Mayhem

Mayhem
STYLE: ORIGIN: NorwayFORMED: 1984LABEL: Season of Mist
  • MEMBERS:
  • Attila Csihar – vocals
  • Teloch – guitars
  • Ghul – guitars
  • Necrobutcher – bass
  • Hellhammer – drums, percussion
BIOGRAPHY

Mayhem are a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1984 in Oslo. They were one of the founders of the Norwegian black metal sceneand their music has strongly influenced the black metal genre. Mayhem’s early career was highly controversial, primarily due to their notorious live performances, the 1991 suicide of vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin (“Dead”) and the 1993 murder of guitarist Øystein Aarseth(“Euronymous”) by former member Varg Vikernes (“Count Grishnackh”), of Burzum.

The group released a demo and an EP that were highly influential, and amassed a loyal following through sporadic and notorious live performances, attracting further attention through their ties to the string of Norwegian church burnings and the incidents of violence surrounding them. Mayhem disbanded after Aarseth’s murder, shortly before the release of their debut album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, regarded as a classic of the black metal genre. Surviving former members Jan Axel Blomberg (“Hellhammer”), Jørn Stubberud (“Necrobutcher”) and Sven Erik Kristiansen (“Maniac”) reformed two years later with Rune Eriksen (“Blasphemer”) replacing Aarseth. Attila Csihar and Morten Iversen (“Teloch”) have since replaced Kristiansen and Eriksen, respectively. Their post-Aarseth material is characterized by increased experimentation. The 2007 album, Ordo Ad Chao, received the Spellemann award for best metal album.

Early years (1984–1988)

Founding bassist Necrobutcher, shown here performing in 2008.
Mayhem was founded in 1984 by guitarist Øystein Aarseth (known initially as “Destructor”, later “Euronymous”), bassist Jørn Stubberud(“Necrobutcher”) and drummer Kjetil Manheim, taking their band name from the Venom song “Mayhem with Mercy”. The band members were mainly influenced by groups such as Venom, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Bathory and Celtic Frost. The lineup began playing cover songs by Black Sabbath, Venom, Motörhead and later recorded the demo Pure Fucking Armageddon. After its release, Aarseth, who used to sing lead vocals, along with Stubberud, during first demo’s studio rehearsals, recruited two session vocalists, Eirik Norheim (“Messiah”) and Sven Erik Kristiansen (“Maniac”), in 1986 and 1987, respectively. Norheim played vocals only for a concert, which took place in April 1986 in Ski, and by the end of that year he had quit Mayhem. He later formed hardcore punk band Within Range and Oi!/street punk band Cockroach Clan. Whereas, with Kristiansen, Mayhem recorded its first EP, Deathcrush, in 1987, and released it through Euronymous’ newly formed label Posercorpse Music.

The initial 1,000 copy release of Deathcrush quickly sold out. It was later reissued in 1993 by the newly renamed Deathlike Silence Productions as a joint venture with Euronymous’ Oslo specialist record shop Helvete (Norwegian for “Hell”). Manheim and Maniac left the band in 1988.

With Dead (1988–1991)

After two brief replacements, Manheim and Maniac’s positions were filled by Swedish vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin (“Dead”) and local drummer Jan Axel Blomberg (“Hellhammer”). With Dead, the band’s concerts became notorious. For concerts, Dead went to great lengths to achieve the image and atmosphere he wished. From the beginning of his career, he was known to wear “corpse paint”, which involved covering his face with black and white makeup. According to Necrobutcher, “it wasn’t anything to do with the way Kiss and Alice Cooper used makeup. Dead actually wanted to look like a corpse. He didn’t do it to look cool”. Hellhammer claimed that Dead “was the first black metal musician to use corpse paint”. To complete his corpse-like image, Dead would bury his stage clothes and dig them up again to wear on the night of a concert.

While performing Dead would often cut himself with hunting knives and broken glass. Additionally, the band often had pig or sheep heads impaled on stakes and planted at the front of their stage.

 A prolific Norwegian heavy metal drummer, Hellhammer has remained with group since joining in 1988.
Stian Johannsen (“Occultus”), who briefly took position as vocalist after Dead’s suicide, made this statement about him:

“He [Dead] didn’t see himself as human; he saw himself as a creature from another world. He said he had many visions that his blood has frozen in his veins, that he was dead. That is the reason he took that name. He knew he would die.”

