Mayhem is a very important band not only because of its music but also because it is a band that marked a period in the Metal world and the official beginning of True Norwegian Black Metal under the influence of bands like Venom and Bathory.

To understand Mayhem

Mayhem is a Black Metal band founded in 1984 in Oslo, Norway. The name Mayhem came from the song “Mayhem With Mercy”, found on the album “Welcome to Hell” (1981) by the British band Venom.
The band gained great repercussions worldwide after controversial events in their career, such as their violent performances at shows, the suicide of lead singer Dead and the murder of guitarist Euronymous by former member Varg Vikernes of Burzum.

Members from 1984 to 1991

The band was formed in 1984 by Necrobutcher with Euronymous and Manheim.
After two years of rehearsals, the trio released its first demo, “Pure Fucking Armageddon” in 1986. Shortly after its release, the group became a four-piece when Eirik “Messiah” Norheim took over vocals from Euronymous. Within a year, the new vocalist had been replaced by Sven Erik “Maniac” Kristiansen, who performed on the group’s first EP, “Deathcrush”.
Both Maniac and Manheim left shortly after the EP’s release and were briefly replaced by Vomit members Kittil Kittilsen and Torben Grue, respectively.

During early 1988, Euronymous and Necrobutcher rebuilt Mayhem with the addition of new vocalist Per “Dead” Ohlin and drummer Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg.

Now, to understand the dynamics between bandmates and also the lyrics made by Dead during this period of time you should read a bit about Per’s life and suicide here by clicking on his name; I left the link to the page that talks about his death and interactions about band mates. It was shocking that there were photos taken and spread, and the exchanges between bandmates were, to say the least, toxic.
Some people wonder if Per really committed suicide or was murdered by Euronymous. These facts allow you to understand their lyrics and music, their mind frame when these songs were created, and how and when Black Metal was born in Norway and Sweden.

Here is a link to a website that raises this subject,Ohlin’s%20death%20really%20a%20suicide%3F

Corpse paint, who started?

“Brazilian band Sarcófago also pioneered on the look as the first band with “true” corpse paint. However, Necrobutcher insists that his band Mayhem was the first to use corpse paint and credited the band’s singer Per “Dead” Ohlin with creating this look and the term.”

Both are correct, in my opinion, with one difference that Per wanted to look dead, and his painting intended to mimic a corpse, while Sarcofago’s painting was of a more “tribal” inclination as in a cult and used as a form of expression and intimidation.

The photo here is of Sarcofago with the release of INRI in 1987, and Dead started on Mayhem in 1988.
There was no internet and few magazines, so these guys didn’t “copy each other”, but of course, all these kids had seen Kiss’s facial painting and recreated their own version but in a darker way, in a more sinister form of expression.

After 1991

The band’s new incarnation remained stable for several years, recording several live releases, but did not issue a full-length studio album. On 8 April 1991, Dead committed suicide at a house shared with Euronymous and Hellhammer. Due to his death and the guitarist’s subsequent actions (including taking photos of his body, one of which was later used as the cover for a bootleg release), Necrobutcher left Mayhem.

The band returned in late 1991 with Attila Csihar on vocals and Varg “Count Grishnackh” Vikernes on bass. This lineup recorded Mayhem’s long-awaited full-length debut De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which featured material written by Dead and Necrobutcher. However, before it could be released, Vikernes murdered Euronymous on August 10, 1993, stabbing the guitarist 23 times after growing tensions and business disputes. The group consequently disbanded, with “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” receiving a release in 1994.

With Dead’s suicide and Necrobutcher’s departure, Mayhem was left with just two members. Vocalist and bassist Occultus joined the group, playing a few shows as a trio for a period.
However, his stay in the band lasted a short time; he left after receiving a death threat from Euronymous.
In July 1993, the band released the live album “Live in Leipzig” in honour of Dead, which ended up becoming one of the main albums of the Black Metal scene.

Euronymous called Varg Vikernes (Burzum) for bass, Snorre “Blackthorn” Ruch (Thorns) for second guitar, Hungarian Attila Csihar (Tormentor) for vocals, and thus began recording De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.[citation needed] ] Due to bad exposure in the media and being watched by the police, Euronymous ended up closing his record store Helvete. Most of the album was recorded during the first half 1993 at Grieg Hall in Bergen. To coincide with the release of the album, Euronymous and Vikernes planned to blow up the Nidaros Cathedral, which appears on the CD cover, but the plan ended up not coming to fruition.

In the middle of the year, tension and disagreement arose between Varg and Euronymous, involving contractual and inner circle issues, which resulted in Euronymous being murdered by Varg on August 10, 1993.
On the day in question, Varg and Snorre Ruch travelled 518 km from Bergen to Euronymous’ apartment in Oslo. After a confrontation between the two, Varg stabbed Euronymous and killed him.

