. This classic is so amazing that it will render you in a state of stupefaction that is worse than speechlessness. End of Life will make you want to stuff a sock in your mouth as you walk over to the window, so that no one will hear you scream on the way down. This demo packs more self-annihilating power than any modern rendition of Hamlet.
Strid is often credited as a pioneer of depressive suicidal black metal. Nevertheless, this description is a bit misleading and welcomes comparisons that do not always do Strid a service. Above all, Strid should be defined by their individuality. Although “End of Life” has retrospectively been referred to as the first depressive suicidal black metal song, it actually seems that Burzum ironically beat Strid to the punch. The implicit comic value of such a statement, however, is further reason to take labels with a grain of salt. Yet, it is impossible to ignore the reality that Strid has influenced great DSBM metal artists like Shining’s Niklas Kvarforth as well as some grating clone bands.
In 1994, Strid released the 2-song EP Strid. This masterpiece — beautiful, misty, and damp — has more atmosphere than you are likely to find anywhere on your playlist. Strid evokes visions of “Norway in September.” Yet, it could put any “Black Winter Day” to shame with its “Ravishing Grimness.” This eponymous EP is wonderfully gloomy without being histrionic. At a later point, Strid’s 3 songs were re-issued within a split release that also contained Malfeitor content. This compilation album was called Strid (2007) as well. A couple of Strid’s members have sadly passed away: Lars Fredrik Bergstrøm and Espen “Storm” Andersen.
Strid is currently active and performing. The group’s only remaining member from the ’90s is Ravn Harjar, who joined in 1994. Aside from Ravn, Strid’s roster consists of three ex-Dødheimsgard’s members, including Fleurety’s Svein Egil Hatlevik, and Dødheimsgard’s mastermind and current helmsman, Vicotnik. (Expect a new Dødheimsgard record soon, by the way.) Because of Vicotnik’s reputation as one of BM’s greatest and most innovative figures, he was a natural candidate to join Strid’s lineup. (The drummer and backing vocalist of Vicotnik’s former band Manes [not to be confused with the group from Trondheim], Thamuz, appeared on Strid, as a result of his contributions to the Malfeitor demo Pandemonium .) Although Strid began working on a new album in 2010, Vicotnik has confirmed that it will most likely never see the bleak light of day.
Today, we are doing the one of the only things that is more triggering than burning churches: We are recommending a great Christian metal duo. Schaliach was formed in 1995 by Ole Børud, the son of a gospel singer, and Peter Dalbakk. Many black metallers, including Fenriz, have stated that Christianity does not belong in black metal. While there are some quality Christian BM bands, efforts to combine these great but incompatible “religions” (Yes, BM can be a religion!) are generally misguided. Unblack metal bands are often unintentionally hilarious. Schaliach, however, was not an unblack metal band. Rather, they were a melodic death metal band with doom, goth, classical, and black metal influences. By finding their own sound, Schaliach was able to reconcile form and content to an extent that remains admirable though still imperfect. The image chosen for the 2005 reissue of Schaliach’s album, Sonrise (1996), which displays a statue of an angel, is a good metaphor for how Schaliach was able to carve a tribute to the divine out of mostly hard and heavy elements.
You can find Schaliach on the split release Northern Lights (1996) with Groms, Antestor, and Extol. Ole Børud has played with Antestor and Extol. It might come as a surprise to some metalheads to learn that Mayhem’s Hellhammer has played on an EP and an album with Antestor — a Christian unblack metal band that started as a death-doom metal band. Hellhammer told Scarlet Metal: “I have no problems with any themes including Christian like the band Antestor I worked with. I knew going into Antestor that it was going to be controversial — it stirred up a lot of shit in the black metal world and I got a kick out of that!” Obviously, neither Hellhammer nor Necrobutcher approves of destroying Norway’s cultural heritage through the practice of church arson. The point is that Christianity and black metal are not always as opposed as they may outwardly seem. The quest for purity and truth is obviously something that they both share. As the Christian poet Novalis penned: “True anarchy is the generative element of religion. Out of the annihilation of all existing institutions she raises her glorious head…” By this definition, arsonists like Hades Almighty’s Jørn Inge Tunsberg and faith in Christ must go together like Hall & Oates.
