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Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  5,045 Ratings  ·  256 Reviews
“* * * * * *! The most incredible story in the history of music … a heavyweight book.”—Kerrang!

“An unusual combination of true crime journalism, rock and roll reporting and underground obsessiveness, Lords of Chaos turns into one of the more fascinating reads in a long time.”—Denver Post

A narrative feature film based on this award-winning book has just gone into production
Paperback, 391 pages
Published November 1st 2003 by Feral House (first published 1998)
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Best Non Fiction About Music
36th out of 914 books — 853 voters
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Community Reviews

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Feb 25, 2013 Mariel rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Thor was a ginger so let's start a fire
Recommended to Mariel by: this was going to be my 666 review last year. I'm dorky enough to have "saved" this for that long. But I'm on a Norway kick so sue me
I'm telling you these people are Satanists. As I sit here, they are satanists. Look, look, the world is full of these kind of things - black masses, mutilations. Mutilations. The incubus, the succubus. [Editor's note: Yes, I am making a The 'Burbs quote medley here. Pretend I'm Sting trying to satisfy an audience who only came to hear The Police hits when he wants to push his new album.]
Ray Peterson: [chanting] I'm not going to listen to this, I'm not going to hear this now.
Art: Ray! Ray! You'r
Oct 07, 2013 Jason rated it it was ok
Ok, this book was a fascinating read, but one that I wouldn't recommend. On one hand, I am completely intrigued by fringe groups and underground subcultures (in a scholarly if not voyeuristic way). On the other hand, I really really hate these guys, and want them to stop being such horrible people. It was been a frustration of mine for years that a lot of music I like, and entire genres of music that appeal to me, are chock full of downright fucked up and dangerous people. That was the real ...more
Mar 20, 2008 Nora rated it liked it
Okay. I'm reading this because I'm a music fanatic and fascinated by fanaticism and counterculture, not because I'm a Satanist OR a fan of black/death metal. That said, this book is hilarious. If you read between the lines, you see a bunch of scrawny, insecure boys who stumbled upon a way to scare the crap out of their country, and beyond. Come on -- how can you really boast that you're an evil agent of Satan when you have to borrow money from your mom to put out your band's record? Seriously. ...more
Feb 26, 2008 Beth rated it liked it
This might as well be called "Everything you wanted to know about Satanism in music but were afraid to ask." It's ridiculously comprehensive, and I would recommend that you skim some sections (unless you're fascinated about the late 1990s state of death metal worldwide, detailed on a country by country basis). After a while, you stop noticing that the authors have chosen to capitalize many words that you wouldn't necessarily think deserve it - Rock Music, Rapper, Punk, etc.

An excellent resource
Mar 11, 2015 Leah rated it liked it

The world of metal – even black metal – isn’t foreign to me. It doesn’t conjure up frightening images of animal sacrifice or Satanic black mass, nor does it undermine my worldview and reality. By my own admission, then, I was bound to be disappointed by this book: I don’t see black metal as the nefarious, shadowy enemy of goodness and light, and therefore Lords of Chaos is (in my case) a book to be scrutinized with a jaundiced, even jaded, eye.

As a composition, it's unevenly constructed: the fi
East Bay J
I read Lords Of Chaos when it was first published. Thanks to my friend, Lydia, being employed at a bookstore on Sundays, I received a copy of this new, updated edition. Hot dog! Black metal, murder and mayhem.

The story of Norwegian black metal is, perhaps necessarily, wrapped up in Satanism and pagan beliefs. Not to mention, of course, teenage angst, alienation and rebellion. From the genesis of bands like Venom, Slayer and Celtic Frost, a sound developed. More than a sound, though, there was al
Apr 05, 2013 Abraham rated it really liked it
Un trabajo periodístico exhaustivo sobre el origen y el desarrollo del black metal. Una de las grandes ventajas del libro es que puede ser leído por cualquier persona, aún desconociendo el género, y seguramente podrá encontrarlo interesante.

He leído algunas críticas (particularmente de los músicos entrevistados o referenciados en el libro) sobre su tono sensacionalista. Personalmente, pienso que no hay tal. Es muy posible que actualmente muchos de ellos se arrepientan de algunas estupideces que
Justin Evans
May 03, 2012 Justin Evans rated it it was ok
Shelves: history-etc
I've been looking forward to reading this for years, and only just got round to it. I think it's fair to say I got more pleasure out of the looking forward to than I did from actually reading it. The prose and editing are as bad as you'd expect in a Feral House book; I feel quite comfortable saying my freshman comp students could have given this a quick once over and made it as least twice as readable. The core story of the book - the origins and rise of Scandinavian black metal and the crimes ...more
Jan 26, 2011 Graham rated it liked it
The start of this book was well-done. Moynihan thoroughly details the genesis of black metal, the evolution of its ideals, and the roots of those ideals in bygone history and spirituality. I found the latter point the most interesting, as things like black metal can so easily be written off by the masses. The connection of its ideals with pre-Christian pagan ideals and Jungian archetypes offered a deeper analysis than the majority of music-related books.

