Sunday Old School: Black Metal History Month Part 1 - Dissection
Band Photo: Dissection (?)
It’s that special month again! Black Metal History Month is back for its fifth instalment, with some of the heaviest and most controversial bands lined up to celebrate our trademark four weeks of darkness. To get things going, we’re going to kick off the month with perhaps one of the craziest stories we’ve yet to cover in Sunday Old School by taking a look at one of Sweden’s most infamous bands, Dissection.
Dissection can trace its roots back to a thrash metal band, Siren’s Yell, which featured future members Peter Palmdahl, Öhman and Jon Nödtveidt. They only lasted one demo before Nödtveidt and Öhman spent a short time in a band called Rabbit’s Carrot, a group which the duo found very lightweight so they worked on darker and more aggressive music, which the other members rejected. This led Nödtveidt to form Dissection in the autumn of 1989 with Peter Palmdahl, with Öhman joining the pair once again the following spring. They soon recorded a demo, "Severing into Shreds," which they distributed to fanzines with the message that the recording marked the birth of Dissection and that they were "about to make a heavy impact on the scene."
They made their live debut soon after, supporting Stockholm based, future death metal legends Entombed in October and followed this with another demo tape, "The Grief Prophecy." The demo marked their first collaboration with artist, Kristian Wåhlin, himself a musician whose old band Grotesque went on to become, At The Gates. Soon after, they hired a second guitarist named John Zwetsloot, who made his live debut with the band in February 1991 in their home town of Strömstad. At the same time, their second demo was generating interest in the underground metal scene which led to French label Corpsegrinder Records, who offered the group an EP deal.
"Into Infinite Obscurity," the three track result was received very well by those who heard it and they were soon invited by Mayhem guitarist, Euronymous to perform a show in Askim, Norway, where they performed the Mayhem song, "Freezing Moon," in honour of the band’s previous vocalist and fellow Swede, Dead, who had committed suicide seven months before. The band then recorded another demo, which caught the attention of No Fashion Records, who had previously released albums from the likes of Dark Funeral and perhaps the other most controversial Swedish black metal group, Marduk, and offered Dissection a one album deal.
The band entered the studio with Edge of Sanity founder Dan Swanö to record their debut and moved to the city of Gothenburg. The result was a true classic of Swedish black metal, or black metal in general for that matter, "The Somberlain," a record which was also massively influential in bringing melody to both black and death metal and was dedicated to Euronymous, who had been murdered by Burzum mastermind Varg Vikernes earlier that year. It was to be their only album with Zwetsloot, who was fired soon after for not turning up to rehearsals, reportedly causing the band to cancel concerts as a result.
On the very day that Zwetsloot was fired, he was replaced by a former bandmate of Nödtveidt’s named Johan Norman. They got to work on new music and also recorded a cover of "The Antichrist" for a Slayer tribute CD. This was followed by signing a new record deal with German label, Nuclear Blast Records, who put out Dissection’s sophomore full length, "Storm of the Light’s Bane" in 1995. As with, "The Somberlain," it received almost universal praise from black metal listeners and boasted amazing art work from Kristian Wåhlin.
Following the release of "Storm of the Light’s Bane," there would be some very important personal choices by the band members. As Öhman decided to leave the band, Nödtveidt and Norman joined the recently formed MLO (Misanthropic Luciferian Order,) a Satanic organisation, as the name suggests. This, plus a short tour of the United Kingdom with Cradle of Filth, all happened a few months before the second album was released, though following the record’s release, their touring was increased dramatically, performing in Norway with fellow black metal legends like Darkthrone and Satyricon, as well as playing gigs in the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria, supporting Morbid Angel in Gothenburg and even playing in the United States. Touring so extensively provided more opportunities for the band, first with an EP of rarities and covers named, "Where Dead Angels Lie" and then their first live album, "Live Legacy," which was recorded at the Wacken Open Air festival, the last show of their tour, which would prove to be their last for a long time.
On December 18th 1997, Nödtveidt and an Iranian friend of his known only as Vlad, a fellow MLO member, were arrested on suspicion of murder. The victim was an Algerian homosexual man named Josef ben Meddour, whose body was found that July with two bullet holes in him. Police had followed several leads, including initially arresting Meddour’s lover, then investigating an Algerian Islamic organisation named the GIA, who they suspected of carrying out a political assassination since Meddour was an outspoken opponent of them. It wasn’t until December when Vlad’s girlfriend entered a police station in Stockholm, that the Göteborg police were alerted with a strong lead. The woman had gone to the police to complain of abuse, death threats and said that he had once told that he and Nödtveidt were responsible for the murder of Josef ben Meddour, even claiming she could show them the murder weapon.
Both men were arrested on December 18th, with Vlad in possession of a loaded 9mm pistol at the time. Initially, they both denied any involvement but eventually, Nödtveidt broke and confessed the story to the police. He claimed that after a long night drinking, he and Vlad were walking past a park which was known as a meeting place for gay men, when Meddour approached them, asking them to teach him about Satanism. They initially tried to get him to leave them along but eventually gave in and invited him back to Nödtveidt's home, where upon arrival, he became scared and refused to enter. The two suggested that they all continue their conversation at the nearby Keillers Park, though prior to setting off, Nödtveidt retrieved his gun and taser from inside. When they arrived at the park, Vlad took the taser from Nödtveidt and unsuccessfully attempted to immobilise the Algerian, who tried to escape but Vlad shot him in the back and then one of the two, shot Meddour in the head. The two blame each other for the fatal shot, though Vlad’s girlfriend claims it was Vlad that shot first and Nödtveidt who fired the second shot.
Nödtveidt and Vlad were both found guilty of murder, with Nödtveidt sentenced to eight years in prison for the murder and illegal possession of a firearm, while Vlad was sentenced to ten for murder, illegal possession of a firearm, violence against his girlfriend and possession of body parts. Both men only served seven years however and were released in 2004, at which point, Nödtveidt immediately got to work on new Dissection material, forming a completely new lineup with members who were "able to stand behind and live up to the demands of Dissection's Satanic concept."
The reactivated band first released a new EP in November of that year entitled, "Maha Kali," which reached number 50 in the Swedish charts and saw them change their style somewhat to melodic death metal, similar to the style that compatriots like In Flames and Dark Tranquillity had helped pioneer. Fifteen months later, the band released their third full length album, "Reinkaos" through their own label, Black Horizon Music, in conjunction with The End Records, which wasn’t as acclaimed as their old material, but was still well received by fans. They toured a little for the album, but unsurprisingly, Nödtveidt was denied entry into the United States and soon the band announced their plans to split once more, with their final show taking place in Stockholm.
Any hope of a second reunion was soon extinguished permanently as Nödtveidt was found dead in his home later that year. Different reports claim that on either the 13th or 16th of August 2006, the singer shot himself and when he was found, Satanic texts, which bandmate Set Teitan claims was a Satanic grimoire, believed to be the Liber Azerate by the MLO leader, Frater Nemidal. With Nödtveidt passed on, Dissection became another blood soaked legend of black metal, one which should be remembered as much for their musical innovation as the controversy they created.
Dissection - "Black Horizons"
Dissection - "In the Cold Winds of Nowhere"
Dissection - "Thorns of Crimson Death"
Dissection - "Nights Blood"
Dissection - "Black Dragon"
Dissection - "Starless Aeon"
Dissection - "Maha Kali"
Dissection - "The Antichrist"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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