In 2017, Ole Børud and Peter Dalbakk formed the progressive death metal group Fleshkiller. Peter has fronted Vardøger, another Christian extreme metal group. Ole Børud never ceases to seek new creative opportunities. This versatile artist has experimented with the most varied genres. Ole has released several solo albums, such as the funk-pop effort Keep Movin (2011). This vibrant piece of music may just cause satanists to defenestrate themselves. For ears accustomed to hearing black metal, Keep Movin is as brutal as it gets.
Kvist, which remained active from 1993-1997, was founded in Hønefoss by three friends — bassist and vocalist Tom Hagen, drummer Endre Bjotveit, and guitarist and keyboardist “Vergrimm,” or Hallvard Wennersberg Hagen. (These 3 musicians had previously worked together under the epithet Urd Verðaine og Skuld.) Kvist spawned two demos in 1994 before releasing the album For kunsten maa vi evig vike (1996).
“Morten Shax,” or “Sorgar,” whose real name is Morten Kaalhus, started a parallel group in 1993 called Dim Nagel. Morten explained to podcast host and Mork mastermind, Thomas Eriksen, that he asked the Kvist musicians to join him because of their enormous talent, which had already earned them a deal with Avantgarde Music. Although Dim Nagel was Morten’s very first band, his buddies in Kvist obliged. Morten told Eriksen an unbelievable story that attests to the Kvist musicians’ merit: One day, Dim Nagel was rehearsing in Endre’s basement when his mother called him upstairs to receive an important call. Emperor had phoned Endre to ask him to audition. Surprisingly, Endre allegedly gave Emperor the equivalent of the middle finger. He told them that he was only (about) 14-years-old and therefore could not travel to Oslo. (Kvist’s For kunsten maa vi evig vike was recorded in Oslo.) Although Dim Nagel eventually signed with Malicious Records, which was counted bands like Gorgoroth and #2 on our list among their clients, the label had gone bankrupt by the time Dim Nagel had material to present.
The entrepreneurial Morten, who had started a fanzine earlier, then began a record label that partnered with Urgehal. After shutting down his label, Morten started Endezzma. He recruited his friend Urgehal’s and Vulture Lord’s “Trondr Nefas,” or Trond Bråthen, who had actually played on guitar on Kvist’s first demo. Trondr tragically passed away in 2012. Although he experienced the release of Endezzma’s first EP in 2007, his death took place before the 2012 debut of Endezzma’s first album, which Morten has clarified was 60% Trondr’s creation. Morten revealed to Thomas Eriksen that the 34-year-old genius died of a stroke. Trondr continues to speak through his art from beyond the grave. All of the music, except the final song, on Vulture Lord’s Desecration Rite (2021) was written by Nefas. Make sure to check out Vulture Lord’s split album with Black Altar, Deathiah Manifesto, which dropped on February 18. As a teaser, Vulture Lord first dropped the song “Hark! The Hymns of War” on January 28. While you are at it, take some time to appreciate Vulture Lord’s Sorath Northgrove’s vocals on Ulvehyrde’s debut album, Englemakersken (2021).
After Kvist’s “Svartedal,” you can find Faun’s second demo, Betrothed unto Death (1995), below. The 3-demo project was the brainchild of Sorath Northgrove. On Bethrothed unto Death, a musician called Razaak played bass and drums, whereas ex-Vulture Lord’s Diabolus had collaborated with Northgrove on the previous demo, Into the Web of Winter (1994). Sorath Northgrove told Occult Black Metal Zine the following in regard to his musical journey: “We went back and forth through styles, changing name for each time and also due to many line-up changes. Deformed Corpse was grindcore, Interment was death, Energumen was black, Coffin had a new line-up as well as Faun, the circle was ended with me teaming up with Diabolus again for Vulture Lord returning to our roots of death [actually black] and thrash metal.” Sorath revealed to MetalBite that he has discussed the possibility of reviving Faun, which has not recorded new content since 1995.
