Here’s a video of Mayhem’s Euronymous playing drums in the experimental band L.E.G.O. in 1986

Mayhem
Early Mayhem (left to right): Manheim, Necrobutcher, Euronymous

Back when they were still all just kids, Mayhem guitarist Euronymous and then-drummer Manheim had a short-lived side project called the Langhus Experimental Grave chamber Orchestra, or L.E.G.O. for short. The project has achieved somewhat mythic status among black metal fans, mainly because as far as anyone could tell, they only performed a few times and never recorded a note. On his blog back in 2009, Manheim casually mentioned that someone had videotaped one of their shows, but no copy of that videotape had ever surfaced online or elsewhere. Until now.

Today, a Mayhem fan by the name of Finn Håkon “Snærkpung” Rødland finally posted the long-lost video on YouTube for all to see. It’s only 10 minutes long and mostly just features Manheim playing guitar with his back to the audience while Euronymous makes a valiant attempt to play drums, but it’s a pretty fascinating document of the band’s early history nonetheless. They were so young! And—let’s be honest—they’re painfully shy, awkward performers. It’s hard to believe one of them would go on to become one of the most influential figures in heavy metal history.

Manheim’s 2009 description of this performance, which was apparently their first as L.E.G.O., provides some context for what we’re seeing:

“We needed to give the concept we were talking about a name, and having had a few drinks, Metallion (from Slayer Mag) had a moment of clearness when listening to our strange talk. Like an almost dead person suddenly springing into life he opened his eyes, put his finger up in the air and declared ‘A fly’s death!’ We immediately loved the idea, and decided to arrange the piece according to a fly’s life from birth to death.  I do think Metallion almost immediately went back to sleep, but we stayed up building the concept.

“One day we held the concert and it is on video tape. Probably it is out there in the internet cloud. I remember playing the violin for the first time in my life that evening. It was a wonderful way of showing the agony a fly must feel when it is reaching its time of death. :-)”

So there you have it: The life and death of a fly, as reenacted by a couple of 18-year-old metalheads who were also listening to a lot of experimental and avant-garde music by artists like Conrad Schnitzler and Diamanda Galas. Turns out there may have been more things influencing the Norwegian black metal scene besides Venom records and Satanism.

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Weird Interview: Teloch from Mayhem

Teloch

Listen, we do OK in the readership department, but Christ knows, we’re no Metal Injection. We probably don’t even have as many readers as Hell Furnace. So when we hit up Mayhem‘s label, Season of Mist, to see if we could interview the band around the release of their latest album, Esoteric Warfare, we weren’t really expecting a response. But dip us in honey and feed us to the bees, cuz the Season of Mist folks not only wrote us back but hooked us up with Teloch, the band’s still-sorta-new guitarist. We’re not worthy!

Teloch answered all our questions via email, which is admittedly lamer than phone or Skype or in-person…but, it does give us the opportunity to tell you this: Teloch uses emoticons. He gave us the fucking winky sign at the end of this thing! And he didn’t even put devil horns on it! This changes my entire impression of black metal forever.

Anyway, we got the interview back a few days ago but decided to wait until Friday the 13th to post it, on account of it being the day of ultimate evil and all. Teloch answered all our questions except one that was specifically about Euronymous, which is fair enough, I guess. Nobody likes to talk about the dead guy they replaced.

Oh, did I mention that Esoteric Warfare is out now? Yep, it finally dropped on June 10th here in the States and everywhere else on June 6th. If your life seemed a little more miserable than usual this week, it’s probably because there was just a little more darkness in the world. You can stream the full album exclusively on Terrorizer…another site that probably gets more traffic than ours. Bastards.

Weirdest Band: You’ve worked with drummer Hellhammer for many years on other projects before you joined Mayhem. How did the two of you first meet?

Teloch: We first met when we where doing a warm-up gig for Mayhem with Nidingr [Teloch’s previous band]. But it wasn’t until later we started hanging out.

