Old stuff

Ok folks,

A few have asked about the old L.E.G.O. consert tapes, and I've promised to digitalise it years ago. Today I delivered the tapes to Kenneth at Neseblod , and he will digitalise them and make them available. I'll come back to how and when.

I also gave other items from the good old times, among them some letters and fanzines and some previously unpublished pictures.

The reason for giving this to Kenneth is that there's not many people more dedicated to Norwegian BM in the world. So when he asked for items for an exhibition this spring in Oslo, I felt it was the right thing to give him what little I had.



Big Robot

For Norwegian readers.

Big Robot

Orwell just missed the exact date

I read the book "War of the world" by Niall Ferguson not to long ago. In the book he ask how it could be that the 20th century ended up being the most violent century in mankind's history on earth. It should have been different if knowledge, the spread of social welfare, equality and democratic society had any effect on our behavior, shouldn't it? But it has been turbulent times indeed, no one is arguing that. And it hasn't ended with the 20th century either. The 21st has started pretty grim.

Why is this? Ferguson offer a good and very long explanation, of course. I recommend the book. I'm not even going to try to explain the meta structures he so well describes. But keeping the holistic view of the underlying fundamental patterns that needs to be present for a conflict to arise on hold for a moment, there's a couple of things that worries me in 2011.

One is the religious decease that seems to be growing stronger and stronger in all corners of the world, and the other is the governmental structures that are being built by our bureaucrats and politicians to make the world a safer place. One could argue that they're connected, and I agree that they often are. But it's not necessary so. They're not dependent on each other. Why are they disturbing my peace? Well, to you readers, and to people that know me, the religion part is given, isn't it. Manheim is against organized religion, period. And yes. It is something within me that reacts every time someone brings religion onto the table. In this context it is not the faith I'm worried about, it is the effect religion has on establishing conflicts. It is often said that religion in it self is not a bad thing, and that it is the ?evil? extremists that are causing all the problems. But I argue different. In my opinion, what we see today in the world is very much caused by peoples religious beliefs. The extremists are of course doing the work when it comes to terrorist acts and other unintelligent behaviour, but they are being legitimized by the worlds religious population by offering them respect for their beliefs and an understanding for their rage.

An example is this stupid pastor in Florida. A christian extremist, who's beliefs and opinions doesn't vary much from the unbelievable Tea party movement, decides to show his disgust for Islam by burning the Koran. He's not doing anything wrong there, in my opinion ? it's just a book. But people in the middle east thinks different. So they riot. And they kill all westerners they can, because the Christians has done this against them..... what? Done what? Destroyed a book? What could possible explain this reaction from the people in Afghanistan apart from religion? They're not genetically less intelligent than the rest of the human population in the world down there, so if we're going to avoid such racist explanations we need to look for another reason. I say it is religion.

Religion is causing harm and conflict, and that's just the way it is. And one of the problems is, when people say they are offended or someone is blasphemous, the world is full of understanding and respect. There are even people today arguing that it is the stupid pastor in Florida's fault that people are being killed in the middle east right now. Like it is a fully understandable and acceptable behavior to kill if someone burns a book you really really liked. Oh.. correction .. a RELIGIOUS book, it must be of course.

It's scary, that's what it is. And until someone convince me otherwise, I stand by my opinion that religion is causing many of the conflicts that are terrorizing the world today. Religion is blindfolding people, and blocking their rational thought. It's delusional and dangerous, and is not showing any sign of being a bringer of good and mutual understanding in the world. It is doing the exact opposite, in my opinion. But the other thing that worries me is how all these conflicts are affecting the free and democratic parts of the world. Not the actual fear of being attacked by terrorists, but the means that politicians and bureaucrats are willing to, or even wanting to, go to to make us all safe. In their eager to make the world a safer place, and to catch criminals and terrorists, they've started to dismantle our freedoms and democratic building blocks.

They're doing this by limiting our freedoms and imposing laws that gives the authorities access to tools that we thought would never be used in a free society. The latest development here in Norway is the Parliament decision to implement an EU directive in our laws that enforce a surveillance of all citizens electronic communications and usage of Internet. In a year or so, the Norwegian authorities will log when I send an e-mail, to whom I send it to, and where I was when I did it. They will log all mobile activity, where I am, who I talk to, how long we talked, who I send messages to etc etc. They will also log all my internet activity, by saving all IP addresses I use and visit.

Why on earth would EU and Norway implement such a regime? We're not being run by fascists and dictators, are we? We're the most free and democratic part of the world! Well, if one is to believe the authorities here, they do it to ensure our safety. They do it so they can catch criminals, child molesters and terrorists. They're implementing citizen surveillance so that they can arrest us if we do something wrong. If we don't have anything to hide, we should not be worried, they say. To me this sounds like they are changing a principle in law where one is innocent until proven otherwise. Now we are all suspected criminals until our innocence is proven.

