By Graham "Gruhamed" Hartmann
In the spirit of Black Metal History Month, in this year of our Lord 2011, it's only right that we acknowledge the enlightened souls who have made black metal so important. Of course by this I mean the artists who have committed incredibly hateful, violent and sacrilegious crimes, launching them to worldwide infamy and even critical acclaim. Now I'm not advocating that today's aspiring black metal musicians start assaulting people, but lets be honest, if it wasn't for Varg Vikernes' creepy stare, outwardly racist views and mile-long rap sheet, you probably would have never picked up the first Burzum record. So here it is, the Top 10 crimes committed by black metal musicians! Suck it, Letterman.
Black metal and church burnings are like peanut butter and jelly. They've become so synonymous with each other that the most casual of discussions about the genre will rarely go without a mention of anti-religious arson. Musicians and fans of the Norwegian black metal scene alone, took part in over 50 arsons of Christian churches from 1992 to 1996.
Burzum mastermind Varg Vikernes was convicted of four church burnings, including that of the Fantoft Stave Church, an eleventh-century national landmark whose loss galvanized Norwegians. He later used a picture of the burned church for the cover of his EP Aske. (English translation: Ash)
Samoth, guitarist of Emperor, was sentenced to sixteen months in jail after being convicted of church arson in Norway. Jørn Inge Tunsberg, guitarist of Hades (now Hades Almighty), was also convicted for burning down a church in Åsane, Norway, and spent two years in prison.
Faust, drummer of Emperor, traveled to Holmenkollen Chapel with Euronymous of Mayhem and Varg Vikernes of Burzum with the intension of bombing the chapel. When the homemade bomb they put on the altar refused to detonate, they soaked hymnals and Bibles in gasoline and lit them on the altar, burning the church to the ground.
Black Metal musicians might sometimes go to the casino as well, after all, they are just human. However, it is hard to draw a stringent line from a Lemmy of Motörhead for example, who just seems to enjoy a life full of sweet rewards, rather than ideological narrowmindedness. Church arson or bombings surely are severe crimes, that cannot be compared to hours of sin, when a Casino rewards free spins and one may just enjoy himself in gambling.
Church burnings have been praised by many black metal musicians, perhaps most famously by Gaahl of Gorgoroth during an interview with Sam Dunn in the documentary, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, stating:
"Church burnings and all these things are, of course, things that I support 100 percent and it should have been done much more and will be done much more in the future. We have to remove every trace from what Christianity and the Semitic roots have to offer this world."