WB: What was your first-ever show with Mayhem like? Where did you play?

T: It was strange, we played here in Norway at a place called Jessheim, where Mayhem had played a gig maaaany years ago. Of course since it was my first gig with them there was some nerves involved, as it always is performing the first gig with a new band.

WB: Were those early Mayhem records an influence on your band, Nidingr?

T: Haven’t really thought about it before but I’m pretty sure it was one of the influences, together with the rest of the Norwegian Black Metal bands, but we have never tried to sound like Mayhem, that’s for sure.

WB: How does Esoteric Warfare compare to the rest of the Mayhem catalog?

T: It’s hard for me to say, ’cause the only Mayhem albums I have listened to top to bottom is Mysteriis and Ordo, the other albums went completely under the radar for me. Also I have only listened to the songs they wanted me to play live.

WB: What guitars and other gear (pedals, effects, etc.) did you use during the recording of Esoteric Warfare?

T: LTD EC-1000 and a cable straight into Engl Powerball 100 and Powerball 1 and 2, no pedals or effects…we added some effects in the studio later, reverbs and delays.

WB: The first song released, “Psywar,” talks about how modern society brainwashes people into submission. Is that what the title of the album is referring to: that our governments have declared war on people’s ability to think for themselves?

T: In a way, it’s more like there is this constant secret war in the world all the time. Also it’s about mind control and military control, secret societies.

WB: What do you think about the black metal scene these days? Are there any bands doing work you admire?

T: I have no idea, I don’t follow the scene at all and have no idea what’s going on. I would say there is probably nothing worth following, since most albums released is shit.

WB: What do you think about bands like Deafheaven and Amesoeurs that use elements of black metal but mix with them different styles like shoegaze and punk? Do you appreciate bands that like to experiment with black metal, or are you more of a purist?

T: Don’t know the bands you mentioning and have no idea what shoegaze is, but sounds like a fucking mongoloid looking at his shoe for no reason. People can do what the fuck they want, I really don’t care as long as I don’t have to listen to it, really. To me, when you say experiment and black metal together in a sentence, it’s no longer black metal. To me black metal has strict rules and codes to follow for it being black metal, but that’s also the reason why I quit playing/listening to black metal years ago, not that fond of rules, especially when it comes to music, it constricts you. But that’s just my opinion, and it’s not important.

WB: Mayhem’s early history has been sensationalized in the press. Do you find that some of the band’s fans are more into the mythology surrounding Mayhem than the actual music?

T: Yup, and looks like it’s going to be like that forever. A solution would probably be if the other members stopped talking about the old days and start focusing on what’s in front of them. 😉

Hear a new track from Mayhem: “Psywar”

Mayhem

Here’s a factoid that’s gonna make some of you feel really fucking old: It’s been 30 years since Norwegian black metal legends Mayhem slouched out of the frozen woods of Norway and into our cold, black hearts. 30 years! And they said it wouldn’t last. Especially after the lead singer committed suicide and the guitarist got murdered. But when you basically invented the entire black metal genre, murder and suicide kinda go with the scenery.

Anyway, to celebrate 30 years of making the world a darker, more depressing place, the remnants of Mayhem are releasing their first new music this year since 2007’s Ordo ad Chao. The new album’s gonna be called Esoteric Warfare and you can hear the first single, “Psywar,” in a YouTube video below. Fortunately, it’s a lyric video, because otherwise there would be no way to figure out what the hell Attila is saying.

Heavy as fuck, am I right? My altered persona definitely just got triggered. Now pardon me while I go break stuff.

OK, I’m back to let you know that “Psywar” will be released as a single on Season of Mist on April 25th (April 29th here in America, because we suck). It’ll be on limited-edition vinyl in different colors with different artwork, all of which you can pre-order here. Looks like the red and grey vinyl are already sold out but the black is still available, because even in black metal circles, colored vinyl is still cooler than black.