Sounds like science fiction, doesn't it? Or to be specific, isn't this exactly what Big brother in George Orwell's novel 1984 was described to do? Big Brother did it to protect everyone, from everything. The path to hell (pardon the metaphor) is paved with good intention, isn't it. And what we thought of as totally impossible to actually do in practice, when reading 1984, is now turning into reality in Europe. The state is turning things upside down. It no longer serves the people, now it's turning into something more like the people serving the state. On the road to security bureaucrats are sacrificing freedoms and human rights faster than we could believe possible just years ago. It's just too sad. This is exactly what the terrorists and the religious leaders want. They do not want personal freedom, they do not want freedom of speech and human rights. They want laws against blasphemous acts, they want the human population to live under their strict rules of behavior, they want their specific religion to rule the world.

On the bright side, there's a massive protest against this in Europe. And hopefully we will see that the bureaucrats loose and personal integrity and freedom win. In the fight against this development I personally hope that secularism gain land also. It is fundamental for a free society in my opinion. But for now the development is going in the wrong direction.


ok, I made a lot of promises on what I'd post here in 2010. And I didn't keeep one of them.

Sorry about that, I've been kinda busy.

Just to let you all know. I haven't forgotten, and will be posting here again shortly.

New service - check it out

Musicnodes, I love it

Insightful article

If you're interested in death and black metal, you might find this article interesting. Insightful and music oriented, from deathmetal.org.

Pirates of the Internet

I guess most of you have heard about the Pirate Bay trial, and that they where found guilty by the Swedish court. I don't think it is a good thing to steal anything, but I am puzzled by the case against file sharing and especially Pirate Bay. The music industry has a long history in fighting anything that they feel threaten their control over the distribution. They fought against radio, they fought against cassette tapes, they fought against video, and for some years now they have fought against the private use of legally bought CD's and the Internet. It is something not so likable about it all, I say.

According to the music industry, I have committed a crime since my first cassette tape of music. My first crime against the music industry was in the form of a gift from my uncle, and it was a cassette tape copy of Procul Harum.I loved it and played it over and over - but little did I know that I was a hard core criminal at the point. I've later purchased music from Procul Harum, so I guess i've done my repending without even knowing it.

But, I've kept on copying music from friends, and have copied tapes to friends for a very long time. I've recently copied my own CD's into digital formats so I can listen to it through different players, and I've been so evil that I have taken pictures at concerts even though they said I wasn't allowed....(that was a dliberate action, I'm afraid). But do I feel criminal? I can't say I do. All I've done is in the name of enthusiasm over music. I've been a music evangelist for music I love, and I've been eager to listen in on new music. Both the reason for copying music to my friends, and copying music from my friends. I can't say I felt even a sting of guilt by doing this. But since the Internet the music industry has told me over and over again how horrible a crime all this is, so I guess I am guilty in their view.

Reading about the industry taking housewifes to court because of their filesharing of a handfull songs, makes me wonder. They call it "setting an example", and indeed they are. But what kind of example? An example on what you face if you share your music, or an example of a industry so obsessed with control and the money that follows, that they are willing to send a relatively innocent person into life long debts for sharing? Is this the industry crying for their own mother, or is it reflecting the artists will?

My guess is that they protect their industry and corporations - and not the creativity and well being among their artists. And I'll explain why.
But Pirate Bay, you can argue, is not an innocent family guy that happened to share his favorite album on the Internet. They call themselves pirates with a cassette scull as their symbol, god dammit!  Yes, I also see this point. They are probably not really that innocent. They know what their doing of course. Even though The Bay doesn't actually have any illigal content, they are quite open about why they do what they do; provide the public with an one track minded and easy way to access torrent based files that by large contain content that you should otherwise be paying for. I do appreciate the right musician's or film producer's have to get paid for their work, and will be first in line to tell people that you should pay for a song if you like it and intend to store it or use it. But I also see that it is very difficult to control this marked like one did before the Internet. And I'm not certain that I want the pre-internet situation back. Are musicians in general really the winners, if no one was allowed to share any of their songs without paying $19,99 for their CD releases? I don't think so. The big names, like i.e. U2, Madonna and Metallica can argue that almost every file share is an economic loss. But a small band from Oslo couldn't argue like that at all. They are probably in the benefitial end of file sharing. By having their music spread virally on the internet, making them famous and even increasing their sales, they probably depend on the viral spread that goes with the file sharing activities. While the big names have a big contract with a global label, a small underground band probably don't. And if we look at the situation before the Internet, their chances of getting a contract with global distribution was next to zero. But with the Internet, and with the wildly spread of torrentfiles they now can "risk" that thousands around the globe will know of them in almost an instant. When that happens they can of course join the crying choir, because they then will have a label and a contract, and enter the world of control and money.

Now, don't get me wrong on this. I do think that it is a very good thing that musicians earn loads of money on what they do. That's not my point. But it is to be said that not all file sharing is of a bad character.

