RtL#38: Ryan’s Take on Head to Head Controversial Musical Moment 1

Controversial Topics in Music

The Death of Euronymous

In this session of Roll the List, I am tasked with finding the most controversial topic in rock music that I can muster.  My opposition is ever debated Dave Grohl versus Kurt Cobain.  While I should ask for clarity on what that means, I’m going to assume it’s the question on who was better or who has had a larger impact on music.  I will definitely address that shortly.  My choice is the the death of Øystein Aarseth, who was better known in the music scene as Euronymous.

There is no doubt that the Dave Grohl/Kurt Cobain thing is highly contested.  It is arguable that Dave Grohl may never have found the success that he attained without the success of Nirvana and, of course, the suicide (MURDER?!) of Kurt Cobain.  For me, I find Dave Grohl to be extremely talented and has been an integral part in dozens of bands’ success.  He plays multiple instruments and has a singing voice that can melt steel.  I was not a huge fan of Nirvana, so the question is easily answered for me.

The best thing Dave Grohl has ever done:

This particular scenario holds a lot of clout because of the worldwide success and achievements that each member procured.  The mainstream media has never been slow to implicate Courtney Love as a suspect in Cobain’s suicide and the future of music was forever changed by these events.  I think that the death of Euronymous is more controversial, though.

Euronymous was the founder of Norwegian black metal band Mayhem.  Varg Vikernes was permitted to play bass guitar in the band and the two enjoyed some minor success for a time.  It is said that a rivalry began to grow between the pair as each was endeavoring to create acts that were more heinous than the other.  It is believed that Varg Vikernes burned down a church in Norway and it spawned a series of church burnings by other members in the scene as well fans of the genre.  Varg Vikernes stabbed Euronymous to death 23 times (16 times in the back) and left him on the steps outside of his apartment.

Wikipedia remarks the following:

<<<It has been speculated that the murder was the result of a power struggle, a financial dispute over Burzum records, or an attempt at “out doing” the stabbing in Lillehammer.  Vikernes denies all of these, claiming that he attacked Euronymous in self-defense. He says that Euronymous had plotted to stun him with an electroshock weapon, tie him up and torture him to death while videotaping the event. Vikernes explains: “If he was talking about it to everybody and anybody I wouldn’t have taken it seriously. But he just told a select group of friends, and one of them told me”. He said Euronymous planned to use a meeting about an unsigned contract to ambush him. Blackthorn stood outside smoking while Vikernes climbed the stairs to Euronymous’s apartment on the fourth floor.  Vikernes said he met Euronymous at the door and handed him the contract, but when he stepped forward and confronted Euronymous, Euronymous “panicked” and kicked him in the chest.  The two got into a struggle and Vikernes stabbed Euronymous to death. Vikernes defends that most of Euronymous’s cut wounds were caused by broken glass he had fallen on during the struggle.  After the slaying, Vikernes and Blackthorn drove back to Bergen. On the way, they stopped at a lake where Vikernes disposed of his bloodstained clothes. The self-defense story is doubted by Faust and other members of the scene.>>>

Varg Vikernes was sent to prison for 21 years (the maximum in Norway) for the incident and also for having found explosives in his storage.  There was not enough proof to legally hold him for the church arsons.

What has been left is a hallmark of legend.  Before this, no other form of music had ever been so associated with such malignancy.  Even the hip hop shootings and gang related incidents were chump change compared to the legacy that Euronymous’s death has instituted.  Though the music scene has since recovered—and Varg is out there in the world, making music and living a quiet, rehabilitated life—the stories remain and the legend lives on.

Here’s a song Nargaroth wrote about the situation.

As far as controversy is considered:
Black metal 1
Grunge 0


Please make sure to always get both sides of the discussion by check out our other contributors take on this Roll the List.

Dalton’s Take

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