Black metal has a long and rich history in Norway, and many people consider Norway to be the home of modern black metal because of bands like Mayhem and Darkthrone that became popular in the 90s.
The music genre has long been regarded as Norway’s biggest cultural export, and Norway and black metal is forever interwoven. But do regular Norwegians like black metal, and listen to it?
Despite what many people believe, most Norwegians do not like or listen to black metal. Black metal is a niche genre in Norway, and there are not a higher proportion of black metal listeners in Norway than in most other countries.
It’s not like all Norwegians listen to black metal, and I would argue that most regular Norwegians have no idea what black metal really is like, and don’t really know of it outside of the news.
The bands Satyricon and Dimmu Borgir are kind of household names in Norway, but it’s not something that most people listen to.
At the same time, black metal is pretty normalized in Norway. It’s not really strange to see someone wearing a black metal t-shirt in public, and it’s not reserved for the most hardcore fans as it is in many other places. You will sometimes hear black metal songs on mainstream radio stations, but not very often.
Black metal in Norwegian media
Black metal has obviously played a big role in the Norwegian media in the 90s, mainly because of the Mayhem controversy, and the stave church burnings by Varg Vikernes.
Let’s take a closer look at the biggest appearances of black metal in Norwegian media.
Mayhem has been a controversial band, and got a lot of media attention in the 90s. The media attention started with the death of Dead (Per Yngve Ohlin) and the infamous photo by Euronymous (Øystein Aarseth).
For those who aren’t in the loop, Euronymous found the body of his band member who had committed suicide, took a photo of it, then used the photo as a band cover. There are rumors that he used the skull to make jewelry, but this has not been confirmed to be true.
Euronymous was later murdered by another band member called Greven / Count Grishnackh (Varg Vikernes) due to conflicts in the Norwegian black metal community.
The black metal church burning in Norway
Fantoft stave church in Bergen burned to the ground on June 6, 1992, and was the first of multiple church burnings in the early 90s. Most people had no idea that this would only be the first of many church burnings in the coming months..
The burnings were quickly connected to the Norwegian black metal community (after an anonymous confession by Varg Vikernes in the newspaper), and a total of roughly 50 church burnings or ignition attempts were made in the following years. About 20 of these have been directly connected to the black metal community, but many speculate that most of them have direct ties to the members of the community.
At least 3 of these church burnings were proven to be done by Greven, and he was sentenced to a total of 21 year sentence in Norwegian prison for murdering Euronymous and setting fire to three churches. This is the maximum prison sentence you can get in Norway, but Vikernes has since been released from prison, and is now living in France and goes by the name Louis Cachet.
Fantoft stave church has since been remade as a replication, and can be found in Bergen. The replica is very popular among both black metals fans and regular tourists.
Modern media appearances of black metal in Norway
Black metal is no longer a regular member of the national media, and it’s very rarely mentioned.
The big bands like Mayhem, Dimmu Borgir, and Satyricon are sometimes featured in the national newspapers. Popular black metal bands tend to get reviews and press cover when they release new music.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.