So why try to stop file sharing? It is only one reason for it, and that is money. If you take out money from the formula, everything about file sharing is of the good. It makes it possible for small bands to get distribution, and it makes people more available for new music, because they don't have to buy a song to listen to it to find out if they like it so much that they will pay for the album, or pay for the concert that are being put up for the band. I know this sounds a bit ideal, and I know that many artist disagree with me because in the end what pays for their ability to produce music is the value chain of music distribution. But, and there is a big but, what if the file sharing people really love your music? What if they just use file share to get music they otherwise wouldn't pay for, or that they just want to check out. What if?

Could it be that file sharing is only bad for the establishment of traditional marked control in the music industry? What if the only one loosing in this exchange between artists and the public, are those who have a business modell that depends on having control on what reaches the marked? Should we protect the business modell, or should we protect the creativity and prulalism that follow? That is a retorical question, I know. Of course we want the creativity to benefit. But did it benefit in the pre-internet world? I would say no. The pre-internet system, was dominated by a few big corporations, that had nearly full control of the distribution in record shops, and on the radio. It was only the bands they chose that got attention. To ensure this, the big record companies spend unspeakable sums on marketing and branding, not to mention on copyrighting and other protective instruments. The model didn't fail - we have got a huge number of brilliant artists within the model. But the model did not fit well with free creativity, and I'm convinced that a lot of brilliant artists have been "silenced" by the system, because they didn't get the attention from the controlling coorporations.

There's to many examples to back this statement up, so I won't go into them. But let me use Mayhem as a reference.

Now, Mayhem was not very well liked in the norwegian music industry. We weren't liked in the media industry at large, to be honest. Not even our friend musicians liked what we did. They mostly said we wasted our talent and efforts. Trying to get a contract was beyond any realistic hopes. So what did we do? Confident that we where on to something, we carried on. But we did know that we had to do things on our own, if we should go anywhere.Thx to Øystein, who I must say was the one who made us hang on distribution wise.

So what did we do? Well, we shared. We spend all our spare money on stamps....... We copied music, recorded our own, send it all over the world to likeminded, and got loads of tapes back. Back in the 80ies this was known as the undergorund. And bands like Napalm death, Sepultura and others where a part of that exchange of musics and ideas. Through that we got our name and music known around the world. Without the copying of our tapes that would never have happened. Because there was no way that the establishment in the music industry would've published us. The recording of Deathcrush was, if I recall it correctly, paid for by Necro as a whole. No label was involved, and we shipped it to all corners of the globe. We put out a few copies of the album in London and ended up on top of Kerrangs imported list - someone obviously had made some copies of the record, otherwise we would not have ended up on the list at all. The point is - without the enthusiasm among people around the world, making copies and bootlegs, Mayhem would probably have been a local phenomena in the cold north of Norway. The music industry was certainly not interested in pushing Mayhem forward - to them we was not a likely money maker. And that is what it's all about. The old system is not good for creativity, it's good for money making. If you control the marked and the distribution, you deside what  people get to listen to or not - and that is songs you have the rights on. If you as a band ended up on the "not-list", you might as well just make the band into a cozy hobby or give up. But the Internet have completly changed this.

I guess that Deathcrush is still being copied through portals like The Pirate bay, but so what? It makes more people listening to the album, and probably more buyers of concert tickets and t-shirts.And who knows, probably more people will buy the record than without the fileshare?  According to a survey done by the Norwegian school of economics (BI) this year, people who are active on filesharing are 10 times more willing to pay for the music they like! I rest my case, even though I am pretty sure that the industry will discredit the research for being too light and therefore not trustforthy. Just wait and see.

At a conference in Oslo the other day, one of the speakers said (I think it was Chris Anderson from Wired) that the Internet would not kill music and artists. But it would kill the system of old school music industry labels. I tend to agree.
The old system will fall, sooner or later. Wether the big companies like Warner Music and Sony will fall with it depends on what they do. There are alternative ways of selling music, and there are alternative ways of handling the value chain between artists and the public. There are even an alternative for copyright, namely the very successful Creative commons system.

So what's the conclution on this? Well, I honestly do not know. But something is in the making, and I do hope (and actually think) it is for the best for music. What I do know, is that I don't want the old system back. I do think that there must be something better with the free distribution that todays internet represent, than the old system where label moguls ruled the arena. It might end up with less billionares among artists, but millionares will still be there.

What I do expect, is that the industry will adopt and change. That we will see new business modells emerge, and that the fight against file sharing will be less important, and even something we can laugh about as we do over the industry's attempt to stop video.

Flowers in the dustbin

Some weeks ago I got an email from a German journalist about Flowers in the dustbin and L.E.G.O. He asked me to post something on this blog, or give him some answers by mail. I've desided to post something here, since there's probably some more out there who could be interested.


