Varg Vikernes (Mayhem, Burzum) recently updated his blog with a post on the early black metal scene.
"Once upon a time I was a fan of classical music who became an Iron Maiden fan, a thrash metal fan, a death metal fan and musician and eventually a black metal musician. What drove me down that path was the melancholic atmosphere, aggression and energy of the music. I still like classical music and Iron Maiden too, in particlar their «Somewhere in Time» album, but thrash and death metal lost it’s charm the moment I found something better – in 1991.
"This something better was called «black metal» by Euronymous, a name he had from a Venom album, and it was something brand new at the time; it was not originally a music style, but a revolt against the commercial nature of and the lack of originality in death metal. The so-called black metal bands were supposed to all be original; they were all supposed to bring something unique and special to the scene. If they didn’t they were not «true»; i. e. not worthy of the black metal label.
"Darkthrone had their Satanic image; Burzum had the dark fantasy image. Mayhem had nothing to boast of at the time, they had yet to release their first proper album («Deathcrush» was absolute shit) but they had Euronymous, so they too were naturally considered to be «true». Immortal were not «true», and therefore called their music «holocaust metal» instead, out of fear of Euronymous and his reaction if they started to use the black metal label.
"Darkthrone and Burzum – the only bands with an album out in early 1992 – were too successful for this to last though. As could be expected when some bands have success other bands too wanted to play this at the time new style of music – and yes, they saw this as a music style. So it became a music style, and we saw a horde of copy-cat bands coming; Emperor, Enslaved, Gorgoroth and others too began to play music very similar to the music of Darkthrone and Burzum. At first Euronymous tried to stop this, and even visited and threatened a few bands to make them stop, but naturally this was hopeless.
"The scene was in turmoil, and with the success of Burzum – signed to Euronymous’ label – Euronymous all of a sudden saw the opportunity to turn his poorly run business into something profitable, and he started to sign the copy-cat bands. As he saw it he secured allies in his «war» against the trendy death metal bands.
"Personally I didn't like it when other bands ripped off my music style, but rather than go around and be angry over this I simply did soemthing new – again. I recorded the «Filosofem» album in early 1993 and made what was supposed to be an «anti-black metal album». I wanted to show the copy-cats that you don’t all have to sound the same; you can do your own thing. Like I did.
"«Naturally» this failed miserably, and all of a sudden the bands started to make music sounding just like the music on «Filosofem», and I gave up….
"Ah, but naturally I was a fool; bands don’t actually rip off the music of others unless they copy it; the bands who followed us were not copy-cat bands. They were just creative kids who were inspired by the music of others and who changed and even improved the music they were inspired by. Rather than feel insulted I should be proud of having inspired others to make music. Most of it very good music, I am sure. I don’t really know though; I have been to foolish to ever try to listen to any of it. My mind was closed. My heart was closed.
"One of the reasons for that was also that with time I saw that Burzum was not only inspiring others to make good music, it was also used or rather mis-used by the same forces who turned death metal into nihilistic shit. Black metal as a movement turned into nihilistic shit as well; all the wrong things were promoted – heavily.
"Being a European at heart I naturally didn’t want any part of that, so I repeatedly expressed my contempt for it all. The idea that my creative efforts and name would be used to promote a nihilistic movement was very offensive to me. And naturally I was right to feel that way.
"Some times I do good things, and occasionally a string of words that makes sense might come from my lips, but most of the time I am of course the same old fool who was insulted when others liked my music back in 1992, so when I have tried to express my contempt for the twisting and perverting of black metal over the years I have failed to make it clear that I don’t actually think badly of individuals who like the so-called black metal music. Why would I? We are all lost souls in a dying world, so to speak, stripped of all sprititual life and energy by the societies we live in, and left to find new spiritual life and energy on our own. We stumble, we fall and we get up again, as we progress, and black metal, although empty and hollow like most other things in this world, is actually a good gateway to the Divine Light. If nothing else black metal has been a way to find true meaning, a positive direction and new life for many.
"As I see it those enthralled by the aggression, melancholy and/or harmonic atmosphere of black metal are on the way to become better, and are thus already better than the rest, and I don’t want you to feel that I think badly of you when I speak badly of black metal as it is today. I don’t like the black metal (or any metal) life style, but that doesn’t mean I have anything against those caught in this lifestyle.
"I no longer play metal music, so naturally I don’t say this for commercial reasons. I just think that we get enough shit from the world we live in as it is. There is no reason to add to that load."