In 1990, the members of Mayhem moved to “an old house in the forest” near Oslo, which was used as a place for the band to rehearse. They began writing songs for their next album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Mayhem bassist Necrobutcher said that, after living together for a while, Dead and Euronymous “got on each other’s nerves a lot” and “weren’t really friends at the end”. Hellhammer recalls that Dead once went outside to sleep in the woods because Euronymous was playing synth music that Dead hated. Euronymous then went outside and began shooting into the air with a shotgun. Varg Vikernes claims that Dead once stabbed Euronymous with a knife.

On 8 April 1991, Dead committed suicide in the house owned by the band. He was found by Euronymous with slit wrists and a shotgun wound to the head. Dead’s suicide note notably read “Excuse all the blood, cheers.” and included an apology for firing the weapon indoors. Instead of calling the police, Euronymous went to a nearby store and bought a disposable camera to photograph the corpse, after re-arranging some items. One of these photographs was later stolen and used as the cover of a bootleg live album, Dawn of the Black Hearts.

Necrobutcher recalls how Euronymous told him of the suicide:

Øystein called me up the next day … and says, “Dead has done something really cool! He killed himself”. I thought, have you lost it? What do you mean cool? He says, “Relax, I have photos of everything”. I was in shock and grief. He was just thinking how to exploit it. So I told him, “OK. Don’t even fucking call me before you destroy those pictures”.

Euronymous used Dead’s suicide to foster Mayhem’s ‘evil’ image and claimed Dead had killed himself because death metal had become ‘trendy’ and commercialized. In time, rumors spread that Euronymous had made a stew with bits of Dead’s brain and had made necklaces with bits of his skull. The band later denied the former rumor, but confirmed that the latter was true. Moreover, Euronymous claimed to have given these necklaces to musicians he deemed worthy, which was confirmed by several other members of the scene, like Bård ‘Faust’ Eithun and Metalion.

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas; breakup (1991–1994)

Dead’s suicide affected Necrobutcher so much that he left Mayhem, thinning the band’s ranks down to two. The group performed for a short time thereafter with Occultus, joining the band to begin recording vocal and bass tracks in Mayhem’s debut album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. However, this was short-lived; he left the band after receiving a death threat from Euronymous. In July 1993, Live in Leipzig was released as the band’s tribute to Dead.

In late 1992, the recording of Mayhem’s upcoming album resumed; thus Aarseth engaged three more session musicians: Burzum’s Varg Vikernes (stage name “Count Grishnackh”), Thorns’ Snorre W. Ruch (“Blackthorn”), who handled bass guitar and rhythm guitar respectively, and singer Attila Csihar, of Hungarian black metal band Tormentor. Due to complaints by his parents, Euronymous closed his scene focal point record shop Helvete, claiming as reasons adverse media and police attention. Much of the album was recorded during the first half of 1993 at the Grieg Hall in Bergen. To coincide with the release of the album, Euronymous and Vikernes had conspired to blow up Nidaros Cathedral, which appears on the album cover. Euronymous’s murder in August 1993 put an end to this plan and delayed the album’s release.

On 10 August 1993, Vikernes murdered Euronymous. On that night, Vikernes and Ruch travelled from Bergen 518 km to Euronymous’ apartment in Oslo. Upon their arrival, a confrontation began, which ended when Vikernes fatally stabbed Euronymous. His body was found outside the apartment with twenty-three cut wounds — two to the head, five to the neck and sixteen to the back. Vikernes claims that Euronymous had plotted to torture him to death and videotape the event, using a meeting about an unsigned contract as a pretext. On the night of the murder, Vikernes claims he intended to hand Euronymous the signed contract and “tell him to fuck off”, but that Euronymous attacked him first. Additionally, Vikernes defends that most of Euronymous’ cut wounds were caused by broken glass he had fallen on during the struggle. Vikernes was arrested within days, and a few months later he was sentenced to 21 years in prison for both the murder and church arsons; he was released from prison in 2009. Blackthorn, who waited for Vikernes downstairs and took no part in Aarseth’s murder, was charged with complicity in murder and sentenced to serve 8 years in prison. With only Hellhammer remaining, Mayhem effectively ceased to exist.

In May 1994, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was released and dedicated to Euronymous. Its release had been delayed due to complaints filed by Euronymous’ parents, who had objected to the presence of bass guitar parts played by Vikernes. According to Vikernes himself, Hellhammer assured Aarseth’s parents that he would re-record the bass tracks himself; being unable to play bass guitar, Hellhammer left the bass tracks unchanged, and so the album features Vikernes as effective bassist .