His body was found outside the apartment with twenty-three stab wounds.
Vikernes alleges that Euronymous intended to capture and torture him to death and record it on videotape, using a meeting over a recording contract as a pretext. On the night of the murder, Vikernes says he handed the contract over to Euronymous and “told him to fuck off”, but that Euronymous attacked him first. Varg further says that most of the injuries were caused by broken glass shards that fell during the murder confrontation.
Vikernes was arrested within days, and within months, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison for both the murder and the church fires; he was released in 2009. Ruch, who was waiting for Vikernes on the ground floor of the building and had no involvement with the crime, ended up being convicted of complicity in the murder and spent eight years in prison.
With Attila Csihar’s return to Hungary to finish his engineering course, only Hellhammer remained as an official member, causing the end of the band.

In May 1994, “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” was released and formally dedicated to Euronymous. Its release was delayed due to complaints from Euronymous’ parents, who objected to the presence of bass lines recorded by Varg Vikernes. According to Varg Vikernes, Hellhammer assured Euronymous’ parents that he would re-record the bass guitars himself. Apparently, Hellhammer didn’t do this, so the album contains Varg Vikernes’ original bass guitars.

In 1995, Hellhammer decided to reform the band with the help of guitarist Blasphemer and two former Mayhem members, Maniac and Necrobutcher. The first release with this lineup was a 1997 EP, “Wolf’s Lair Abyss”, which was followed by a series of shows in Europe. One of these shows took place in Milan, Italy, with the participation of Attila Csihar, which was recorded for the live album “Mediolanum Capta Est”.

In this new phase, the “preservationist statements” made by Hellhammer (who spoke out against the mixing of races and foreigners in Norway) and the use of Nazi images such as the swastika in the rehearsal room, the Totenkopf emblem and band materials with the Nasjonal Samling symbol, caused controversy and accusations of neo-Nazism.

Blasphemer with Mayhem (Jalometalli 2008)
In 2000, the band released their second studio album, “Grand Declaration of War”. Heavily influenced by progressive Metal and Avant-garde Metal, the album is conceptual, addressing war and post-apocalyptic destruction themes.
Maniac abandoned the torn vocals of Black Metal for a more spoken and dramatic vocal. Reactions to the album were mixed, with some criticizing it for its avant-garde and electronic elements, which they saw as pretentious, and for Maniac’s vocals, which they considered inferior to those of the Dead and Attila Csihar. Others saw it as an attempt to recreate and redefine Black Metal, with BNR Metal critic Brian Russ going so far as to call it the first truly cohesive thing the band had ever done and a culmination of their career.

In May 2003, Mayhem again appeared in newspaper headlines when a fan, Per Kristian Hagen, was taken to hospital with a fractured skull after being hit by a sheep’s head that had been thrown into the audience. The charges were dropped, but the band considered the event to be entirely accidental.

In 2004, the band released “Chimera”. The album shows a return to a more brutal style mixed with a progressive sound but with considerably better production than previous releases. Also in 2004, Maniac was expelled, according to Necrobutcher, because of alcoholism. Necrobutcher further stated that because of this, a violent fight occurred between the singer and Blasphemer. During the fight, the guitarist kicked Maniac down a ladder and hit his head against a wall. In his place, Attila Csihar was called again.

Plans for a tour were announced on the band’s website following Blasphemer’s departure before any word on new members. In October 2008, it was announced that Morpheus (Dimension F3H/Limbonic Art) had joined forces with the band for the South American tour.

The band toured between 2008 and 2009 with this lineup before announcing summer dates with French musician Silmaeth as second guitarist. Morfeus and Silmaeth are considered guest musicians and were not included in the band’s formation.

In February 2011, Silmaeth left the band and his place was taken by Teloch, who previously played with Gorgoroth and Ov Hell. In 2012, Morpheus left, and Charles Hedger joined on second guitar.

The band spent 2013 composing songs for their next album. The album was mixed at the end of the year, and they expected to release it at the beginning of 2014. After some delays, the album titled “Esoteric Warfare” was released on June 6, 2014, being the band’s first recording after the departure of Blasphemer and featuring Teloch on guitar.
In 2019, the film Lords of Chaos debuts, based on the book of the same name released in 1997, a film that had a lot of repercussions at the time it was released, mainly because Varg hated it. The film tells the events and tragedies that marked the beginning of the band.

You can watch the movie “Lord of Chaos” about the story of the band; however, after my research, I think the characters in the movie weren’t very accurate. For example, Euronymous has a darker personality than pictured in the movie.


Mayhem was Inspired by groups such as Venom, Slayer, Bathory and Celtic Frost,


Necrobutcher – bass (1984-1991, 1995-present)
Hellhammer – drums(1988-1993, 1995-present)
Attila Csihar – vocals (1992-1993, 2004-present)
Teloch – guitar (2011-present)
Ghul – guitar

Studio Albums

1987 — Deathcrush (EP)
1994 — De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
1997 — Wolf’s Lair Abyss (EP)
2000 — Grand Declaration of War
2004 — Chimera
2007 — Ordo Ad Chao
2014 — Esoteric Warfare
2019 — Daemon