As a genre black metal has stood the test of time. Despite being purposefully horrid in attitude and willfully trashy as far as production is concerned, black metal has found followers across the globe and seems to swagger from strength to strength. Like any good horror it contains genuine mystery and sinister overtones.
Metal in general has a machismo to it, but black metal has it in spades. A lot of the hype is just that, hype, but the genuine black metal inner circle also has some true darkness to it. Drawing pentagrams and painting your face isn’t really evil and it certainly isn’t scary, but some of the guys involved in the scene’s early days genuinely did seem a bit screw loose.
Most black metal musicians and fans are just music lovers like anyone else, but the first, genuine, original Norwegian black metallers had a real darkness to them. Vark Vikernes of the musical project Burzum was imprisoned for murder for instance. That’s not just bravado, that’s awful.
In 1991 the vocalist of Mayhem slashed his wrists and shot himself leaving a suicide note that included “Excuse all the blood, cheers”. Upon finding his body his band mates took photos, one of which ended up as an album cover. His band mates also found portions of his shattered skull and made them into necklaces.
So that gives you a quick glimpse into some of the dirty hype that surrounds the birth of the black metal scene in the frozen north of Europe. Peter Beste who was a fan of the music, but knew little of the people involved, decided to document some of the scene’s big players. Over numerous trips to Norway he found himself steadily accepted into the black metal crowd and took the impressively bleak and accidentally sweet photos shown here.
Of course, most of these black metal boys are just fellas that like loud music and strong beers but they certainly cut a dashing image. Check these out:
(Use your arrow keys/slide on mobile to view the images.)