Varg Vikernes: The Ultimate “Lord of Chaos”

Varg “Count Grishnackh” Vikernes might be the most infamous musician in all of Black Metal history. A convicted murderer and church arsonist known for his blatant racism, fascist views, and extreme nationalism, he continued to make himself notorious even through his prison sentence from 1994 to 2009. Most have grown intolerant of Varg and his actions, yet he continues to remain popular. Who he is and what he’s done has ultimately shaped the image he has created for himself to the world around him. Is this man a victim of a psychological disorder, or is he sane and simply using his belief system to justify his behavior? Regardless, through his life and actions, Vikernes has certainly presented himself as a self-absorbed, intolerant fool.

The young Varg

The young Varg

Vikernes was born as Kristian Vikernes in Bergen, Norway in 1973. Later, he changed his first name to “Varg.” He has an older brother and parents who divorced. His father left when he was young. According to an interview with Vikernes in Michael Moynihan’s and Didrik Soderland’s Lords of Chaos, he recalls memories of living in Iraq when he was six years old and becoming aware of “racial matters.” His parents showed a lot of racism, with his father “pissed” about people of other ethnicities around town, and his mother worried that Varg would bring home a black woman. Being brought up in a home and environment that encouraged racism probably contributed to Vikernes’ current views on race, which are even stranger than what he was exposed to in adolescence.

As a young musician, Vikernes immersed himself in the Norwegian Black Metal scene, starting his band Burzum in 1991. He also became involved in Mayhem, an original Black Metal band where he met Euronymous (his real name is Øystein Aarseth). But trouble soon began. According to his personal blog, Vikernes was involved with a record label Deathlike Silence Production, which was created by Euronymous to release the debut Burzum album. In order to afford it, Euronymous had to take out a loan. He ended up borrowing the money from Vikernes. Euronymous ultimately decided not to pay Vikernes back the approximate 5,100 U.S. dollars he owed, and instead bought other things and showed no effort to recompense Vikernes. Vikernes should have used common sense and not loaned money to friends, especially poor, starving artists like Euronymous. This loan was probably the beginning of distrust and dislike between these two musicians. Their close friendship quickly dissolved, with disturbing events following shortly after.

Vikernes and Euronymous in the early 1990s

Vikernes and Euronymous in the early 1990s

In addition to the loan issue, Euronymous had reacted oddly to Vikernes joking with him in an interview in an attempt to publicize Euronymous’s music shop, Helvete. The interview ended up with Vikernes arrested after Euronymous called the police. Vikernes claims that because of constant disputes between him and Euronymous, his once friend planned to kill Vikernes. The two musicians let petty, juvenile emotions rage on to destroy their relationship.

Eventually, Vikernes had had enough of Euronymous and decided to take matters into his own hands. On August 10th, 1993, in the wee hours of the morning, Vikernes showed up at Euronymous’s apartment in Oslo, Norway in an attempt to settle a “fuck off” contract. The two were going to sit down and literally sign a contract to stay away from each other. A dispute and fight occurred, which ended up with Euronymous dead. Vikernes had stabbed him 23 times in various places all over his body, including the back, head, and neck. Although no one is certain, the dispute appears to have been a power-struggle fueled by jealousy and the refusal to remain civil. Even though Vikernes claimed that the murder was self-defense, he pursued Euronymous out into the hall of his apartment complex, stabbing him along the way. Regardless of what actually happened, Vikernes was arrested a few days later. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murder of Euronymous, as well as for participating in four church arsons, including the burning of the 11th century Fantoft Stave Church.

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Vikernes on trial

This is when Vikernes developed a more noticeable public political voice. He stated that the church burnings were in response to a Christian take-over of his country hundreds of years ago. These arsons ended up ranked #10 in Metal Injection’s top 10 worst crimes committed by black metal musicians. The murder of Euronymous was ranked #1. Vikernes’s involvement in the arsons and his nationalist / traditional views sparked events all over Scandinavia with other Black Metal band members and enthusiasts, who began committing similar crimes in support of Varg’s “movements,” and Varg took advantage of this celebrity — While in prison, he wrote more than five books discussing his cultural roots and views, released two albums, and had groups actively supporting for him to get released.

Varg in 2013

Varg in 2013

Even out of jail, he continues to make himself heard. Through a personal blog called Ancestral Cult, Varg preaches to revive European philosophy and religion. Through another website he and his wife made, called the Thulean Perspective, he preaches his opinions and beliefs, stating, “No informed, sane, well-fed, healthy and free human being will ever convert or has ever converted to Judeo-Christianity! Both sites contain very harsh traditional expectations of people, such as keeping bloodlines pure, and are littered with both hidden and apparent racism. The site also expresses intolerance for certain groups of people, religions, countries, and ways of life. Vikernes calls these beliefs “just.” Recently, he was arrested in France for suspected terrorist acts and has to appear in court soon for breaching a racism law in his blog posts. Is this level of arrogance and bigotry a result of some mental issue? Or is it the result of Vikernes simply being a cynical person hiding behind his “Old World” standards and genetic lineage?

Vikernes's was convicted of arson for burning this church

Vikernes’s was convicted of arson for burning this church

Varg Vikernes is a tricky and complex creature. He carries himself with a strong presence and is a talented musician. He speaks very clearly with an educated tone, does his research, and is very outspoken in fighting for a cause. In some ways, these attributes seem to relate to a sense of honor. But Vikernes also manipulates those around him and shows no guilt, remorse, or empathy when doing damage to others. His murder of Euronymous and the arsons show a complete lack of self-control and consideration for others. Many of his behavioral traits indicate psychopathy. Sticking to ancient ways of life and holding grudges over events that happened hundreds of years ago will take Varg nowhere; they will only make many people around him intolerant and unaccepting. There’s nothing wrong per se in hold traditional views, but to let those views sway reason and logic, take lives, and engender animosity and prejudice all over the world serves no useful purpose. Vikernes lets bias and an antiquated belief system control his life. His actions and “beliefs” breach common human decency. “Count Grishnackh” is a waste of talent and a threat to human life.