Forget Lords of Chaos. Forget every half-assed "history of metal" book you've seen moldering on a Barnes & Noble bookshelf. There are a lot of great metal history books out there, but very few that do any justice at all to the always intriguing, often infuriating, and occasionally impenetrable global phenomenon that is black metal. Dayal Patterson's Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult series is the best ousider-looking-in document I've encountered, and of course Metallion's The Slayer Mag Diaries remain essential, but even those pillars pale in comparison to the near-mythical weight of a first-hand account.
Now, thanks to Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace Library label, black metal fans will have the opportunity to take a trip back in time to the early Nineties, and watch black metal's bloody rise through the eyes of someone who was actually there. Jorn Stubberud—forever known best as Necrobutcher—has completed his long-awaited illustrated biography of one of Norwegian black metal's most norotious bands, under whose banner he has marched since its inception in 1984: Mayhem.
The book was co-translated by Victor Szepessy and Jan Bruun, and according to press materials, "During the band’s ongoing career, now spanning thirty years, bass player and only surviving band member from the original line-up, Jørn “Necrobutcher” Stubberud, has collected enormous amounts of photographs, video diaries and memorabilia… In this unique documentary book, Stubberud shares the first groundbreaking years of Mayhem’s existence including their first photo-sessions in full corpse regalia; recording sessions, and exclusive stills from live video footage of their earliest gigs. In Necrobutcher’s Death Archives he shares rarely seen photos of the band before death of singer Pelle “Dead” Ohlin and murder of guitarist Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth… The book is not only a documentation of a band – it is also a story about Norway, and a unique Norwegian subculture where a deep fascination for authentic Nordic culture and nature is deeply immersed."
Read our exclusive excerpt (featuring photos from Necrobutcher's archives!) below, and get your ordering fingers ready—I can't wait to read this thing. It's up for preorder in the US here and UK here.
Londoners will have a special opportunity on June 2, to see Necrobutcher spin his tales in the flesh, when Thurston Moore will interview the black metal god in person at the official London launch party for The Death Archives (to be held at Rough Trade East's Truman Brewery, starting at 9PM).
Follow the freezing moon…
“Mayhem, expect mail.”
“ […] I once saw an interview with Varg Vikernes where he was asked about Mayhem and he said, “Those guys, they just sit around dreaming about how big they’re going to be while drinking Coke.” I thought he really hit the nail on the head. I recognized myself. We had ideas and plans but some of it became reality. We had detailed plans for organizing gigs and producing work […] It was obvious to us, we all felt that this is it after our very first rehearsal in 1984. I still have that feeling after thirty years. We decided to rent a post office box. It meant we were serious. We needed a rubber stamp with our name and address. We carefully studied typefaces until we found the right one. The old Langhus station was remodelled into a post office. It was one kilometer from home in Vevelstad and four hundred meters from our rehearsal space at the time. They sold train tickets and offered post office boxes and mailing department in a separate room. We thought that was cool. We rented box no. 75. The back of Deathcrush is stamped: MAYHEM, BOX 75, 1405 LANGHUS. Pure Fucking Armageddon was also stamped. After the article in Slayer magazine wherein the editor wrote: “Mayhem, Expect mail!”
Letters flooded in from all over the world. We’d tagged the station with ‘Mayhem’ by the tracks so everyone knew they were entering Mayhem country! They painted over it and we tagged it again so they left it after that. I don’t know if we thought of it back then but our post office box was located on the other side of the tracks. The people working at the post office had to have noted some connection between the big upside-down crosses and the piles of mail addressed to Mayhem. I’m guessing we were their most interesting customers. Since we rehearsed close by, had our PO box there, and spent so much time at the station, we felt very connected to this place. When we painted the logo we were likely inspired by the movie The Warriors and the way various NYC street gangs tagged their turf. This was Mayhem’s turf. Foreign train traffic also ran past the station so if you travelled from another country you would know that this was our turf. The logo stayed up for a long time. We found slips in our PO box notifying us that “suspicious mail” had arrived and we’d have to ask for it at the counter. Once we were told that it was illegal to send currency through the mail. We had asked fans to wrap their money well when sending it to us, to pay for demos and such, but they started sending coins. The mailroom people would say it’s illegal and they shook the envelope in front of us rattling the coins. “P.S. Don’t send coins!” we told new fans.
One day I found a package, opened it, and a bloody horrible smell leaked out. There was a cassette tape in there so I removed it and threw the rest on the back of the pick-up truck. It all blew away on the way home. It was a crucified mouse, a letter and a cassette from Per Ohlin. He introduced himself and his band Morbid and proposed a visit to Norway. Metalion had told him that we were looking for a singer. The tape was Morbid’s December Moon demo. Luckily his contact information was on the actual tape. He told me that he’d been to the Black Mark office, Bathory’s label, and also presented either Quorthon or his dad with a crucified mouse. They freaked out and had him thrown out of the office. It turned out that a dead mouse had to be included in his introduction and it had to be crucified. […] ”
Excerpted from the book THE DEATH ARCHIVES: MAYHEM 1984-94 by Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud (Ecstatic Peace Library, 2016) with permission from Ecstatic Peace Library. The book will be released 6.6.16