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

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  6,865 ratings  ·  398 reviews
The book focuses on the scene surrounding the extreme heavy metal subgenre black metal in Norway in the early 1990s, with a focus on the string of church burnings and murders that occurred in the country around 1993.
Paperback, 391 pages
Published November 1st 2003 by Feral House (first published 1998)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  6,865 ratings  ·  398 reviews

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Feb 20, 2013 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
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Ok, this was a fascinating read, but one that I wouldn't really recommend. On one hand, I am completely intrigued by fringe groups and underground subcultures (in a scholarly if not voyeuristic way), but on the other hand I really really hate these guys, and want them to stop being such horrible people. I've been frustrated for years that a lot of bands 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 value of thi ...more
Feb 26, 2008 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. S ...more
Jul 15, 2014 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’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- everything, that is, that Brother Dan, our school’s strict and unrelenting disciplinarian, opposed. I remember listening, short of breath, as Paul rela
Justin Evans
May 03, 2012 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 c ...more
Jul 30, 2015 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 th ...more
Sep 13, 2009 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 channel ...more
Michael Jandrok
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the mid-1990s Norway was scandalized by a series of church arsons. The true nature of the crimes became a media sensation when it was revealed that a number of native black metal musicians were tied to the crime spree. Murders soon followed arson as the crimes became even more bizarre and shocking.

“Lords of Chaos” is an in-depth look at the scene that spawned these incidents. Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind have authored one of the oddest true crime stories that I have ever read. It's c
Ill D
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
Like a lot of people in their youth, I was into a lot of silly stuff. As degenerate as the fake friends who exposed me to such, metal music in all it’s forms strongly permeated my dark teenage years with a strong dose of, now retroactive cringe.While I happily dropped this puerile slop after high school, this music, especially in it’s black form, evidently has had far more more reaching impact to others who stayed on the crazy train from its inception.

In fact, it was during this second wave, pos
Dr. Detroit
Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Bat-shit crazy Nords burn churches, murder each other, hail Satan, and rock out. In other words, these aren't your typical longhaired guys in spandex who can't afford to buy a hamburger. To say they are cut from a different cloth would require an apology to the entire textile industry.

The prose is a bit dry and clinical but make no mistake: this is truly dire stuff. You've been warned.
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Satanists, Metalheads, Sociology students
Recommended to Michael by: Pete Buttitta
This book came out just as I was beginning to explore the black metal musical genre, and it served as a kind of guide and context for my embrace of a new sound. In retrospect, it's probably not as "perfect" as my five-star rating would imply, but its impact on my life cannot be ignored.

What Moynihan and Sonderlind attempted was to write an analysis of a new musical subculture that contains a critique of the rock world and the society that creates it. They also examine some of the contradictions
Aug 15, 2014 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
Feb 07, 2008 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
Jason Pettus
Jun 22, 2007 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
Jun 23, 2007 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.
Aurélien Thomas
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Some may remember it or not, some may know about it or not, but back in the early nineties in Norway several churches were torched by a bunch of youngsters belonging to the Black Metal scene, then a new musical subgenre. A few of those youngsters went even further than arsons, going as far as committing murders. Now, here's an interesting book, offering a deep insight into the violent fringe of what was to constitute, at its core, an extreme musical movement gone mad. I like it, but, as a fan of ...more
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" ::
Jan 26, 2011 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
Nov 15, 2011 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
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Morbidly interesting, and a good true crime novel for the first 150 or so pages before it devolves into a 200 page breakdown of fascist/nationalist movements in Eastern Europe. A lot of time is devoted to letting the murderers and fascists explain themselves, but they all come off looking like dumb little rich teens who have no idea what they are talking about, even though the author is set on stating that they are above-average intelligence over and over again. Varg Vikernes believes in ancient ...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 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.
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Impeccably researched with excellent writing. Lords of Chaos is a fascinating, detailed dissection of black metallers from Norway who took pageantry and dark theatrical imagery as sanctioned legitimacy of all evils to the point of enacting brutal violence and espousing radical right wing beliefs. Though it seems too exhaustive at times, the end product is an entirely comprehensive journalistic undertaking into a movement that would otherwise be incomprehensible.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hmmm... Where to begin... I can't sleep and I'm thinking 'bout this book...

It's a book about Mayhem, Burzum, Varg Vikerness, the death of Death, Euronymous and others. Teenagers burning churches in Norway. The rise of satanism in the eighties and nineties in the scandinavian subcultures. But it's mainly about the 'leaders' of the black metal scene: Vikerness and Euronymous.

I've read Vickerness' blog when he was in prison and seen some of his videos on Youtube. I've also read his MYFAROG. It's v
Draconis Blackthorne
Quite an intriguing read - the book mostly focuses on church arson, murder amongst their own, and the development of this counter-culture primarily in The Netherlands, spawned from the iconoclasm of Venom, Bathory, Celtic Frost, Mercyful Fate, Possessed, and Slayer. These were bands that I listened to in formative evilution, and still put them on the crackling turntable from time to time when the feeling is appropriate, for evocation and Vampiric invigorating preservation/time travel. Of particu ...more
Brian Shevory
Aug 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
What an interesting book. I didn't know a lot about black metal in Norway, even though I read another book from Feral Press entitled Lucifer Rising, which I felt was a much better book about the role of the devil in rock and blues music. However, this book wasn't just about music, since there were so many events tied into the black metal scene in Norway. It was weird because when I was reading this book, a friend's sister was getting married and moving to Norway to do ministry work with her Nors ...more
Casey Danielson
Sep 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I knew nothing about Scandinavian Black Metal, an inherently terrifying musical genre, until I stumbled upon this book at MLK. What if you were in a band so evil that one member asks another to kill him, and he does (with an axe to the face). Not to be extreme, but that's what happened. These guys burn churches, attempt assasinations, and carry out cruelty with no remorse. Somehow music is involved, too--very curious about that. You don't want to get brought down by topics like these, but if you ...more
Dec 11, 2008 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
Oct 07, 2013 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.
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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

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