I was sitting in a pizzeria in Oslo when they caught Saddam Hussein. The TV crackled fiercely into life as one of the pizza chefs turned the volume up and one of the Americans, with a slight tremor in his voice as the emotion threatened to overwhelm him, spoke into the microphone, ‘Lady’s and gentlemen; we got him.’
And thank god for that, I thought. And let’s us hear no more about the ghastly subject.
The satanic black metal band member who sat opposite me seemed ambivalent. ‘Who gives shit?’ was all he said as he munched on his calzone.
I had been up in Oslo for three days, standing in basements, watching a savage pantomime of blood, horrifying make-up, cod pieces, bullet belts, and badly played rock songs which constituted the Norwegian black metal scene. The blood was real and so was the fear.
I had watched a band drape themselves in fresh pig carcasses and play a set draped in the bleeding skins, spraying blood on us all as we watched; I was horrified to see specks of dried blood on my jacket the following morning. It didn’t end there of course; they had burned down the local ancient churches and killing each other too. That was more or less during the first Iraq conflict under Bush senior. It is all infamous legend in the metal underground theses days but in those early years, the rumors made all that heard them terrified. There had even been one band some years back who had made a necklace out of their singers skull after he had shot himself. There was little doubt that whatever had been going on out here, the violence had been real.
Watching my black metal contact across the pizzeria, the fear was beginning to wear off. He was softly spoken to the point where, if I shut my eyes, I felt like I was having a conversation with Michael Jackson – he was still alive and well at that point and dangling babies off balconies. And to be fair, the great years of black metal were well past at that point having peaked in the mid nineties. I was witnessing the end and the last of the true believers who were ending their days with a bit of a bang. The satanist and his like were drifting into obscurity, doomed to be just another ridiculous footnote in the annals of shock rock history.
The year was 2003 and the Iraq war was raging in a controlled kind of way and frankly, I had to agree with the sentiment of the satanist. Who really gave a shit? So, they captured Saddam? The fact made little difference to the lives of either myself or my satanist dinner companion. Although the satanist definitely believed that he too was fighting a war and also one, in its own way, of terror.
‘I am,’ he held the last part of the sentence for effect, ‘at war with the doctrine of Christianity and,’ there was another dramatic pause, ‘the depravity of homosexuals.’
He sipped his coke.
‘Homosexuals?’ I asked him.
‘Yes. The faggots.’
And he was dead serious too. The black metal scene in Norway was utterly terrified of homosexuals; absolutely scared shitless. They had a new gay nemesis too in the shape of fellow Norwegians,Turbonegro, who had just released Scandinavian Leather, a fine salute to the full glory of buggery and gay cock sucking in one blistering record which was storming underground record shops. The black metal dudes were unimpressed and deeply afraid. Turbonegro resembled a hyper homoerotic rock version of the Village People and they were gaining fans fast. They were to be, in many respects, the final nail in the black metal coffin.
‘How do you actually feel about Turbonegro?’ I asked the satanist. He muttered into his pizza.
‘God damn poofs!’ he finally spat rather squeakily. ‘I hate that band!’
Years later, the singer of Turbonegro is reportedly an occasional judge on the Norwegian X Factor and the satanists have most definitely lost the war on gay stuff.
I asked the members of Honningbarna, a new breed of Norwegian punk rockers, a few nights ago if the X factor rumor was true. They told me it wasn’t.
Saddam too went the way of many a dictator, strung up and hanged, the footage captured on a mobile phone. His career as ended on April 9th after which he spent the remainder of his days hiding a hole till the Americans finally dug him out.
When I asked Honningbarna, they denied any knowledge of the infamous Black Metal bands like Burzum. Who wants to be sprayed with pigs blood on a Saturday night anyway?