Flowers in the dustbin. Beautiful name, btw. Of course picked up from the use of the term in the punk movement. I don't know if it was something we had from what John Lydon said (his been given the quote "we're the flowers in the dustbin") , or if he said it refering to underground punk compilations that was named flowers from the dustbin. But it doesn't matter. It is a very telling and good way to describe somthing. To us the band was a silly project øystein and I was a part of together with some friends from Ski. It was short lived, but very fun. If I recall it correctly we had only one performance, and that was it. As a matter of fact I think the reason for us to establish the project in the first place, was that particular concert.


It was in other words probably not the most magnificent contribution to the music history we made, but it was in accordance with the most core tradition of punk; straight forward and honest.


If someone wonder why, it is a very simple answer for that and that is that we thought it was a fun idea. But I doubt that we would've done it if it hadn't been for our interest for punk. I for myself loved punk, and still do. My favorite punk band is probably Exploited, but there's so many good bands and songs from "the glory days of punk" that it is difficult to tell what dominated the record player at the time.


I guess punk inspired metal bands all over the world, even though many of us didn't choose the genre for our own expressions.


Then it is L.E.G.O. Now that was a different and much more serious project. Also this was Øystein and I. As you've probably have got to understand in my postings, we did listen to a lot of experimental music (still do). And we loved the way some master minds in music?s managed to create soundscapes of noise and harmony to a nearly unheard of perfection. The sound is everything in some genres, and it was inspirering to listen to the masters of that universe.


In Mayhem we could follow this up within the project?s limits. But we wanted to explore this more freely and had all sorts of strange and fun ideas on what to do and in what context. 


One evening we were having a fun talk at Jørns place, discussing an experimental classical work. The creative idea began to take form, and we decided to go for it, but we needed a name for the project. Since this was experimental, loosely built on classical tradition, we tasted on the name ?Langhus Experimental Chamber Orchestra? Langhus being the place we lived in and since it was only the two of us it had to be a chamber orchestra. After a few rounds on it, it didn?t taste that well until one of us came up with the given ?grave chamber?. Alas the name was Langhus Experimental Grave chamber Orchestra L.E.G.O.


Next in line we needed to give the concept we were talking about a name, and having had a few drinks, Metallion (from Slayer Mag.) had a moment of clearness when listening to our strange talk. Like an almost dead person suddenly springing into life he opened his eyes, put his finger up in the air and declared ?A fly?s death?! We immediately loved the idea, and decided to arrange the piece according to a fly?s life from birth to death.  I do think Metallion almost immediately went back to sleep, but we stayed up building the concept.


One day we held the concert and it is on video tape. Probably it is out there in the internet cloud. I remember playing the violin for the first time in my life that evening. It was a wonderful way of showing the agony a fly must feel when it is reaching its time of death :-)

While Flowers in the dustbin was a musical one night stand, L.E.G.O. was not. We had a few more concerts and did experiment with different instruments and sounds. The latest concept we were thinking of was to arrange triangle concerts at remote places around the globe, leaving a specially designed piece of Lego. We never managed to realize it.


That was a short trivia on these two side projects. Both build on the fun of it, but L.E.G.O. was both fun and serious.


I thought I'd recommend a record to play in these cold winter daysdmkirke -
at least they are cold enough here in the north. The record is from the concert Sunn o))) held in Bergen a few years ago, together with Lasse Marhaug and Attila. It really is worth having in your collection, and listen to in times when you need something all consuming :-)

Unfortunately it is only available in vinyl. On the other hand vinyl is a wonderful format for sound, so if you're into this it should be of no concern, really. 

R.I.P. Kjartan

180pxkjartanslettemarktenstakonsthall2008I've just heard the sad news about the artist Kjartan Slettemark death on saturday at the age of 76. An extra ordinary person and brilliant artist has left us. I was priviliged to do a show together with him a couple of years ago, and had hoped for a chance to repeat it some day. To bad it now will not happen. My deepest condolences to those who stood him near.

Once upon a time in Norway

I've just looked through the new documentary about Mayhem and the early days of Norwegian black metal. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. They've managed to give a very accurate and balanced presentation of it all. So if you're interested in the history, this is something you should see.

I guess I should thank the people behind it. They really have done a good job on this one. And it has probably not been easy to stay on the course with so many rumors and tales that surround the early days. It's all on Youtube, but be kind to these people and buy it also, ok?

A record of the few

If you're interested in contemporary synth music from the 70'ies you probably know of Klaus Schultze. If you know of him you probably know the record "X" very well. xalbumIt is a wonderful LP which combines classical tradition with Schultze's recognizable sound image and compositions ? all performed on his rig of synthesizers.

I?ve listened to this a lot in the 80ies, and recently put it back on after recommending it to a friend of mine. It was a nice reunion.  A lot of memories from late nights after rehearsals, relaxing to this wonderful piece of composition, came back.  I?ve earlier recommended another record from this man, but there?s room for one more.

