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Mayhem is one of a handful of bands that can be credited with igniting the whole Norwegian black metal scene. Formed in 1983 by Venom fans who took the band's "satanic" imagery rather seriously, Mayhem eventually became one of, if not the most notorious of the Norwegian bands. Started by two kids calling themselves Manheim and Necrobutcher, the intent was to create the most evil music the world had ever known. The pair enlisted local record store owner Euronymous on guitar and a guy named Maniac on vocals, and very quickly the band's lifestyle began to reflect the music. Maniac left after recording some demos and a failed suicide attempt. His replacement, Dead, actually blew his own brains out, a scene which the guitar player Euronymous, took pictures of, allegedly ate some of his friend's brain and made jewelry of bone fragments he picked up before the police arrived. Euronymous himself was eventually brutally murdered by Varg Vikernes, (aka Count Grishnackh of Burzum, the notorious one-man pagan reclamation project) an early member of the band, for not being evil enough, or owing him money, according to conflicting reports from Vikernes himself. Live shows were played with dead, rotting animals on the stage and one of the band members actually kept his clothes in a hole in the ground, so they would be sufficiently decayed for showtime. Regardless of all the hype (and we're not even mentioning the 100-plus churches that were burnt to the ground in Norway during this period), Mayhem's first proper record, De Mysteriis Dom Sanathas, is one of the very best releases of the genre. The band continued on after the death of Euronymous, and releases albums to this day.

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