Feuding rappers from the East Coast and West Coast don’t have the market covered when it comes to musical warfare. So here’s our Book-of-the-Day, Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind recount the story of how nearly 100 churches were burned and desecrated, while suicide, murder, and terrorism spread throughout the bands and their fans. Primarily set in Norway and the rest of Scandinavia, Lords of Chaos focuses on the power struggles revolving around a band called Mayhem. One musician named Dead, naturally, is discovered by his friends and bandmates Euronymous and Hellhammer. Dead, uh, died from a self-inflicted shotgun blast to the head. His friends take photos before calling the police. Before the authorities could arrive, friends take pieces of Dead’s skull to use in making necklaces. Later, Euronymous is murdered by rival Varg Vikernes, also known as Count Grishnackh, from the band Burzum.
Besides the examination of these specific bands, the first couple of chapters to the book give an overview of the musical genre. From Led Zeppelin’s fascination with Aleister Crowley to Black Sabbath’s early subject matter and Anton LaVey’s theatrics, the thread is carried out through bands like Coven, Venom, Mercyful Fate, Bathory, Slayer, Celtic Frost, Morbid Angel, Dismember, and others.
Lords of Chaos was re-released in an updated edition in 2003 that the publisher Feral House states “adding fifty new pages, detailing outbreaks of Black Metal crime in Finland, Germany and the United States; and includes the secret history of occult Rock, a new section on Varg Vikernes??? promulgation of bizarre Aryan UFO theories, and material on the career of Hendrik Mobus, an international neo-Nazi fugitive. This award-winning expos?? features hundreds of rare photos and exclusive interrogations with priests, police officers, Satanists, and leaders of demonic bands who believe the greater evil spawns the greatest glory.”
At first glance, looking at the photos in this book, long hair and grease-paint, grown men posing with swords and armor, drinking blood out of goblets, it’s easy to dismiss these characters as childish and insignificant. You might think, “how can I take anyone seriously that calls himself Count Grishnackh?” But think back to the late eighties. If I told you that there was this new musician who was going to be initially feared by everyone, face trial for murder, and would ultimately go on to be respected and accepted and make commercials with Lee Iacocca. And then I said “his name is Snoop Doggy Dogg,” you would have laughed at me. If walked up to you, way before we ever knew what we know now, and said “My name is Christopher Wallace, but I want you to refer to me as Biggie Smalls, and then later I’ll change my name to The Notorious B.I.G., I will be one of the most important artists in my genre, I will ultimately be murdered, and I will be immortalized and reach icon status after my death” you would, once again, laugh at me. The point is that although the names and attitudes may seem foreign or outlandish, America and more mainstream music has its share of weird conventions that does not diminish the importance of the art and the artists. And the difficult experiences they face doesn’t change based on how outlandish their names are. The same is true with Euronymous and Count Grishnackh in Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground.
Pick up a copy here.