Christian black metal - is there such a thing?

Christian black metal - is there such a thing? And what on earth drives Christians to choose black metal as their expression? Well, Stefan Rydehed is about to try to find out why, and I look forward to see the result.


I have seen arguments among the Christian metal bands, that you can't connect religion to musical genre. If you see the trailer on Rydehed's documentary you'll see that this argument is also used by one of the musicians he interviews. And I agree. In principal the musical expression in itself has nothing to do with political or religious beliefs. It's the meaning and purpose you put into it that add any direction as such. So, I guess Christians who love the music, just want to play it.


It brings to my mind the memory of a Christian rock song called "why should the devil have all the good music". I just googled it to see who that singer was, and it turns out to be CCmers who wrote the song based on a misquote of reverend Rowland Hill, pastor of Surrey Chapel in London who according to the sources I found in my limited search actually said "The devil should not have all the best tunes" (don't nail me on this fact - it really was a limited search). Now, there is a significant difference between these two sentences. The first indicates that Christians should (or could) take "all" good music genres and use it to write songs to their god. The latter indicates no such thing. I'm not going to enter that discussion, since I am not a Christian and should leave internal Christian theology and ethics to the Christians. But I think there might be a clue in there somewhere, which might explain some Christian black metal bands. If they think black metal has a bad influence on people, in the context of driving them away from their god and what they are convinced is the truth. They might try to compensate and give them an alternative message - with the same musical genre. They like the genre, but they don't like the message, in other words. And to me this is all fine, whatever rocks their ocean.


But I must say that I find it odd to listen to a Christian black metal band, and to see them perform. The expression is quite aggressive - both in musical terms and in the theatrical package it comes with. And on top of this the genre rests on a mountain of anti religion. It has a kind of misfit to it, when all that is being brought out with a Christian message. I'm not saying that Christians should only write and sing psalms, but why choose black metal? It certainly isn't black metal if they do - it is something else, which sounds like black metal. Let's call it something perfectly, but not exactly, similar, to black metal. I like weird expressions, so by all means. But I am pretty sure that in the case of Christian?s perfectly, but not exactly, similar, black metal, I might like how the music sounds, but I will not like the message :-)


About that logo

I met Necro at a party the other day, and we had a few laughes as usual. We came to talk about the different documentaries that are being produced, and he said that even I have told things that aren't quite true in my interviews. Well, I guess not - it's been some years and I can't remember everything correct. And besides, things can come out wrong when things are cut and put together to make a good movie. It really isn't of any importance - usually.

But what bothers me is that I actually remembered the making of the Mayhem logo wrong. And it didn't come out wrong because of things taken out of it's contex. I just remembered it wrong. If it was me, or Necro it was about, I wouldn't bother much about it. But in this case I must appologize to my friend Nella.

So, even if I say different in an interview, the truth is that we have Nella to thank for this legendary logo.

Posting comments and security

Unfortunatly there's been released a new security check on comments that is in norwegian only. I've asked the service developer to come up with an english version. Hopefully they will soon. Until then, I'm afraid you need to learn norwegian befor you can pass the security :-(

There's doom metal, and there's Sunn O)))

I've listened a lot to the Sunn O))) lately. I do hope you have to. This band is what I choose to call solid wood. They had a ground breaking performance in the Dome church in Bergen, together with Lasse Marhaug and Attila on vocals, and I deeply regret I didn't take the trip over to see them. But shit do happen, and this was one of my mistakes that I have to live with.

But if I'm correctly informed all of us that coldn't be present at the concert, will be able to get a glimpse at the experience next year. The album will be called "Domkirken" and is to be released on the Southern Lord label in january. Have your credit cards ready, this is something to look forward to!

Here's more about it (in norwegian)

Books to read

These books are a welcomed read. I highly recommend them:

The God delusion and God is not great is excellent works by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, explaining their views of religion and religious faith. Needless to say, I totally agree with their views.

Well said!

Stefan Rydehed's documentary is being shared

There's a documentary coming up. Stefan Rydehed is behind it. Here's some low quality clips on Youtube from it.

Capitalism, Terrorism, Globalism and Conspiracy

This is a wonderful performance. Dr .Michael Parenti held this speech some years ago, but it is worth listening to. Sit down and enjoy.

So why did Venom even play a role?

image16I have promised that I was going to talk about Venom. Of course Venom played a role in the early years, before black metal as a genre emerged. I know that it sounds strange - how did a stupid band like that manage to influence norwegian black metal? It is a good question. They where kind of childish, Venom. Teachers pet, and all that.

Well, the thruth is actually quite simple. The summer the record "Black metal" hit the norqegian marked, a friend of ours bought the record. He didn't like it himself, but gave us a copy because he thought we might find it interesting - given what we where thinking of with our own project. This was before Mayhem was established. We listened a lot to that album, and we where fascinated. Not only by the music, but mainly by the image and themes of the album.