Svikt’s savage and bleak album, I elendighetens selskap (2011), features Cornu, Hrafn, and Skroemt. The group’s only other release is the vinyl Blasphemy and Betrayal (2013), which was split with Kirkebrann. On Blasphemy and Betrayal, Skroemt simply acted as a backing vocalist, whereas he had previously played drums as well. Yet, he still wrote Blasphemy and Betrayal’s fourth song, “Wetiko.”
Although Skroemt is no longer with Svikt, he and Hrafn play together in Kirkebrann. Skroemt, Hrafn, and Cornu have also joined forces with ex-Kirkebrann’s JK in a project called Svidd. Their only official EP is the awesome Katha Kumba (2015). Check out one of the 2010 demo versions of Katha Kumba’s “Vaner” in the second clip below. A more polished version of “Vaner,” was released in 2011 in the form of a music video. Svidd has been showcased on the compilation album HOLY FUCKING ANTIChristmas Vol. IV & VIII (2011, 2015). Hrafn and Januz currently play guitar and bass respectively in Vrangsinn and the Arsonists, which has covered Pixies’ “Where is My Mind?”
Despite the various projects that Svikt’s band members have undertaken, Svikt is technically still active. Svikt has been joined by drummer Cato Jensen, who has played with some wonderful and perverse outfits like Sarcoma Inc. Jensen has also participated in a project called Likfunn, which we would like to highlight by directing you toward the third video below. Likfunn’s only release to date is a demo called PreProd, Utredning for Behandling (2019).
6. Thou Shalt Suffer
Samoth and Ihsahn officially began working under the epithet Thou Shalt Suffer in 1991. At times, the band featured drummer Ronny Johnsen and/or drummer/bassist Thorbjørn Akkerhaugen. Thou Shalt Suffer recorded a rehearsal demo, the EP Open the Mysteries of Your Creation (1991), and the demo Into the Woods of Belial (1991) — a compilation disc by the same name was issued in 1997. Samoth actually played drums on the Into the Woods Belial demo while Vidar Våer, or “Ildjarn” played bass. Ihsahn was responsible for the guitar and vocals. Thou Shalt Suffer played some live gigs with bands like Old Funeral, which was co-founded by Abbath Doom Occulta, who quit to co-found Immortal. (Varg Vikernes and Demonaz were among Old Funeral’s transitory members.)
When speaking with the fanzine Anno in 1991, Samoth explained Thou Shalt Suffer’s quick demise: “Unfortunately, the rest of the band wasn’t into pure evilness, true underground and stuff like that, so they are out. We will go on as a two-piece band for a while, but we hope to get some new brutal members in the future.” Although Samoth obviously appreciated certain influential death metal acts, he was annoyed by all the clone bands. Later in his interview with Anno, Samoth made the eerily accurate prediction: “Death Metal is a very big trend now, but I don’t think that will be forever. Maybe Black Metal will be the next big trend. I really hope not. I think we just have to wait and see.” Although Samoth left TSS, Ihsahn confirmed when speaking with Slayer Mag that they had begun collaborating on new material together after Into the Woods of Belial.
Samoth and Ihsahn would release their first demo as Emperor in 1992. After finding success with Emperor, Ihsahn eventually dropped Somnium, under the Thou Shalt Suffer name in 2000. Technically, Somnium is Thou Shalt Suffer’s first and only album. The material was recorded from 1991-1999. Yet, musically speaking, Somnium has nothing in common with the collective effort that was known as Thou Shalt Suffer. During an interview with Emperor’s former drummer, the then incarcerated Faust, Ihsahn explained: “…I needed something to do all by myself, without anyone else’s point of view interfering with my ideas.” Somnium was Ihsahn’s stab at making a one-man ambient neoclassical record that even your grandfather will love. It is an instrumental undertaking that only contains a few lines.
