Michael Moynihan,
Lords of Chaos:
The Bloody Rise of the
Satanic Metal Underground

(Feral House, 2003)

Lords of Chaos focuses on the Norwegian Black Metal scene of the early 1990s, and its influence on music fans and political activists both in Norway and around the globe.

The central figure in the scene was Varg Vikernes (at least according to these authors), who gained notoriety by murdering his friend, band leader and Black Metal guru/promoter Euronymous of the influential band Mayhem. From jail, Vikernes has made a number of shocking and radical statements, as well as self-published several treatises. Vikernes has toyed with Satanism in an anti-Christianity sense, with traditional Norwegian pagan heathenism and with nationalist/skinhead ideals. He claims burning churches isn't blasphemy -- the blasphemy lies in the churches themselves, which were constructed on top of heathen altars. He also makes enlightening comments about the need for female groupies to make any political movement attractive to the masses.

The authors carefully explore the Norwegian political climate and the presence of the State Church as part of the environment that led to the rise of Black Metal. Heavy metal influences from around the world are also painstakingly traced. Several interview subjects expound upon the difference between Norwegian Satanism (dedicated to destroying Christianity) and Anton LaVey's Church of Satan (focused on achieving pleasure through selfish desires and motives). In the closing chapters, the authors explore Black Metal true crime in Germany, as well as copycat pseudo-Satanic rituals, sacrifices and crimes committed by rabid fans in the U.S., Finland, England and other parts of the world. While the main figures in Norway and Germany maintain that Black Metal murders were due to interpersonal conflicts (NOT ritual sacrifices), the younger fans in other countries seem to glorify the music and commit senseless copycat acts in tribute to their heroes.

Michael Moynihan has created an exhaustively-researched treatment of music, politics and crime. The book avoids sensationalism at all costs and presents multiple points of view, especially in the dozens of interview subjects. The text is interspersed with hundreds of illustrations of band logos, album covers, fliers, traditional religious symbols, band members on stage, growing up and in prison, media articles, press releases and letters. The visual accompaniment greatly enhances the reading experience.

by Jessica Lux-Baumann
5 May 2007

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