It might be fair to asume that Venom was the seed for Mayhem as a image. They did something totally different, but we certainly had them as inspiration. And to manifest that we covered the song Black metal and wiching hour. Mayhem would have emerged without them, but probably under a different genre name. With Mayhem we took it much further, but the historical link is without question. Venom named the genre, without knowing I guess.

Now, is Venom worth while listening to? I say yes. For the ones that really want to explore the black metal genre, you should listen to Venoms album "black metal" and their album "at war with satan". They where two records we
used a lot of time listening to, and they gave us inspiration to build the satanic image. Musically their only interseting in a historical sense, and for some of us - bacuase of nostaligia :-)

Boralis satelite festival 2007

It is now confirmed that we will perform at the Satelite Boralis festival the 30. May 2007 in connection with the Bergen International Festival "Festspillene i Bergen" . I will perform together with the norwegian noise musician Lasse Marhaug and performance artist Kjartan Slettemark.

This is what the program tells you about our little gettogether:

The world premiere for a dark noise trio: Kjartan Slettemark (1932) is a well-known Norwegian political artist who renounced his Norwegian nationality in 1966. He makes a dark masquerade along with the audience. Kjetil Manheim was the drummer in the legendary Norwegian black metal band Mayhem (1983–). Lasse Marhaug is at the forefront of today’s Norwegian noise, and is sewing a bed of nails for the occasion. The newly-started contemporary ensemble Bergen Music Pool aims to lighten the mood with current hits. Conductor: Manuel Nawry.

Satelitt Borealis is curated (sic) by the Borealis Festival, a contemporary music festival in March 2007, including a concert on 12 March with the Danish Radio Choir, co-arranged by the Bergen International Festival. Satelitt Borealis’s programme includes works by Nono, Bent Sørensen, Gabrieli and Monteverdi.

Am I evil?

I often get the question if I’m a Satanist, a worshiper of the devil. The reason for this is of course my background in Mayhem and our choice of symbolism and evil style. Tired of the questions I’ve decided to post an answer in my blog – an answer that is a bit more thorough than a simple yes or no. Now, that might be an answer in itself for many readers, but read me out.

To start with Mayhem. I can’t answer for us all, of course not. I can only give an answer from my point of view. Øystein is no longer with us, and I do not wish to put any opinion in his mouth post mortem. Necro is still with us, so if you’re interested in his story – ask him.

Now, am I evil? Or, do I worship Satan?  The simple answer goes like this; No I am not evil, and I do not believe anyone should be evil either. But if the christian bible is true, I guess I am on Lucifer's side, but I do not think that is the evil side. Confusing? Well, I guess it might be without any further explanation. To further add to the confusion, I want to underline the fact that I personally do not believe that the christian bible represent any form of truth, neither did I back in the eighties.

How come I then started this Mayhem, black metal, Satanist, occult thing then? First of all I did not start that – I started a band together with two very good friends. The band took the form of Satanism and black metal, true, but it wasn’t  that who triggered the birth of the band. It was not even given a name when we started – Mayhem as the name of the band came long after we started to form ourselves. Why then, you may ask, did we dress it up with Satanism and evil? That my friends, do have an explanation. First we all disliked authorities, furthermore we really disliked the christian church, and last we liked heavy metal and the style of the occult. Bands like Celtic frost, Venom, Black Sabbath and their like was what we listened to and we liked their form of expression and style.

Satanism was for me the natural image of choice. I was very interested in the occult, I liked heavy metal, I did enjoy the darker side of things and was fascinated with Goth images and dark tales. I was very interested in religion and philosophy and was interested in politics. That I also hated the church institution made it all given. It just had to be Satanism. I did not believe in Christ at that time, but I don’t think I was an atheist. Agnostic might be a description of the state I was in regarding any belief or faith. No, I just hated how the state church and other religious groups violated the individual rights to freedom. The church and the Christians in Norway still have some influence on how our society is built. They are responsible for many cruelties up to the eighties – and are still fighting for rules that are, in my opinion, inhumane and full of disrespect for the individual human being.

There are three ways to attack the church – you can challenge them on ethics and moral issues, you can challenge their theology, or you can make them really angry, engaged and upset by addressing their major fear or common mantra on what they fight – Satan. We did the latter. Actually we did them all, but with Mayhem we just made the ultimate effort to appear evil and satanic. And it worked. It worked for me because I was able to contribute to a musical genre I really liked. And our protest on the evil church (hehe yes, evil) was a huge success. We got the reaction we wanted, they hated us.

