Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground

Just before the turn of the millennium, nearly 100 churches have been torched and desecrated by adherents of Black Metal, the most extreme form of underground music on the planet.

In an escalating unholy war, Black Metal bands and their obsessive fans have left a grim legacy of suicide, murder, and terrorism spreading from Norway to Germany, Russia, America, and beyond…


I read this book nearly a decade and a half ago; I was kind of surprised how much of it I’d forgotten. At the time, (late teens/early twenties) a lot of it was probably lost to me or just didn’t stick. Despite the fact that I’ve got close to 200+ books waiting to be read, I had the urge to go back through this one. I felt much more engaged this time, probably because I’m more aware of and affected by the view points and politics this book covers, as well as familiar with many of the bands discussed. The grammatical errors though, shesh! Sooo, many misspellings and forgotten words. Despite that, the context was still well written even if Moynihan did spend a disproportionate amount of time devoted to Varg Vikernes.

I’m aware the black metal underground supports and preaches hate; homophobia, racism, sexism, extremist far-right and neo-nazi views, which are all positions I will not get behind. Granted, these perspectives come from a country with standards and a history very different from my own, so I can’t begin to relate or understand. But then, these are children dabbling in adult ideologies and then piling on contradiction after contradiction until they don’t even know what their own opinions are anymore. Insecure, angsty teenage boys; outcasts that lashed out with church burnings, boasting about Satan, and admitting to murder and other creative ways to appear extreme and evil … then had to barrow money from their mom to put their album out, lol.

Goddammit, their music is good though!

Reading some of these interviews by Varg and Øystein was an eye roll fest, but also highly entertaining and even a bit adorable in a I-want-to-pinch-your-corpse-paint-clad-cheek kind of way. Sensationalism, immaturity, and pomp. Although, Varg has some pretty intriguing viewpoints on the old Nordic religions, he definitely used his knowledge to morph and mold the Norwegian Black Metal underground into what it is today.

Isn’t Satanism about self-indulgence as opposed to self-destruction? Though there’s a freakishly fine line between the two, I prefer to keep a little levity and humor shrouding the inevitable, festering nihilism and existential despair beneath.

He was a very special person, a good friend. Very shy, very quiet. He didn’t talk to many people. He stuck to himself and a few people he knew. I got to know him in 1987 when he was recording a demo with his former band Morbid, and I got him in touch with Euronymous and he joined Mayhem in early ’88, because his band Morbid was folding. He and Euronymous had the same ideas about music and the stage show, so they fit well with each other. Dead had extreme views about everything: he talked about being non-human, not belonging on earth. He told me stories that he was almost dying when he was a kid, because he was sleeping so deeply and his face turned blue, and he wanted to die when he was only two or three years old. They couldn’t wake him when he was sleeping; I think it was something between deep sleep and unconsciousness.

Dead’s the only one I feel like I would have had a natural affinity towards.

6 thoughts on “Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground

  1. I got this book as a recommendation from Hil for my Husband as an Anniversary present a couple of years ago. I guess you’d say it was a gift for the both of us. I thoroughly enjoyed it I re-read it several times. I like Burzum but sometimes I really think Varg is an idiot.

    1. I understand the allure of the Odinic religion and the intrigue in heathenism, but can you seriously imagine if society just went back to that? I feel like Christianity is bad enough with stifling growth and innovation. But then, I’m a woman, and -according to Varg- I’ve already said too much by having an opinion at all, lol.

      1. Varg can suck it!

        I believe that everyone should be able to choose their own religion or whether they choose to believe in anything at all. If Society went back to heathenism in this day and age it would definitely be frowned upon. And Christians would be the first to attack (perhaps with bibles instead of pitchforks).

  2. I’ve never read this book but I have read things on it in metal mags. That was a long time ago. I like only ONE song by Burzum. Can you gals guess it? It’s in Filosofem.

    1. I would recommend it if you’re interested in the origins of black metal. Despite the fact that much of Varg’s views make me wince, I can’t help but love his earlier stuff. Aske was one of my favorites when I was first getting into black metal.

      Filosofem is a great album! Is your favorite Circumambulation of the Transcendental Pillar of Singularity? Cause it’s long and epic af!

  3. “Dunkelheit” and “Beholding the Daughters of the Firmament” are my favorites. Dark. and Morbid. The latter is the one I listen to most. That’s the favorite one.

    Eden, what’s tuttles?

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