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Øystein Aarseth (March 22, 1968 – August 10, 1993), who went by the pseudonym Euronymous, was a guitarist and co-founder of the Norwegianmarker black metal band Mayhem. He was also founder and owner of the extreme metal label Deathlike Silence Productions and record shop Helvete, until his murder by fellow musician Varg Vikernes.

Musical career

Aarseth formed the original Mayhem line up in 1984. At the time he was going by the stage name "Destructor" but on joining the band he changed his name to Euronymous, derived from the demon Eurynomos.

He opened a record store called Helvete (Norwegian for "Hell") and started his own record label and mailorder, which he named Deathlike Silence Productions. When Mayhem's vocalist Dead committed suicide in April 1991, Aarseth discovered the corpse and took pictures that were later used for a bootleg cover, though against Aarseth's wishes. It was widely rumoured that Aarseth consumed portions of Dead's brain, but he dismissed this in an interview, although he claimed he had intended to do so. He was also believed to have made a necklace from fragments of Dead's skull. In a recent interview, Hellhammer claimed the necklace was later stolen on tour. The story further says that black metal band Marduk still has other smaller pieces, which was confirmed by Morgan Hakansson. "It" from Abruptum also claims to have fragments.

In a recent interview of Anders Kobro of Carpathian Forest, Kobro was asked about what Euronymous was like as a person. Kobro replied with "I met Øystein on only two, three occasions at nightclubs and did a leisure a jam with him once. As a musician, he was amazing. As a person, a selfish idiot. I mean if one of the band members had more girls around him than Euronymous did, he did not like it. If he saw someone who had more public attention than him, he did not like it. I mean if anyone did anything just a little bit better than he did, he was not happy. "


In late January 1993, Varg Vikernes of Burzum was interviewed by a journalist from Bergens Tidende. Vikernes had allegedly requested the interview in order to gain publicity for the black metal scene and for Aarseth's record label Deathlike Silence Productions. However, the interview led to a police investigation and Vikernes was put under arrest for a week. Aarseth decided to close his record store due to this negative attention.

On 10 August 1993, Vikernes and Snorre Ruch travelled from Bergenmarker to Aarseth’s apartment in Oslomarker. Upon their arrival a confrontation began, which ended when Vikernes fatally stabbed Aarseth. His body was found outside the apartment with twenty-three cut wounds – two to the head, five to the neck, and sixteen to the back.

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 everything, claiming Aarseth had plotted to torture him to death and videotape the event – using a meeting about an unsigned contract as a pretext. On the night of the murder, Vikernes claims he intended to hand Aarseth the signed contract and tell him "fuck off", but that Aarseth attacked him first. Additionally, Vikernes defends that most of Aarseth’s cut wounds were caused by broken glass he had fallen on during the struggle.

Regardless of the circumstances, Vikernes was arrested within days, and a few months later was sentenced to 21 years in prison (Norway's maximum penalty) for both the murder and church arsons. In a controversial display, Vikernes smiled at the moment his verdict was read, an image that was widely reprinted in the news media.

In May 1994, Mayhem finally released the album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which features Aarseth on electric guitar and Vikernes on bass guitar. Before the release, Aarseth's family had asked Hellhammer, Mayhem's drummer, to remove the bass parts recorded by Vikernes. Although Hellhammer promised to personally re-record the bass parts, in truth he had no idea how to and the final album retains Vikernes' contributions.

On 24 May 2009, Vikernes was released from prison on parole.


Aarseth was a practitioner of theistic Satanism and also a proponent of violence, totalitarianism and state terrorism - factors which would motivate his desire to incite religious fanaticism in a religiously liberal Scandinavia. Although he did not use the music of Mayhem to promote his political leanings, he saw them as mutually compatible with black metal - influenced by the repressive nature of his Satanism as well as his intense misanthropy; all traits which have since apparently been shunned by the majority of black metal musicians in spite of their respect for his role in developing the genre. He admittedly held a disdain for individualism; a mindset which later on would be a motivating factor for the hostility of many black metal musicians towards Right-Hand Path religions. Nevertheless, his beliefs were to have a profound effect on the then-nascent black metal participants.

'Satanism comes from religious Christianity, and there it shall stay.
I'm a religious person and I will fight those who misuse His name.
People are not supposed to believe in themselves and be individualists.
They are supposed to OBEY, to be the SLAVES of religion.'
- Euronymous, in an interview by Esa Lahdenpera


An admirer of communist dictators such as Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, Euronymous was a member of the Norwegian communist youth group Rød Ungdom, where according to fellow black metal musician Frost, he may have honed his leadership skills of which he would utilize in the early Norwegian black metal scene, where he allegedly led a Black Metal Inner Circle. However, given the divisions within Communism between those who sought the eventual dissolution of the state as envisioned by Karl Marx and those who saw the preservation of the totalitarian dictatorship as it remained under Stalin, the extent to which Euronymous genuinely supported communism would of course be questionable, as given his inclination towards Stalinism and violence - as well as an apparent belief that bands such as Venom were genuinely 'evil' - it is most likely he would have rejected the Communism as envisioned by Marx. Indeed, Euronymous himself implied this, having implied awareness of what Marx ultimately sought.


Ostensibly, the theistic Satanism embraced by Euronymous was a deliberate fundamental inversion of Roman Catholic dogma, fully supporting what was found to be abhorrent and blasphemous: for instance, he was an ardent proponent of sodomy, rape and murder simply because they were evil acts. He opposed the teachings of Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey, for unlike Euronymous they promoted what he saw as 'peace', and commercial frivolity, as well as individualism in contrast to precedence of dogma (although Crowley and LaVey both included dogma in their belief systems, they were also naturally opposed to the subservience that Euronymous promoted).

"Euronymous had this total Satan attitude.
I didn't have that - he had that.
He was such a devil worshipper you wouldn't believe it."- Mortiis Christe, Ian. Sound of the Beast: the Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2004

Aarseth apparently did not have a problem with the following of Paganism in the black metal scene, however, as in due time many bands followed this and/or felt empathetic towards their ancient European/Viking roots. However, Varg Vikernes later claimed that Aarseth - determined to promote Satanism and incite intense Christian opposition - disapproved of Vikernes' desire to encourage Paganism.


Euronymous played a Standard sunburst Gibson Les Paul guitar, which can be seen in many pictures of him playing. He stated in various interviews that his main guitar influences were bands such as Venom, Bathory, Slayer, Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, and Sodom. He played through a slightly modified Marshall JCM800 tube amp and used an Ibanez Tube Screamer pedal as well as a Metal Master distortion pedal to create a unique sound.


Title Recorded Released
Pure Fucking Armageddon 1985 1985
Deathrehearsal 1987 1987
Deathcrush 1987 1987
Live in Leipzig 1990 1993
Dawn of the Black Hearts 1990 1995
Freezing Moon/Carnage 1990 1996
Out from the Dark 1991 1995
De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas 1993 1994

He also released a demo with Checker Patrol in 1986.


  1. Euronymous' headstone
  2. [1]
  3. Steinke, Darcey. "Satan's Cheerleaders" SPIN Magazine, February 1996.
  4. Mayhem Biography on Yahoo! Music
  5. Varg Vikernes - A Burzum Story: Part II - Euronymous
  6. documents: Euronymous as Kafka
  7. rare Euronymous interview - SMNnews Forums
  10. rare Euronymous interview - - The SMN Forums
  11. Chris Campion on metal's maddest: Mayhem | Music | The Observer
  12. BLABBERMOUTH.NET - Updated: BURZUM Leader Fails To Return After Short Leave From Prison

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