Whilst in Oslo LTW enjoyed a Black metal coach trip”¦

A black metal coach trip! It’s is an idea so ridiculous that it had to work.
Initially dreamed up as some sort of arcane joke, the idea was to have the most cosy of tourist buses chugging through Oslo visiting the darkest shrines to the most nihilstic and most satanic music ever made. It could never work”¦
But here we are crammed with our fellow noiseniks, the Quietus music website team onto a plush double decker travelling round the snowbound Oslo streets looking at the dark heart of black metal.

Our guide is Anders Odden, IMC founder and guitarist in bands such as Cadaver, Magenta, Apoptygma Berzerk and Celtic Frost. His commentary is pretty funny as he deals with the dark subject matter of this most extreme of scenes.
Anders has the form. He was there at the start of the music and he has a sardonic wit that makes him the perfect host.

Black metal, named after the 1982 Venom album, was the music form dreamt up by a handful of misanthropic Norwegians in the early nineties and became notorious for a series of church burnings and then the murder of Mayhem member Euronymous, real name Øystein Aarseth , who thought up the whole concept by Vark Vikerenes or Count Grisnarch- the sole member of rival band Burzum.

For Euronymous death metal hadn’t gone far enough and his concept was to make a music so satanic and anti melodic with blast beats, lots of distortion and record it as heavy and lo fi as possible that no-one could possibly like it. There was face paint, lots of studs and a heavy anti Christianity intent.

Off course it ended up sounding quite brilliant and became the must have for every lank haired street rat on the planet with black metal becoming something to talk about on away day trips by your author from India to Algeria to Cuba and beyond.

Euronymous, who ran the single record shop dedicated to the form during May”“June 1991 called Helvete (Norwegian for hell) had a single-minded vision. He would ban people from his shop (which was a room with shelf of records according to Anders) for wearing white sneakers, which seems pretty reasonable to me.

He also idolised Pol Pot which was a bit trickier to applaud.

The music’s intensity and anti music motifs also seems pretty reasonable and is not that far away from the foul racket that we grew up playing in the post post punk era. We didn’t have all the satanic stuff though and the nihilism that saw the initial Norwegian black metal scene eat itself in an eventual orgy of madness.

Ironically their anti music has become a key cult form in the world and a catalyst for an amazing amount of left field creativity in Norway where black metal has morphed into all kinds of forms.

With this in mind the bus winds its merry way up the hill and the monied suburbs of Oslo to the Holmenkollen Chapel Stave church which was burned down by burned down by, apparently although never proven Varg Vikernes, Euronymous and BÃ¥rd ‘Faust’ Ethiun in 1992 although it was denied by all of them.

Completely rebuilt the Stave church is an amazing building- wooden, it looks like a Buddhist shrine with a strangely shaped pointy roof. Everyone gets off the bus but the security won’t let us get close. Dressed in yellow anoraks they glare at the dark clothed bus passengers. Anders explains that there is a ski championship at the nearby terrifying looking ski slope and security is tight.

Quite how they imagine anyone could burn down a ski slope is another story.
Back on the bus we wend down the slope to the former site of Helvete records which is now a very nice coffee shop where we get free coffee before sloping down the cellar where the black metal droogs would watch snuff movies or stay over when visiting Oslo. On the wall a feint ”ËœBlack Metal’ logo is sprayed. It was painted by Euronymous before his death- and is an unlikely shrine.

We finish up at the famous Neseblod Records, passing the Tøyengata apartment block where Euronymous was stabbed to death by Verg Vikerens.

Neseblod is a part record shop, part black metal museum and perhaps the last place on earth crammed with cassettes of bands as well as a mountain of vinyl and Euronymous wrist band nailed to wall with ”“”Ëœreal human bone’ written next to it. It’s an amazing place- a portal to a different time.

The trip is a glimpse to a different time. Meanwhile black metal remains potent in myriad of forms from the fierce noise of Immortal, the fiercer and more melancholic noise of 1349, the ambient industrial of Ulver of the Norse runes Viking music explorations of Wardruna.

More information on the bus trip

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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