Esoteric Warfare drops May 23rd (May 27th in the U.S.). It’ll feature the surviving “classic” Mayhem lineup of Necrobutcher on bass, Hellhammer on drums and Attila Csihar on vocals, with the new addition of Teloch standing in for the late, great Euronymous on guitar. Will it live up to the legend? Probably not, but who cares? As long as it means they’re bringing their severed pig heads to a theater near us soon, we’ll take it.

Fly the really, really unfriendly skies: Black metal legend Euronymous could wind up on the side of a plane

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We’ve always said that if there’s one thing the airline industry needs, it’s more black metal. I mean, what image emblazoned across the tail fin of a Boeing 737 could possibly make travelers feel safer than the painted visage of Mayhem‘s murdered leader, Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, glaring down at the passenger cabin like a guardian demon from some especially cold, Norwegian circle of hell?

Thanks to an online poll currently being conducted by Norwegian, a discount Scandinavian airline (think Southwest, only the flight attendants have better cheekbones), the above scenario could actually happen. Norwegian is asking their customers to pick famous Norwegian people to grace the tail fins of four planes in their fleet, and currently, Euronymous is leading in the poll for the Oslo-based jet. If you want to get in on the black metal action, go here and cast your vote (the site’s in Norwegian, but the voting’s pretty easy to figure out).

Voters can submit their own candidates, but as far as we can tell, Euronymous was actually one of the famous people nominated by the good folks at Norwegian, which officially makes them the coolest airline on the planet. At least until Virgin steps up and puts Ozzy Osbourne on the side of one of their planes. No, wait, that still wouldn’t be cooler than honoring an avowed Satanist who was hacked to death by his own bass player.

Voting closes March 28th (aka this Wednesday), so get cracking. And a word of advice to Norwegian: If Euronymous wins, I wouldn’t puss out if I were you. Those Norwegian black metal people have been known to burn shit down when they get cranky.

(P.S. Big ups to Richard from Army of Gay Unicorns for alerting us to this story. You, sir, are the wind beneath our inverted-cross-covered wings.)

[Update: As of April 5th, Euronymous has sadly been removed from the list of candidates for tail fin immortality, at the behest of his family. If you black metal fans need a new online campaign to wage, I suggest lobbying the makers of Newcastle Brown Ale to make a limited-edition Newcastle Black Ale honoring Newcastle natives Venom. Get on it!]

Weirdify Playlist 5: Mental Metal

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What’s up, weirdos? Jake here, ready to melt your face off with our latest Spotify playlist. This week’s theme: Heavy metal, in all its skull-crushing, finger-tapping, demon-growling glory. Plus one sensitive grindcore piano ballad, because we know how those grindcore kids love the lighters-up moments.

Fire up your Spotify and strap in. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

1. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, “Helpless Corpses Enactment.” I’m not letting you people off easy this week. I’m throwing you right into the deep end of weird metal with a track from this sadly defunct San Francisco outfit, who did things to heavy music only a pretentious bunch of Bay Area art freaks could do.

2. Demon Tool, “La Naissance du Mal.” I’ll be honest: I found this track when I was looking for something from Tool. But it turns out Tool has licensed exactly zero of its catalog to Spotify, so you’ll have to settle for this obscure band that just happens to have Tool in their name. Plus, they sing in French, which is kinda weird in this context. It’s hard to sound demonic when you’re growling in the language of love.

3. Mayhem, “Buried by Time and Dust.” The original and greatest Norwegian black metal band. This track is from their classic 1994 album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which means you’re hearing dead guitarist Euronymous playing alongside the man who murdered him, bassist Varg Vikernes. Creepy, huh?

4. Mr. Bungle, “Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead.” Even when Mike Patton isn’t breaking out his operatic banshee shrieks, Mr. Bungle’s spin on heavy rock is still pretty out there.

