METAL LEGACIES: ØYSTEIN “EURONYMOUS” AARSETH OF MAYHEM – MURDERED AUGUST 10, 1993
Metal Legacies is an ongoing memorial to extreme music pioneers who kicked the proverbial bucket way too soon.
Try and pin down a description of Øystein Aarseth, AKA “Euronymous,” of Norwegian black metal stalwarts Mayhem and you are likely to contract a new disease called “Renaissance Listophobia.” Guitarist and founder of what many argue is the pinnacle black metal act, Aarseth wore more hats in his 25 years than most people do in a lifetime: guitarist, record store owner, record label owner, brain eater, God of extreme metal, extreme dickhead, theistic Satanist, dead friend corpse photographer, teddy bear, gay pro-Communist, lethargic anarchist — he’s been called it all.
One hat he did not wear, however, was that of “knife deflector.”
On August 10, 1993, twenty-four years after Charles Manson follower Tex Watson and his girls slaughtered Leno and RosemaryLaBianca, Aarseth met his untimely demise at the hands (and dull blade) of one Kristian Vikernes (AKA Varg AKA Count Grishnackh) of fellow black metal act, Burzum (and a member of Mayhem). The legend has been told that Vikernes, who was signed to Aarseth’s Deathlike Silence Productions record label, was angry because he had not received royalty payments for Burzum album sales. Vikernes, however, denies that claim and, instead, believed Aarseth was out to murder him.
According to Vikernes, he believed Aarseth had become jealous of him because he was losing his grip on the title as the King of black metal and, subsequently, needed to eliminate his main competition. Vikernes claimed Aarseth wanted to kidnap him, tie him to a tree, torture and murder him, and videotape the ritual for his later personal gratification. He stated, “Euronymous had begun to plot against my life. He wanted to kill me. In his view I was the problem, so by killing me he believed the problem would go away.”
Vikernes decided to take matters into his own hands and prevent Aarseth’s potential attack by eliminating his former acquaintance first. The sole member of Burzum jumped into a VW Golf (not the most black metal of vehicles) and drove to Oslo, Norway to confront his alleged nemesis. Upon arrival at Aarseth’s flat, Vikernes claimed Euronymous kicked him, so he counter-attacked. As the Mayhem guitarist was unarmed, however, a paranoid Vikernes believed his enemy was going to grab a knife or a shotgun (he did neither). Vikernes pulled out a sheathed dull knife and proceeded to stab Euronymous who ran away screaming. Vikernes decided to put an end to the hysteria:
By then Euronymous was back on his feet. He looked resigned and said: “It’s enough”, but then he tried to kick me again, and I finished him off by thrusting the knife through his skull, through his forehead, and he died instantaneously. The eyes turned around in his head and a moan could be heard as he emptied his lungs when he died. He fell down to a sitting position, but the knife was stuck in his head, so I held him up, as I held onto the knife. When I jerked the knife from his skull he fell forward, and rolled down a flight of stairs like a sack of potatoes.
An autopsy of Aarseth revealed that he was stabbed 23 times. Vikernes claimed he did not stab Euronymous that often, but that Aarseth broke a lamp as he fell down and cut himself on the scattered shards.
Vikernes was caught immediately, convicted, and given a 21-year sentence. He was allegedly released on May 22, 2009.
Aarseth and Vikernes’ work can be heard on Mayhem’s black metal classic, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.
[Corey Mitchell writes books about serial killers, mass murderers, and the evil that men do. He is also the founder of the #1 true crime blog, In Cold Blog, and just began work on his eighth true crime book which features prostitution, robbery, incest, and murder.]