However, at some point "Lords Of Chaos" lo
Sep 13, 2009 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: bizarre
Here's the deal. I am a bleeding heart liberal, and completely politically opposed to everything these musicians, authors and even Feral House stand for. I can't help but find it interesting, though. I went through an anti-Christian phase when I was about 14, although for different reasons (feminist). I grew out of it, realizing there are PLENTY of awesome people with beliefs similar to mine and I can largely ignore the exclusive conservative sects, or oppose them in the proper political ...more
Jun 29, 2007 Chuck rated it it was ok
Kids in Norway wear corpsepaint and worship the devil, burn churchs and act otherwise retarded.

This book delves into these subjects and often times does so via strange avenues.
Interesting read, but sometimes too many mundane details and redundant points.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
You'll might wanna read up on the rather unpleasant origins of what is today Norway's number one cultural export.

Meanwhile, for your documentary pleasure ::

The black metal portion of "A Headbanger's Journey" (in three video=parts) ::

"True Norwegian Black Metal" ::
see gaahl's paintings

"Fenriz's Black Metal University" ::

The legendary Mayhem playing "Freezing Moon" ::
Nov 15, 2011 jersey9000 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music-rage
Read this when I was much younger, so was neat to go back and check it out again. I am a huge, HUGE fan of black metal, have been since I was 12. When I was a kid I loved the imagery of it- the EVIL, the satan action, anti church, everything. These days, my older, mellower self still loves the music, but cringes at the imagery now- man, what was I thinking? One thing hasn't changed- I respected them for their anti church stand. I did not at all condone the methods, and the fallout of everything, ...more
Jason Pettus
Jun 22, 2007 Jason Pettus rated it it was amazing
one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time, lords of chaos is a detailed and fascinating look at the black metal culture in northern europe in the 1990s; specifically, of the scene that arose in oslo at the time, which ultimately culminated in the burnings of multiple historic churches, as well as a murder spree within the scene and multiple charles-mansonesque arrests (and resulting tabloid coverage). uncompromisingly told from the standpoint of a fan who's also an educated journalist, it' ...more
This book is fucking fun. When you're, say, a 14 year old boy, the notion of forest-at-night black metal seems super-cool, and when you're a 22 year old boy, you can reflect on that through this well-compiled set of oral histories. I am rather annoyed that they chose to focus on the (albeit way more out there) history of Mayhem rather than going in depth on Emperor, Ulver, and ESPECIALLY Gorgoroth, but whatever, this shit's alright.
Feb 01, 2011 B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A few good pictures that people who live in caves without the internet (or people who have no interest in blackmetal) may have not seen before and a hell of a lot of misinformation delivered by pedestrian weekenders with no sincere devotion to the history of this extremely interesting style of music. It's not a complete and utter waste of time but please take it with a grain of salt.... this is hardly the whole picture and the part that is there is more than distorted.
Oct 07, 2013 Mizuki rated it really liked it
Shelves: pretty-good
A very informative and well researched book about black metal, its cultural and historical roots and its fandom, includes a lot of information about myths, satanism, folklore, teen subcultures and even crime and murder. The author mentioned all these issues without using a judging tone, and for that I'm glad. It's a really interesting and insightful book. I'd recommend it even to the non-fans.
Aug 11, 2015 Katrin rated it liked it
Shelves: music
I wanted to give this book four stars for a long time, but i changed to three, because there were anyway too many things that annoyed me to some extent. Let me start with explaining myself. I have gotten very much into Black Metal lately and although I already listened to Satyricon ten years ago, I never really got into it. This finally happened, better late than never, haha! There are many bands I love and enjoy, there are also enough bands that I simply cannot get into. And Burzum is one of ...more
Mar 27, 2016 Mike rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: teens

When I was a junior in high school, this book occupied pride of place on the shelf above my friend Paul Signorelli’s television. Placed next to the book, ominously, was a wine glass that looked like a skull, and which often seemed to contain some mysterious red liquid. We were in Catholic school at the time, and the book seemed suggestive of occult mystery: that is, everything Brother Dan, our school’s strict and unrelenting disciplinarian (who once told me, because I’d gone a week without shavi
Thomas Brown
Aug 23, 2013 Thomas Brown rated it liked it
Really in-depth account of the wave of murders, suicides, church-burnings and photos of doofuses in corpse paint waving halberds at the camera while grimacing that swept across Scandinavia in the early nineties.

