A little over a year ago I went to the Norwegian city of Trondheim to attend a mostly indie rock, non–heavy metal festival so I could meet Snorre Ruch, a.k.a. Blackthorn, a black-metal musician likely best known for his connection to the murder of another black metaller, Øystein Aarseth, a.k.a. Euronymous, on August 10, 1993. While Ruch didn’t actively participate in the murder, he knew the general idea when he helped the killer, Kristian “Varg” Vikernes, drive east from Bergen to Aarseth’s apartment in Oslo.

As the story goes, Aarseth answered the door in his underwear, Vikernes confronted him, chased him through the hall and down a flight of stairs, and ultimately stabbed him a total of twenty-three times with a dull knife. The final deathblow was a wound through Aarseth’s forehead. When Vikernes removed the blade, Aarseth fell down another flight of stairs, in Varg’s words, “like a sack of potatoes.” Also according to Vikernes, Ruch was shocked when he came upon the carnage. As Ruch put it in an interview in the bookLords of Chaos: “When I stood outside Øystein’s door I heard noise inside and Øystein came out, with [Vikernes] on his heels, covered in blood, rushing down the stairway… I realized that this was going to hell. We had intended this to happen in the apartment, and fast—no big, dramatic thing with a hundred knife-stabs or something. So I ran down the stairs, past them, and into the square outside the building.” Ruch drove the car from the immediate scene, but was so rattled by what had taken place that he circled listlessly around Oslo for twenty-some minutes. Vikernes took the wheel after removing his bloodstained clothes, which he later dumped into a lake. Ruch was twenty-one at the time. The murdered Aarseth was twenty-five. Vikernes, twenty.

From Brandon Stosuy’s essay A Blaze in the North American Sky. (Music Issue 2008).

American black metal bands specialize in a uniquely brutal, homegrown sound, but they don’t actually kill people. So why should they be taken seriously? Find out here