But why do I say that I’m on Lucifer's side if the bible is the truth? Which I do not believe it is. Well, it doesn’t take too much effort  to read the bible. It is big, but hell, they (the Christians and the church) want us to accept that their religion is to be followed whether you believe it or not, one might as well try to find out what they believe in. So I did. And what a story (or should I say stories). The first thing I learned by really reading the bible with interest, was that the bible was something completely different from what the church and the teachers had told me. I later understood that theology is the reason for that – in Norway you can call yourself a Christian without even believing in the resurrection of Christ himself – go figure. I’ve now read the bible many times, and I must say – it is some cruel and evil bastard on top of that food chain.  What was Lucifer's sin? He opposed God. Never forgiven. What was Adam and Eves sin? They didn’t obey God. Never forgotten, but later forgiven. Ahh.. says the church, but you read the old testament, you shouldn’t do that. It is the new testament that is the foundation of Christianity. Well, ok. That makes the story a little better, but why do you keep on printing the biggest part of the bible – the old testament – if there isn’t any point in it? Isn’t that a huge waste of good wood? I just don’t believe it, and neither do they. If challenged, they want to keep the old stories, which brings it all back to sense again. But they don’t believe huge parts of it – or as they say, it’s not meant to be taken literately. Ok, so who decides what to choose? Given that question, they all start to become difficult again.

The old testament is full of evil and sadism. It presents a patriarchic philosophy and a cruel and psychopathic God.  It is also full of rules. Not only the ten commandments, if someone should believe that. And what rules! Anyone even wanting to try to follow them would fail. First they are very well adapted to a life in tents in the middle of a desert 4000 years ago, but not as well for a modern lifestyle and enlightenment. Second they often contradict each other, which makes it even tougher to succeed. To really bring on confusion, the Christians obey other laws from the old testament than the Muslims do. The pig thing is an excellent example. The Muslims follow the rule, the Christians don’t. But regardless of that and many other things, the bottom line is that we are to obey a church who wants us to adjust our society and private lives based on a story of God and his rules which by large is not to be taken seriously, or at least literately.  At least not if what is written talks about a cruel and merciless God. Interesting isn’t it. Interesting, and not very trustworthy. I for myself do not want to obey the old testaments God – even if he did exist. I oppose God from the old testament, and would gladly join Lucifer in his struggle to fight him. You could argue that Lucifer is not a very nice angel either, and I agree that the angel is portrayed as very bad news. The thing is that it is the God-side that describes him, the side that worship the psychopathic dictator, God.

There’s still the new testament. Is it helping God to look better? Yes, it does. The God of the new testament is much better than the one in the old. But the problem is that it is the same God. The church wants us to believe that there is a new ruling, but it’s not easy to argue like that when they still want to keep the old testament and different rules from it. And besides, the new testament is full of rules, new and old. Rules that they impose laws for us all to follow, believers or not. Rules that disrespect the individual  rights to live as one want. And if not that is enough, the church and Christians also have a big problem with which parts of the new testament we shall believe and which we are not to take literately. Here goes again. Are women allowed to speak in public? Is it ok to be gay? Is there a place like Hell, and will non-believers, good or bad end up there? Was Mary a virgin? Should we beat our children? Will there be a judgment day as the apostle John describes it? The list can be very long. But let’s not go there.  The point is, that there is many good reasons to object to this God the Christians wants us to believe in. If the testament is of good and love, how come a good and loving person who dies goes to hell to be tormented for a thousand years just because that good person decided not to believe in Jesus? No, this God has the same entities as he had in the old testament – he just added some loving and broadened the recruitment by telling the people of the world that from now on  also non-Jews can become one of his people. Sorry mate, I’m not going to live with that. This is bullshit. It is so full of contradictions and cruelty  that I am ready to fight it. But then again I don’t have to – I don’t believe any of it to be true.

So what did I fight? I fought against the church. They struggle to impose and maintain laws that restrict our freedom. I’m not talking about not killing or things down that line. I’m talking about the choice of sexual partner, the choice of opinion and expression, the choice of doing my shopping on a Sunday and to have a drink if I want to. In Norway we still have laws that are directly connected to the church’ dogma. I’m lucky to be a hetero sexual, because by living like one I have the opportunity to gain all citizen rights. The homosexuals in Norway doesn’t have the same rights. Is that because a homosexual is a bad person? Or is it because he or she is a threat to our society? Is it because homosexuals are lesser beings? No, not according to the state. It is only because the church won’t allow the society to accept homosexuality as a ok choice of living. And why does the church mean that? Well, in the old testament you can read that it is a sin, and it is repeated in the new testament by Paul. To the church it doesn’t matter whether or not the homosexual believes in their God or not, they just don’t want him to live as he wants because they, and their God,  don’t like it.  Actually we don’t have to go to many years back to see how christian politicians and the church fought hard to keep homosexuality a crime here in Norway.