We cannot move on from this section without noting that the duo Ildjarn-Nidhogg is among Norway’s most important one-album bands. Ildjarn, who is regarded as a pioneer, currently serves as a huge inspiration for countless black metal musicians. Ildjarn stopped making music after Ildjarn-Nidhogg’s Hardangervidda (2002), which dates to 1997, when his 4-track recorder seems to have broken. This device had been used for Thou Shalt Suffer’s Into the Woods of Belial. Ildjarn told Death Metal Underground: “The 4-tracker is now destroyed, so I can never make any more Ildjarn music. The sound would not be the one I’m after.” As a solo artist, Ildjarn has issued 4 original, full-length albums. After his retirement, he dropped 3 EPs, 2 of which boasted Ihsahn on vocals; Ildjarn-Nidhogg’s EP Hardangervidda Part 2; and some compilations. All fans of extreme music need to hear Gospels for the Sick (2005) by Samoth’s supergroup Scum with Faust, The Wretched End’s Cosmocrator, and Turbonegro’s Happy Tom. The punk-BM hybrid band was fronted by the American musician Casey Chaos. Yet, Nocturno Culto sang the final song on Gospels for the Sick. Let these boys turn your stomach in the second video below.
This beloved band was founded in 2003. Yet, Mare waited until 2018 to unveil their debut album, Ebony Tower. Guitarist Nosophoros explained to Bardo Methodology that it had not been Mare’s original intention to complete a full-length album. This partially chanted magnum opus seems so much like a black liturgy that passively listening to it feels voyeuristic at best and downright blasphemous at worst. It is a hymn to the night and an extended black magical incantation. Ebony Tower is obviously a thoughtful and seasoned album. The second song, “Blood Across the Firmament,” contains the lyrics: “Sing sister, and let our voices be our song of sword, cutting through the dark of Chaos and Old Night. Painting the Heavens with blood and love.” Ebony Tower concludes with “Labyrinth of Dying Stars”: “Beyond books and religion, beyond mind and thought, beyond life and death in dark pristine wilderness, lieth the true altar of Satan.”
In addition to “Nosophoros,” whose real name is Esten Rødsten, this Nidrosian black metal band presently consists of 3 other members. “ⷚ,” or Øyvind Sundli, is Mare’s drummer. Mare’s multi-talented vocalist and guitarist, “HBM Azazil,” or simply “Azazil,” is a scholar with many monikers. Although his real name is Eskil Blix, you might know him as “Kvitrim.” “Luctus,” who is goes by “Wraath” in Behexen, completes Mare’s roster on bass.
The time that it took to create Ebony Tower was far from wasted. Mare’s members have been active in a variety of exciting projects. All of Mare’s current musicians, except Sundali, collaborated on Kaosrekviem (2012), Dark Sonority’s only official recording. Kaosrekviem is a thoroughly well-done concept EP with great lyrics, 3 original songs, and a Bathory cover. Dark Sonority’s most recent performance may have been at the Bergen-based Beyond the Gates festival in 2017. Mare appeared at the same festival in 2018. Mare’s former bassist, ex-Keep of Kalessin’s “Ghash,” or Magnus Hjertaas, formed the “sick black metal” band Aptorian Demon with other ex-Keep of Kalessin members in 2005. One of Aptorian Demon’s transient musicians, Morpheas, told the site Metallian as: “When I joined the band I was amazed because I couldn’t find any comparison to them. What they do is totally new.” Aptorian Demon only had one full-length album, Libertus (2012). It is actually unclear whether it is Sundli or the Italian-born musician Gionata Potenti, who handles drums on Libertus and recently celebrated the release of Darvaza’s Ascending Into Perdition (2022). Some of the lyrics to the first track, “Ignitus,” are especially amusing when set to Ghash’s outlandish vocals: “There are individuals who can’t control emotional states and lack the ability to feel empathy. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or to punishment!” (See below!) Also make sure to check out Aptorian Demon’s EP, Angst, jammer og fortvilelse (2005), on which Whoredrom Rife’s Vyl played the drums. Luctus has jammed live with Aptorian Demon. He and Azazil have played in the next band on our list. Luctus and Sundali saw the release of Beyond Man’s self-titled debut album last year. Azazil is also a member of the most excellent band Djevel with ex-Emperor’s Faust. Nosophoros also plays live with Djevel and the likes of Whoredom Rife.