5. Goblin Cock, “Kegrah the Dragon Killer.” Goblin Cock is what happens when indie rock nerds try to do a stoner metal band—they shred, kinda, but in case the band name didn’t tip you off, the whole thing’s pretty tongue-in-cheek. The head indie rock nerd is this case is Rob Crow from Pinback. I also had to include a Goblin Cock track because I ripped off one of their totally awesome album covers as the lead image for this playlist. Hail Satan! And/or the well-endowed, Satan-like figure seen in most Goblin Cock artwork!

6. Powerglove, “Heffalumps and Woozles (Winnie the Pooh).” More nerd-metal, this time from a bunch of dudes from Boston who do heavy instrumental versions of songs from videogames and children’s cartoons. Yes, this really is based on the “Heffalumps” song from Winnie the Pooh—if you don’t believe me, here’s the original. Okay, it’s a loose interpretation, but still. Those Heffalumps will fuck your shit up.

7. Schwarzenator, “Predator.” This is slightly less nerdy than songs about Heffalumps and dragon killers, but not by much. Schwarzenator are one of three, count ’em, three metal bands whose songs are all based on Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. I would include tracks from ArnoCorps and Austrian Death Machine, too, but one Ahh-nuld-themed song per playlist is really my limit. Get to da choppuh!

8. Bang Camaro, “Swallow the Razor.” Pop-metal with a “dude choir” of about 15 singers. If more ’80s hair metal bands had employed dude choirs, maybe we’d all still be listening to Skid Row and Whitesnake to this day. Oh, wait, some of you are still listening to Skid Row and Whitesnake? Well, then maybe you wouldn’t be doing it in your parents’ basement.

9. Dir En Grey, “Lotus.” Japanese prog-metal. Any questions? No? Moving on…

10. Common Grackle, “At the Grindcore Show.” You know how some metal albums have a nice little ballad or acoustic interlude before they return to their regularly scheduled face-melting? This is sorta that track. It also nicely sets up our next few grindcore(ish) tracks.

11. Cattle Decapitation, “Gestation of Smegma.” Technically, I guess these San Diego dudes aren’t true grindcore, but a related genre called goregrind. Whatever. All I know is I’m really glad most of their songs are less than one minute long.

12. The Locust, “We Have Reached an Official Verdict: Nobody Gives a Shit.” Another San Diego band (featuring ex-Cattle Decap drummer Gabe Serbian), The Locust also aren’t technically grindcore, but an even more distantly related genre called powerviolence. And you thought the dance music kids liked to split hairs over genre distinctions.

13. Iwrestledabearonce, “Alaskan Flounder Basket.” Again, not really grindcore…they’re more screamo/experimental…oh, fuck it. Just prepare to be ear-raped.

14. Horse the Band, “A Million Exploding Suns.” I had to throw these guys in here because they play yet another obscure/bizarre subgenre called “nintendocore,” which is basically hardcore + videogame music. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried, people!

15. GWAR, “Black and Huge.” This one needs no introduction. It’s fucking GWAR! Bow down, human scum.

16. Super Geek League, “Naked Machine.” These Seattle freaks call their very GWAR-like funk-thrash-punk sound “soul metal.” I just call it my soundtrack for breaking stuff.

17. Apocalyptica, “Enter Sandman.” Metallica, played by cellos. This shit cracks me up every time I hear it, but I’m pretty sure they’re serious. They’re from Finland, so it’s hard to tell.

Hope you dug this week’s playlist. Tune in next week (or the week after, we’re not really on any set schedule with these things), when my partner Andy returns with Music for Pussies.

Mayhem

Listen, I love banging my head and getting down with the sickness as much as the next hesher, but I gotta say, as far as the the dudes in Norway’s black metal scene are concerned, I’m out. I cannot hang with these motherfuckers. They’re like metal, gangsta rap, the Manson Family and a Lars Von Trier movie all wrapped up in barbed wire, dipped in shit, set on fire and stuffed like an apple of pure evil into the mouth of a rotting severed pig’s head. When it comes to metal, Norway don’t play.

