Varg Vikernes is a Norwegian black metal rock artist, writer and producer. He has gained the reputation of being one of the most notorious black metal stars due to his raciest views and criminal record. He has a strong inclination towards Paganism and National Socialism, though he claims to believe in democracy. He started playing the guitar at a young age and came into contact with members of a Bergen Death Metal band and his association with the group inspired him to start his own musical project called ‘Burzum’. He has released a number of albums with strong lyrics and deep meanings. However, his religious and social outlook got him involved in the burning down of churches and the murder of one of the members of his band for which he was sentenced to a 21 year term in prison. He continued making albums while in prison and after his release. He also took to writing and wrote a book while in prison. He also started a website and a blog to air his views. He married a French girl with similar beliefs and moved to France after completing his sentence. There too he was once arrested for suspicion of terrorism and again sentenced for six months due to a racial crime.
Childhood & Early Life
Varg Vikernes was born Kristian Vikernes on 11 February 1973 in Bergen, Norway. His mother, Helene Bore, worked for an oil company and his father was an electronics engineer. He has an elder brother who is a civil engineer.
When he was six years old, his family moved to Iraq as his father took up a project with Saddam Hussein. They lived in Baghdad and he attended Iraqi elementary school for one year. During this period he had his first experience of racial discrimination. Due to the fact that he was white skinned, he was not punished, while others were.
His parents were very race conscious and did not want him to be associated with dark skinned people. He had a positive relationship with his mother but very little contact with his father. His parents divorced by the time he was 11-years-old.
Vikernes got involved with the extreme right as a National Socialist skinhead during his adolescence and admired the Germans while he hated the British and the Americans.
He loved classical music and was influenced by heavy metal at the age of 12. He soon became a fan of ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘Kreator’ and ‘Celtic Frost’ bands. He also listened to a lot of ‘Venom’s Black Metal’.
He was also fascinated by the fictional realm of ‘Middle Earth’ created by JRR Tolkein. His stage name ‘Grishnackh’ is taken from the series ‘The Two Towers’ and his band’s name ‘Burzum’, meaning darkness, was taken from ‘Black Speech’.
He started playing the guitar at the age of 14 and by the time he was 17, he came into contact with members of the Bergen Death Metal band called ‘Old Funeral’. He played with them from 1990 to 1991 till he began his solo musical project called ‘Burzum’.
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Vikernes soon got involved with the early Norwegian black metal scene and recorded four ‘Burzum’ albums by 1993. During this period he did not possess the required musical equipment and had to do with an old guitar and some borrowed instruments.
A member of the black metal band ‘Mayhem’ committed suicide and Vikernes joined the group to fill up the void. During this period he also got involved in arson and burning down of heritage churches such as the Fantoft Stave Church, dating back to the 12th century. His group claimed to be devil worshipers and aimed at spreading fear. Although the jury found him not guilty, the judge did not close the case.
In 1993, rivalry broke out between Vikernes and Euronymous over ‘Burzum’ records and Vikernes stabbed the latter to death, which he claims was in self defence. Vikernes was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment for murder and arson in May 1994. The same year Mayhem’s album ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ was released with Euronymous on the electric guitar and Vikernes playing the bass.
Vikernes served his sentence in the prison in Bergen. In late 1994, he wrote a Norwegian language book called ‘Speech of the Wolf’, in which he defends himself against the media. The book was initially available on the internet and later got published in paperback in 1997.
During his prison sentence, he recorded two albums consisting of ‘ambient’ and ‘neofolk’ music. Since he did not have access to electric guitars and bass, he composed the music on a synthesizer.
By 2000, he gave up making music albums and took up writing seriously. He wrote five books between 1998 and 2004 that were in Norwegian language, later translated in to English. He also took to writing articles on ‘Burzum.org’ which became his official website.
During his prison term, he claimed to receive death threats from other inmates due to his ideology. He was on the run from short leave and was arrested from a car containing weapons, a gas mask and camouflage clothing.
After serving 15 years in prison he was granted parole and released from prison on probation. He continued with ‘Burzum’ after his release from prison and recorded three black metal albums called ‘Belus’ in 2010, ‘Fallen’ in 2011 and ‘Umskiptar’ in 2012. He also released a compilation of re-recorded songs titled ‘From the Depths of Darkness’ in 2013.
In April 2013, he posted a song titled ‘Back to the Shadows’ on his You Tube channel which was to be the last metal track released by ‘Burzum’.
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He continued to write on the ‘Burzum’ website and his personal blog, ‘Thulean Perspective’. The website ‘Ancestral Cult’ was created by him and his wife and they also released a film called ‘ForeBears’, based on ancient German pagan rituals.
In 2015, he released his own tabletop role-playing game called ‘MYFAROG’ based on European values, geography, history, mythology, traditions and morals.
Vikernes made his debut with Burzum in January 1992 and thereafter produced black metal including ‘Aske’ (1993), ‘Filosofem’ (1996), ‘Belus’ (2010), ‘Fallen’ (2011) and ‘The Ways of Yore’ (2014).
He also wrote the lyrics for ‘Darkthrone – Transilvanian Hunger’ in 1994 and performed with the bass guitar for ‘Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ the same year.
Varg Vikernes has not won any award but is known for his hard hitting lyrics that drive home a message.
Personal Life & Legacy
Vikernes has a daughter, who was born in 1992. He later married a French national named Marie Cachet, with whom he had a son in 2007.
After his release from prison he moved with his family to Limousin in France where he is said to have six children and plans for more.
He is known to be one of the most notorious metal musicians due to his religious and political views coupled with criminal activity. He had a strong inclination towards Paganism and National Socialism. He differentiated himself from Nazis by claiming that he was not socialistic, nor was he materialistic and he believed in democracy.
He embraced ‘Nordicism’ and ‘Eugenics’ and acknowledges being racist in a way by believing in differences between people from various regions. However, he claims not to hate any race and maintained that hate crimes were irrational.
Vikernes and his wife were arrested in France in July 2013 on suspicion of planning acts of terrorism after his wife bought four rifles. They were released as the police failed to prove any charges and his wife has an arms permit which allowed her to purchase firearms.
In July 2014, he was convicted of inciting racial hatred and sentenced to six months probation with a fine of 8,000 Euros.