We hope that you enjoyed the song by Dark Sonority above. Dark Sonority is the band that formed in 2012 after Kaosritual was struck by tragedy during its 7th year of existence. On April 30th, 2009, Kaosritual’s bassist and vocalist, “Mehimoloth,” or Steingrim Torson Brissach, was accidentally yet fatally shot in the head at 25 by his 20-year-old “best friend” at the latter’s Trondheim residence. Kaosritual’s only demo, Rituell Katarsis (2004), remains a testament to Mehimoloth’s talent. You can also admire his inhuman vocals on the album that followed, Svøpt morgenrød (2007), which has a harsher sound.
During his short life, Mehimoloth was able to accomplish an enormous amount of quality work. The multi-instrumentalist took part in bands like Castrum Doloris, Grenjar, and Selvhat that would have been appropriate for this list. Selvhat was Mehimoloth’s one-man project with Azazil on session drums. (Azazil has played with all of the bands that you will find mentioned in this section.) Mehimoloth notably fronted Celestial Bloodshed, which disbanded after his death. (Mare’s Luctus was a member of Celestial Bloodshed while Ghash played live with the band.)
Grimm’s lone recording is a demo tape called Nordisk Vinter (1993). Grimm himself played drums, acted as one of the guitarists, and wrote the music. J. Nordavind fulfilled miscellaneous roles while Nattefrost provided vocals. J. Nordavind and Nattefrost collaborated on the 1992 rehearsal demo for the short-lived and ill-named project The Childmolesters. Meanwhile, for reference, their band Enthrone, which was formed in 1990, became Carpathian Forest in 1992. Nattefrost, of course, still fronts Carpathian Forest while J. Nordavind is no longer with the band. Grimm would play bass on one of the tracks on Carpathian Forest’s third demo, “The Last Sigh of Nostalgia (Rehearsal).”
Nordisk vinter will connect you with your inner “Urmensch,” or “primeval man.” It is unfortunate that it was recorded only a month after Euronymous’ death, which obviously changed black metal for the worse and attracted an influx of posers. It’s disappointing that we do not have more material from Grimm. Perhaps Grimm was disgusted with what the scene had become, or perhaps he simply decided to pursue a stable job. After all, making criminally good music rarely pays.
In 2021, Liktjern finally released their debut album, I Ruiner, after 25 years. Liktjern has been rehearsing together since 1996. The group’s core has always consisted of childhood friends Kverke and Knokkelmann. Throughout Liktjern’s history, the band has been plagued by troubles of various sorts. Their first drummer, Christian R. Lundqvist, who joined in 1996, tragically took his life in 1998. In 1999, Knokkelmann and the band’s next drummer were involved in a severe car accident that had long-lasting consequences for the former. Liktjern officially regrouped in 2008. In 2009, the collective issued their first release, the EP Kulde, pest & død.
Surprisingly, I Ruiner’s material was mostly finished in terms of composition in 2010. The band began recording as early as 2013. Ultimately, the album was recorded over several years. This was partially a consequence of the further tribulations that Liktjern would have to overcome. Gud, a technician whom Liktjern encountered, serves as the band’s current third member. He is the vicious vocalist whom you will hear on I Ruiner. Although Covid-19 delayed I Ruiner’s mixing, nothing could stop the effort from becoming a cult success by that point.
I Ruiner is truly an exceptional album. It has the backbone, passion, youth, and spirit of the ’90s. Nevertheless, it reflects updates that the band has made. In other words, Liktjern sounds like the hottest new black metal band, yet their music feels true “true,” despite having missed the imaginary cutoff date by a long shot. (If we are to be very snobby, 1994 was probably the year that black metal went to hell. Although Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger  might be seen as proof of the opposite, Fenriz has stated that the weakening of black metal inspired him to record this brutal masterpiece at the end of 1993.) On I Ruiner, ex-Nordjevel’s Nord filled Liktjern’s need for a bassist. A couple of years ago, Nord saw the release of Fedraminne, Varde’s sole album to date. Fedraminne is the diamond in the rough that you weren’t expecting. We also highly recommend Hovmod’s first and only full-length release, Doedsformasjon (2019), with ex-Liktjern members Ond and Kleven, who have played together in Djevelkult. We hope that Liktjern, Hovmod, and Varde will make many more brilliant albums.