Return of Maniac and introduction of Blasphemer (1994–2004)

Blasphemer (left) and Maniac (right) joined the band during its 1995 reformation.
By early 1994 Hellhammer had reformed the band with new guitarist Rune Eriksen (“Blasphemer”) and two previous Mayhem members: Maniac and Necrobutcher. Despite arousing some controversy and scepticism for reforming without founding member Euronymous, the group returned to activity, beginning with the 1997 Wolf’s Lair Abyss EP. This was followed by a string of European performances, including one in Milan, Italy, featuring a guest appearance by Csihar, which was recorded for the Mediolanum Capta Est live album of that year.

In this new phase, racist statements made by Hellhammer (who spoke out against race mixing and foreigners in Norway) and the use of Nazi imagery such as swastika flags in the rehearsal room, the Totenkopf emblem and band merchandise featuring the symbol of the military branch of Nasjonal Samling led to controversy and accusations of neo-Nazism.

Additionally, Hellhammer stated that no member of the new line-up was a Satanist, and that the “Satanic stuff […] isn’t what I feel Mayhem is about today. […] Mayhem’s music is still dark, but I wouldn’t say that it’s Satanic.”

The band’s second full-length album, Grand Declaration of War, was released in 2000. Strongly influenced by progressive and avant-garde metal, the album was concept-based, dealing with themes of war and post-apocalyptic destruction. Maniac largely abandoned the traditional black metal rasp for dramatic spoken-word monologue, with most of the songs sequencing seamlessly into one another. Because of this conceptual straying, however, the album received harsh criticism.

Mayhem made headlines in 2003 when fan Per Kristian Hagen landed in the hospital with a fractured skull after being hit by a severed sheep’s head that had been thrown into the audience from the stage. Assault charges were filed, but the band considered it to have been entirely accidental.

The band released Chimera in 2004, showing a return to their initial raw sound, but with higher production value and a progressive edge.

Later that year, Maniac left the band. According to Necrobutcher, this was due to his alcoholism induced by stage fright. Necrobutcher explained that because of this tendency, a violent encounter between the singer and Blasphemer lead to the guitarist kicking Maniac down a flight of stairs, resulting in injury. Csihar was reinstated as his replacement.

Return of Csihar; Ordo Ad Chao (2004–2008)

Attila Csihar, live with Mayhem at Hole in the Sky 2007.
The band’s fourth full-length album, Ordo ad Chao (Latin for “Order to Chaos”), was released in April 2007. Ordo ad Chao contained a much rawer sound than the rest of the band’s recent work; the drums were not equalized and the mix was notably bass-heavy against black metal convention. The album continued the band’s experiments with unorthodox song structures, with “Illuminate Eliminate,” at 9:40, the band’s second longest track (behind Grand Declaration of War’s “Completion in Science of Agony (Part I)” at 9:44). The album received strong reviews and was the band’s highest-charting album, peaking at No. 12 on the Norwegian charts. In early 2008 Ordo Ad Chao won a Spellemannprisen, an award from the largest and oldest of Norway’s music awards shows, for Best Metal Album of 2007.

In April 2008, Blasphemer announced his plans to leave the band, expressing a lack of desire to continue despite satisfaction with their accomplishments. He played European festival dates over the following months, with his last performance in the group coming in August. He thereafter continued work with the Portuguese band Ava Inferi. This marked the departure of the musician credited with the bulk of the musical composition of the band’s three most recent studio albums.

Esoteric Warfare; after Blasphemer’s departure (2008–present)

Statements of imminent touring plans were announced on the band’s web page a few weeks after their final dates with Blasphemer. In October 2008, Krister Dreyer (“Morfeus”) of Dimension F3H and Limbonic Art joined the group as touring guitarist for their upcoming South America Fucking Armageddon tour.

The band toured through late 2008 and 2009 with this lineup, prior to announcing Summer 2009 dates with Silmaeth, a French musician, as a second touring guitar. In November 2009, the band was arrested in Tilburg, Netherlands, after destroying a hotel room while on tour. Norwegian guitarist Teloch of Nidingr replaced Silmaeth in February 2011, and performed with the group before departing the following year.

In an interview in 2012, Necrobutcher revealed that Mayhem had begun work on their fifth studio album. As of November 2013, the new album was being mixed, with an early 2014 release date expected. Several months later, on February 18, 2014, it was announced that Mayhem would release a new album in May 2014, with a new song “Psywar” made available for streaming.

