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Mayhem Through The Eyes Of An Infidel

Chris Campion from The Observer recently joined Mayhem on the road and shared his observations:

"Backstage after the first show of a whistle-stop winter tour of Norway, Necro Butcher, bassist with Norwegian Black Metal band Mayhem, is already a bit tipsy. He is gleefully reading back his own words from an article about the band in the local newspaper. "I promise not to throw animal heads at the audience in Bergen.

The last time the band played in the city, a sheep's head thrown from the stage smashed into the skull of an audience member. "He wasn't watching the band," shrugs Necro Butcher. "He was talking to a girl,' he says, implying that the man should have known better. Animal heads speared on microphone stands are de rigueur for a Mayhem show. 'We usually use pigs' heads but we couldn't get one that night. We like to throw them to the audience at the end of the show so they can, y'know, play around with them.

He returns his attention to the double page spread, holding it aloft with outstretched arms."Fuckin' excellent!" he slurs. "This 'is the first positive article ever written about Mayhem in Norway.

To put that in context, the band have been around for more than 20 years. Their peers acknowledge them as the originators of Norwegian Black Metal (often referred to as its country's biggest cultural export), defining both its antagonistic sound and attitude. Black Metal relishes its position as the most extreme form of music imaginable.

In the early Nineties, a spate of church burnings and three grisly deaths stoked blazing headlines that described the nihilistic rampage of the satanically-minded youth. The limits of tolerance in this largely secular society were sorely tested by sensational stories centred not on the music's fans but the bands themselves. And, as far as the Norwegian media are concerned, when it comes to Black Metal all roads lead to MAYHEM, whose terrible and bloody history eclipses the debauchery of even the most hardened rock bands.

Before MAYHEM had even released their first studio album in 1993, a creepy masterpiece called "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas", singer Dead had committed suicide and founding guitarist Euronymous had been brutally murdered by session bassist Count Grishnackh (with second guitarist, Snorre Ruch, acting as his accomplice). Grishnackh was already suspected of initiating the church burnings that began in 1992.

"We couldn't really buy better publicity," Necro Butcher acknowledges sagely. "But every time we lost a member we had to find somebody else to replace them and start the whole rehearsing process again. We suffered in that way as a band."

Gnomic and gnome-like (the band's road crew affectionately refer to him as "Micro Butcher"), MAYHEM's 36-year old bassist is in some ways Norway's answer to Lemmy; a stoic veteran who has helped steer the band he co-founded in 1984 through personal tragedy and public vilification.

Drummer Hellhammer is the next longest-standing member of MAYHEM. He's also the quietest. A compact figure with darkly handsome (but distinctly un-Scandinavian) features which are immaculately groomed, he always seems to be at the centre of his own party backstage. "He may look quiet," says one member of the crew, "but he's the most twisted of the lot."

Source: The Observer

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