If we look at the history of the church and their influence on our society and laws, it is a very sad read. The church will of course say that that was not the right church, burning witches or supporting tyrants, setting fire to Rome (it has been put forward by historians that Nero might have been right on that issue)   or setting off the horrible crusades. The church was against common democracy because kings ruled by the authority of God, they fought against women’s right to vote with their bible as argument, they supported slavery, they supported imperialism. They still fight against women rights and they do not want us to live with free choice. Now what kind of institution is this? Someone we should fight for, or against? I say against, and that makes me a bad person in a lot of christian views. Do I feel bad? Not at all, on the contrary I feel that I fight on the good side here. I fight for every mans right to live his life as he may choose himself. I fight against anyone, including the church, that wants to limit this freedom. I do agree that we need some order in a society, and that laws and police are the way to ensure that they are understood and followed. But the laws should be based on universal humanitarian reasoning, not on some made up religion in which some or most people believe in.

I am a secularist, I believe that it is crucial for a democracy to separate religion and the state.  Does that make me an atheist? Not at all. It should be possible for a deeply religious person to respect that his fellow citizen has a different belief, and thereby accept that the rules that follow his religion doesn’t necessary have any meaning for the other. If the church would accept this, I would rest my case and wish them good luck with their struggle to please their God. To be a secularist does not mean that you are against religious beliefs or faith. It just mean that you respect that other people have taken a different choice, and that you want to build a society that has room for you both. I know Christians who are secularist, and they don’t seem to have difficulties with their God because of it.

As a matter of fact I’m not an atheist, because I do believe that there might be something bigger than what I can see or understand. You might call me agnostic, but I don’t call myself anything. I do have moral and ethics, but they are not based on any religion. I do follow the principles of Thelema, but that is to me a philosophy and a way of understanding the basics of our living. I do believe in science, and are a strong defender of the evolution theory in opposition to the so-called theory of intelligent design. But I’m not convinced, as many atheists are, that it is proven that there is no higher purpose or meaning to our existence.

Do I think science is bluffing? No, I don’t. I believe everything they have been able to explain so far. But they still struggle to explain everything. The day they do, I’ll accept it. But at this moment they seem to argue a bit, as they always are.  I’ve heard that they are talking about a theory of everything, evolved from some quantum physics of some kind. But that part of science is completely impossible for my level of insight to understand, so I remain uncertain.

Religious people often grasp these kinds of statements and say that by this position I have accepted that the theory of intelligent design is an alternative to the evolution theory. But it is not, it’s not even a theory it is a hypothesis based on religious faith. The mere fact that we would not have existed if the tiniest adjustment where done just microseconds after the big bang, does not mean that there has to be a designer. How stupid of an argument is that?  Take how our lives depend on all kinds of coincident. What if my ancestor 2000 years ago took a different decision which changed who he married – I guess I wouldn’t have been sitting here today. Does that mean that since he did as he did and I am here, there is a God that designed it? No, you have to come up with some better arguments. The fact that it is a fantastic almost unbelievable coincident that made it possible for the human race and life to exist, does not mean that there’s a God. It might strengthen a religious person’s faith, but it is hardly any scientific proof.

So, am I a Satanist? No I am not. I do not believe Satan exist. Am I evil? No I am not. I do believe in good, and try to act as good as I can. Am I against religious people? No I am not, on the contrary I do believe in the freedom of thought and expression, and that includes faith and religion. Am against religion or organized religious societies? No, I’m not – let them worship their God as they want.  Am I against religious laws and power? Yes I am, because that often includes putting up restrictions on other people’s lives based on dogmas rather than humanitarian reasons and thereby restrict my freedoms.

Countess Bathory

Countess Elisabeth Bathory - there you have a psycho. Made famous for her insanity built up around the nevrotic pursue of eternal beauty. In these modern times we might understand her better, and maybe if she had been born into such wealth and power as she was in middle aged eastern Europe, things would've ended up completly different. But sadly for her and her victims, that was not the case. She killed a considerable number of virgins so she could bath in their blood - it was supposed to have a healing effect on her skin. Crazy enough to be house arrested even in the middle ages.

But hell, that was centuries ago. Let's look at the bright side of this tradegy. A swedish kid, with a scillfull father in music, was somehow inspired by her and named his Bathoryband after her. And that is worth remembering, and give thanks to. The first album is one of the best LPs I have in the genre. And I dare say, it was very important for the first black metal bands in Norway.  He probably came over the name through Venoms song on the subject, and I know many critics say that they can see the musical influence on the early work of this kid. But I say they miss the point. Yeah, Venom inspired us all - I will come back to that in my recommended album list - but Bathory took the music down deep, build it up with a compact and evil expression that inspired others even more.

So - the first album "Bathory" (with a black and white cover if you're a collector) is worth having in your collection. When I first listened to it I loved it so much I hardly listened to anything else for weeks. It was something so compact and indeed new, with the whole brand package of evil that it was never to be forgotten. Musically you can of course argue a lot around it - but it was the right product at the right time for a lot of us.

Later works did not have the same inpact on me, even though I also rank "the return" high. But i would've listened to this album before I went any further with the bands productions.

Could fascism happen again?

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