On February 20, 2014, the band’s record label, Season of Mist, announced that the new album Esoteric Warfare would be released worldwide on May 27, 2014. This marked the first Mayhem studio effort since Blasphemer’s departure and Teloch’s permanent status in the band.

In January 2015, MayhemWatain, and Revenge played together as part of the “Black Metal Warfare” tour in the United States. Mayhem and Watain toured again in the United States in November 2015 with Rotting Christ as “Part II” of the previous tour.

BAND NEWS

The English-language film “Lords Of Chaos”, based on true events in the Norwegian black metal music scene in the early 1990s, will open in theaters February 8 and on demand

January 3, 2019 by Tero Tolkki
DISCOGRAPHY

Esoteric Warfare / 2014

  • Album Info
  • 2014
  • Season of Mist

1. Watcher
2. Psywar
3. Trinity
4. Pandaemon
5. MILAB
6. VI.Sec.
7. Throne Of Time
8. Corpse Of Care
9. Posthuman
10. Aion Suntalia
11. Into The Lifeless
12. From Beyond The Event Horizon

 

Esoteric Warfare is the fifth full-length studio album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. It was released by Season of Mist on 6 June 2014 in Europe and Asia, and on 10 June 2014 in North America.

It is the band’s first album with Teloch on guitar since Blasphemer’s departure from the band in 2008.

Ordo Ad Chao / 2007

  • Album Info
  • 2007
  • Season of Mist

1. A Wise Birthgiver
2. Wall Of Water
3. Great Work Of Ages
4. Deconsecrate
5. Illuminate Eliminate
6. Psychic Horns
7. Key To The Storms
8. Anti

 

Ordo ad Chao is the fourth full-length album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. The album received the Spellemann award for best metal album on 2 February 2008.

It is the first Mayhem album with the vocalist Attila Csihar since the 1994 album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and the last with Blasphemer before he announced his departure from the band in 2008. The drummer, Jan Axel Blomberg (Hellhammer), said that the drum tracks were not equalized and only the bass drums were triggered. He ended saying “the production sounds necro as fuck, but that’s the way we wanted it – this time. It represents Mayhem today.” Indeed, the sound of the album is much rawer than that of any official Mayhem studio release since Deathcrush, with a very bass-heavy mix. Despite that, the album continues the somewhat unorthodox songwriting approach showcased on the band’s last two releases, with “Illuminate Eliminate” being the band’s second longest song. The album includes some death grunts and clean vocals; however, Grand Declaration of War has cleaner vocals.

It also has the distinction of being the first Mayhem album with lyrics written by Attila Csihar (the lyrics on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas having been penned by Dead). Consequently, there is a thematic shift from the band’s earlier lyrics, which focused mostly on morbid and Satanic ideas, and the lyrics here allude to psychic powers, the Annunaki, and the creation of the human race as a workforce for alien powers.

The album was released on 23 April 2007. It charted at #12 in Norway, making it the band’s highest charting album yet. There is a version of the album supplied in a metal case that is limited to a production of 3,000.

Chimera / 2004

  • Album Info
  • 2004
  • Season of Mist

1. Whore
2. Dark Night Of The Soul
3. Rape Humanity With Pride
4. My Death
5. You Must Fall
6. Slaughter Of Dreams
7. Impious Devious Leper Lord
8. Chimera

 

Chimera is the third full length album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. It is the fourth and last main Mayhem release with the vocalist Sven Erik Kristiansen (Maniac). TurboNatas of the Norwegian band Red Harvest provided the album artwork. The album art is a screenshot from the 1922 silent film Häxan.

At the time of the album’s release in 2004, Mayhem was still being sharply and routinely criticized in the metal underground for straying from the black metal style on its previous album, Grand Declaration of War.

Grand Declaration of War / 2000

  • Album Info
  • 2000
  • Season of Mist, Necropolis Records

1. A Grand Declaration Of War
2. In The Lies Where Upon You Lay
3. A Time To Die
4. View From Nihil (Pt. I Of II)
5. View From Nihil (Pt. II Of II)
6. A Bloodsword And A Colder Sun (Pt. I Of II)
7. A Bloodsword And A Colder Sun (Pt. II Of II)
8. Crystalized Pain In Deconstruction
9. Completion In Science Of Agony (Pt. I Of II)
10. To Daimonion (Pt. I Of III)
11. To Daimonion (Pt. II Of III)
12. To Daimonion (Pt. III Of III)
13. Completion In Science Of Agony (Pt. II Of II)

 

Grand Declaration of War is the second full-length studio album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem, released by Season of Mist and Necropolis Records on June 6, 2000.