The focus on the events around Varg Vikernes of Burzum and Euronymous of Mayhem - including Euronymous' record store as the centre of the scene, the suicide of first Mayhem singer Dead, and Vikernes' murder of Euronymous - is understandable, and the level of detail around that is first-ra
Jul 27, 2010 Zac rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, media
It has been quite a few years since I read this.
Lords of Chaos narrates the origins of the Scandanavian black metal scene, and to a lesser extent satanic- and occult-themed heavy metal in general. It does a fair job of this but suffers from a drift in focus. Whether he was aware of it or not, Moynihan's interest quickly drifts to white supremacism. And while many (too many) of these bands have associated with those themes (part of metal's unfortunate tendency to see any "extreme" statement as a
Aug 23, 2011 Michele rated it liked it
Shelves: music-true-crime
Got this item years ago through a trade. Basically was getting rid of some stuff. Exchanged a VHS tape full of 70s XXX trailers for this book.

Personally, always thought I got the better end of the deal.

It's an interesting read, especially if you're into music that fly under the mainstream radar. Don't worry, it won't convert you into Satanism, nor have you purchase loads of Black Metal CDs. Nor have you burn down churches, then kill your annoying next door neighbor. What this book will deliver
Aug 10, 2012 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Lords of Chaos is almost a book in three parts. Part one is short overview of various bands that are credited with bringing together all the elements that we know as black metal. Part two is the story of the first black metal bands and the crimes that they committed. Part three covers the newer waves of black metal bands through the world.

Of those three sections, the second part takes up most of the books page count and is clearly the reason that it was written, and it shows as the other two sec
Dec 12, 2008 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it it was amazing
Chronicles the literaly "killer" Scandinavian black metal scene. Fascinating look at the events that unfolded, where bands that were making brilliant music, were also burning down churches and comitting murders. And you thought Madonna and Bono took themselves too seriously!
Also includes some great essays on the wild hunt from euro folklore. Moynihan has this theory that Odinist Black Metal was a form of atavistic ancestral memory of the wild hunt manifesting itself, or something along those lin
Dale Jr.
Sep 25, 2012 Dale Jr. rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, music, 3-star
Been a while since I've read it but, as a book on the history of the Black Metal genre, it's probably the best you're going to get unless someone writes something better. Varg Vikernes gets a lot of page time towards the end of the book with his ridiculous ideas and conspiracies, but the rest of the book is great. Overall, a good outline and history of the emergence and evolution of Black Metal and the events surrounding the genre.
Dec 03, 2012 Nasser rated it it was amazing
The best book about how black metal started in Norway. Goes deep into details about the main bands' members personal relations, with concentration on the Burzum - Mayhem issue. It tried to cover all aspects of black metal, but unfortunately it wasn't able to include all major players in the black metal scene. Not in Norway nor the rest of Europe. Still, one of the best book written on black metal. A must read for every black metal fan.
Mar 04, 2010 Erik rated it liked it
Scary, intriguing, and silly all at once. The murders were truly disturbing, but I laughed out loud over the all-black metal record shop in downtown Oslo where walls were painted black, windows were shuttered to prevent sunlight from coming in, and customers had to shop via torchlight. Now that's just plain funny.
Mar 20, 2009 Clint rated it really liked it
I read this book in about 1998 or so, when I was really into black metal, and I loved it. A lot of those bands back then were really retarded but made great music. The book has a little filler, some crap from philosophy and psychology to puff it up a little. And one of the writers is a member of the Church of Satan, which is gay as all hell, but it's still a really entertaining book.
Carla Remy
Oct 25, 2012 Carla Remy rated it really liked it
Shelves: entertainment
Subcultures, music, satanism, paganism ... I'm listing the things fascinating in this book. The difference between the European mindset and American. Cult crimes, murder. A bunch of Norwegian teenagers in "corpsepaint." Endlessly entertaining. The book went on too long though. It seemed to take forever to read.
Sep 06, 2008 Nick rated it really liked it
Everything and more of what you've ever wondered about Scandinavian music-influence violence. Interviews with key players and their families. This book runs the gamut from the early days of Misfits and Venom influenced metal. Church burnings, murders, cannibalism, sacrifice, neofascism, and neopagansim...quite a bit of territory is covered here.
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wao 2 19 Oct 02, 2013 08:11PM  
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Moynihan was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a lawyer father. Moynihan identifies his background as entirely Northern European: Irish, English, Welsh, and German.[5] He is involved in a long standing collaborative and romantic relationship with musician Annabel Lee, with whom he has fathered a child.[1] He became active in experimental music from 1984, forming Blood Axis in 1989 and releasing his ...more
More about Michael Moynihan...

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