 Read our interview with Mayhem guitarist Teloch (posted 6/13/14)

At the heart of the whole black metal scene—and if you’re not familiar, this long but very excellent article will get you up to speed—is a band called Mayhem, who have somehow managed to stay in business since 1984 despite enduring a suicide and a murder before they even released their first official album. The suicide happened in 1991 and involved an ill-fated lead singer named Dead who blew his brains out with a shotgun and left a note that read (roughly translated): “Sorry about all the blood, rock on.” The murder went down two years later and involved two members of the band—the victim, a guitarist named Euronymous, and the perp, a bass player named Varg Vikernes. That’s the dude’s real name, by the way. Euronymous’s real name was Øystein Aarseth, which is actually cooler than Euronymous. Apparently pretty much everyone in Norway has a name that sounds like they could be in a black metal band. [Correcton: Varg’s birth name was actually Kristian Vikernes. Which still sounds pretty badass.]

At this point, you’re probably thinking: Big deal! Singers are an emotionally delicate bunch who off themselves all the time, and I’ve wanted to kill that preening asshole of a lead guitarist in my garage band for years. Where’s the weird come into it? Well, stay tuned. We’re just getting to the good stuff.

First: It’s important to note that when Euronymous found Dead’s body (and by the way, when your lead singer decides that his stage name is gonna be “Dead,” that might raise a red flag, no?), his first action was not to call police or paramedics, but to break out his camera and snap a few pics. One of which found its way onto a “bootleg” Mayhem album called Dawn of the Black Hearts just a few years later. Wanna see it? Of course you do, you fucking sicko. Classy, right?

It’s also rumored that Euronymous and the rest of the band made a stew of Dead’s brains and turned fragments of his skull into necklaces, although that’s all probably just a rumor. Probably.

Next: It’s also important to note that when Varg Vikernes was convicted of murdering Euronymous, he was also convicted for his role in a series of church arsons, which were allegedly carried out by a band of black metal Satanists. One of the destroyed churches was over 800 years old. Like I said, Norway don’t play.

Oh, and this is a nice little detail: Mayhem’s first album after Euronymous’s murder, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, still featured the bass tracks laid down by his killer. The band’s drummer, Hellhammer, had promised Euronymous’ family that he would personally re-record Vikernes’s bass parts, but he never did. “I thought it was appropriate that the murderer and victim were on the same record,” he later said.

You will not be surprised to learn that De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas remains the band’s most famous and most acclaimed album. That excellent article from the U.K. Guardian I mentioned earlier calls it a “creepy masterpiece.” How much of the creepy is from the music and how much from the backstory, I’ll let you decide.

What might be the weirdest thing of all about Mayhem is that a.) they’re still together and b.) no one in the band has killed himself or anyone else since (that we know of). Since Euronymous’s murder and the release of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, the thing they’re probably most famous for is decorating the stage at their shows with severed pig’s heads, which they usually toss into the audience at the end of the night. One time they used a sheep’s head instead, which are apparently more dangerous than pig’s heads in projectile form, because this particular sheep’s head struck a kid in the audience and fractured his skull. Oopsie.

Here’s a 2004 live video of the band performing one of their best-known songs, “Freezing Moon” at some big outdoor festival in Europe, pigs heads and all. The vocalist in this particular clip is a dude called Maniac, who was actually kicked out of the band shortly after this show because he suffered from stage fright and had to get wasted before he could perform. The guitarist in the clip, a guy called Blasphemer (yeah, this band goes through a lot of singers and guitarists), allegedly fired Maniac after one particularly drunken performance by kicking him down a flight of stairs. Considering what some of the other guys in this band have been through, we’d say Maniac got off easy.

You might also like: Impaled Northern Moonforest, Cattle Decapitation, Hatebeak

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