The band was billed as Wolf's Lair Abyss on a few secret gigs done on the Wolf's Lair Abyss-tour.
Mayhem was founded in 1984 by guitarist/vocalist Øystein Aarseth (aka Euronymous), bass guitarist Jørn Stubberud (aka Necrobutcher), and drummer Kjetil Manheim (aka Manheim). The band name is taken from the Venom song, "Mayhem with Mercy."
By mid-1988 both Manheim and Maniac had left the band, their positions were filled by vocalist Dead, and drummer Hellhammer.
Dead committed suicide in 1991 by shooting himself in the mouth with a shotgun after cutting his wrists with a knife. The shells are rumoured to have been given to him by Varg Vikernes (Count Grishnack), who knew that Dead used to practice with a shotgun in the forest close to the hut where the members of Mayhem lived. His body, along with a suicide note saying "Excuse all the blood", was discovered in his room. Euronymous took some pictures (one of them appearing as the cover of the infamous "Dawn of the Black Hearts" bootleg album) of the suicide scene. A legend was born, and it was said that Euronymous had cooked and eaten pieces of Dead's brain. It was also said that fragments of Dead's skull had been collected and made into necklaces that both Euronymous and Hellhammer wore as a tribute to Dead. Hellhammer was even rumoured to play the drums with Dead's bones live. Of course it is doubtful that the truth was as macabre as people would like to believe.
With the media and police attention following Dead's suicide, Necrobutcher (Jørn Stubberud) decided to leave the band. Dead was replaced by Occultus (Stian Johansen), ex-singer of Thyabhorrent and partner of Euronymous in the "Helvete" shop. He sang and played bass in Mayhem for a few months, but soon left. With the band's need for musicians, Varg Vikernes (Burzum) joined as bassist and even participated in De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas album.
On August 10th, 1993, Varg Vikernes murdered Euronymous in his apartment with Blackthorn acting as an accomplice. Their relationship before the murder was tense, as their friendship and musical relationship started going downhill. Vikernes, who had started to play bass in Mayhem, killed him due to a number of alleged reasons: over a girl, jealousy of Euronymous's position in the Inner Circle, Euronymous owing him money, Euronymous not releasing Burzum's albums on time. Euronymous was found in his underwear, with stab wounds inflicted with a knife. Varg was rumoured to try and outdo the murder Faust of Emperor committed. At his trial, Vikernes came into court with his long hair made into pigtails, and denying his involvement in Euronymous's death. He giggled and laughed throughout the trial. He was convicted of the murder and was sentenced to 21 years in prison (the maximum possible sentence in Norway). When police arrested Vikernes, he was found with over 150 kilograms of stolen dynamite and alleged plans to destroy Nidarosdomen, a large Christian church in Trondheim, on a religious holiday. Although, Varg Vikernes has a different story to the reasons for killing Euronymous (see www.burzum.org for articles Varg composed himself explaining the murder).
After the trial, Euronymous's parents asked Hellhammer to remove the bass lines that Varg had recorded. He told them he would record new bass lines himself, but the truth is that he didn't know how to play the instrument, so the album remained the same, featuring Varg on it. Other rumours about Occultus playing the new bass lines are also false, he never played a note with the band during his time in Mayhem, according to Hellhammer.
Their gigs featured heavy atmospheric effects such as severed pig heads impaled on wooden spikes. Dead's clothes were buried days/weeks before the show, and were exhumed decayed, soiled, and full of insects. Pieces of rotting meat were thrown into the audience and given to people to devour or rip on the spot. Dead ravens were placed in a bag so Dead could continually smell decay and death. Members were also noted to cut themselves onstage.
Further information can be found in the book "Lords Of Chaos" and the documentary "Once Upon A Time In Norway".
Interesting fact: Euronymous is responsible for getting many nowadays famous bands (Darkthrone, Immortal, Emperor) into black metal and/or influenced them to change their musical style from death metal to black metal. He's considered to be responsible for sparking the whole Norwegian black metal movement and making it what it is today.
Despite once playing in the strongly anti-Christian band Mayhem, early vocalist Kittil Kittilsen (ex-Kvikksølvguttene, Vomit) left the music scene around 2000 and became a fundamentalist Christian and warns people of the dangers of playing in a rock/pop band regardless of what the lyrics/ideology is about.
MAYHEM items we have:
KVLT RECORD STORE
OPEN: Mon-Fri 11-19, Sat 11-16.
00120 Helsinki, FINLAND.