The album’s title and some of the lyrics are taken from the writings of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, particularly his books Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist. Nietzsche called Twilight of the Idols “a grand declaration of war” („eine grosse Kriegserklärung“).

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas / 1994

  • Album Info
  • 1994
  • Deathlike Silence Productions

1. Funeral Fog
2. Freezing Moon
3. Cursed In Eternity
4. Pagan Fears
5. Life Eternal
6. From The Dark Past
7. Buried By Time And Dust
8. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

 

De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is the first full-length studio album by the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem.

Songwriting began in 1987, but due to the suicide of vocalist Per “Dead” Ohlin and the murder of guitarist Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, the album’s release was delayed until May 1994. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is widely considered one of the most influential black metal albums of all time.

It is the band’s only studio album to feature Aarseth and Varg “Count Grishnackh” Vikernes.

 

1987–1991

Mayhem began writing songs for the album in 1987, with vocalist Dead composing the lyrics. In 1990 or 1991, studio versions of the songs “The Freezing Moon” and “Carnage” were recorded, appearing on the CBR Records compilation album Projections of a Stained Mind. Mayhem’s drummer, Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg, claimed that the lyrics of “Freezing Moon” were “meant to make people commit suicide”. Dead said in a 1989 interview by Marduk guitarist Morgan “Evil” Håkansson, published in Slayer fanzine, that by then he had written the lyrics for “Funeral Fog”, “Freezing Moon”, “Buried by Time and Dust” and “Pagan Fears”. Finished versions of these songs appeared on the album Live in Leipzig, a concert recording from November 1990 which was released in 1993.

By 1991, Dead and Euronymous were living in a house in the woods near Kråkstad, which was used by the band to rehearse. On 8 April 1991, while alone in the house, Dead slit his wrists and throat and then shot himself in the head with a shotgun. He left a brief suicide note, which apologized for having used the gun indoors and began with “Excuse all the blood”. His body was found by Euronymous. Before calling the police, he allegedly went to a nearby shop and bought a disposable camera with which he photographed the body, after re-arranging some items. One of these photographs was later used as the cover of a bootleg live album titled Dawn of the Black Hearts.

 

1991–1994

To record the new album, Euronymous recruited Attila Csihar (from the Hungarian band Tormentor) as vocalist and Vikernes (who performed solo as Burzum) as bassist. This lineup — Euronymous, Hellhammer, Csihar and Vikernes — recorded the album during late 1992 and early 1993 at the Grieg Hall in Bergen. However, the album itself contained no information on lineup and credits. Necrobutcher, who had left the band before the recording sessions, claimed to have written half of the songs for the album. He stated that he and Dead wrote “Freezing Moon” and Euronymous only contributed one riff to that song. Snorre “Blackthorn” Ruch (who performed solo as Thorns) wrote some of the riffs for the album and finished some of Dead’s song lyrics, according to himself and Hellhammer. The main riff of the Thorns song “Into the Promised Land” (also called “Lovely Children”) became the main riff of “From the Dark Past”. According to Vikernes, Euronymous was responsible for most of the guitar riffs, but he claimed that Hellhammer, Necrobutcher and himself contributed some riffs, too.

On 10 August 1993, Vikernes and Blackthorn traveled to Euronymous’s apartment in Oslo, where Vikernes stabbed Euronymous to death. He was arrested and sentenced to 21 years in prison, while Blackthorn was sentenced to 8 years for being an accomplice.

During Vikernes’s trial, police said that they had found explosives and ammunition in Vikernes’s home. Euronymous and Vikernes had allegedly plotted to blow up Nidaros Cathedral, which appears on the album cover, to coincide with the album’s release. Vikernes denied this allegation in a 2009 interview, saying, “I was getting [the explosives and ammunition] in order to defend Norway if we were attacked any time. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union could have decided to attack us.”

After Euronymous’s funeral, Hellhammer and Necrobutcher worked on releasing the album. Euronymous’s parents asked Hellhammer to remove the bass tracks recorded by Vikernes. Hellhammer said, “I thought it was appropriate that the murderer and victim were on the same record. I put word out that I was re-recording the bass parts, but I never did”.

The album was eventually released in May 1994, around the time that Vikernes was sentenced. It featured the last lyrics written by Dead before his suicide, and the last songs recorded by Euronymous before his murder.

In 2009, Mayhem released rough mixes of five songs from the De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas recording session as the EP Life Eternal.

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