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Saturday, July 20, 2024

‘Greven’ lost his black metal fans

Kristian “Varg” Vikernes was once known as “Greven” (The Count) of Norway’s renowned black metal music community, but critics say he ended up alienating most of his Norwegian fans. Vikernes, now a right-wing terror suspect in France, still has followers in Europe, though, both for his music and his ultra-conservative politics.

“Varg Vikernes has some undisputed classics in his catalogue, but we haven’t spent much time on his newer compositions,” the editor of Metal Hammer Norway, Guro Juul Andersen, told newspaper Dagsavisen on Wednesday after Vikernes, also a convicted murderer and arsonist, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack.

“We decided long ago not to review his albums or interview him,” Andersen said. “We don’t want to give him and his, in our eyes, screwed-up opinions any column space, and thus be a platform for his propaganda.”

Vikernes, a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, became a “clown who earlier made a lot of good music,” Asbjørn Slettemark, music host for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), told Dagsavisen. Slettemark said Vikernes’ comeback album in 2010 was good, “but now he has, in all ways both musically and politically, played himself onto the sidelines. He messed things up for himself.”

Slettemark claimed “folks in the metal milieu in Norway are sick of him,” and that it was no longer possible to take Vikernes seriously.

Others contend Vikernes, who was in remand custody in France on Wednesday and facing police questioning, has remained an active right-wing extremist who has followers, especially in Eastern Europe. “In contrast to the Norwegian black metal milieu, which is politically apathetic, he’s very active,” said author Håvard Rem, who’s written a book about black metal music. The milieu in Eastern Europe is also “very ideological,” Rem added, and Vikernes enjoys its respect.

Tor Bach, of website Vepsen, which follows totalitarian and racist movements, describes Vikernes as an “idol” more than an activist and thinks the number of  his followers have declined. Didrik Søderlind of the Norwegian Humanist Association (Human-Etisk Forbund) told  Dagsavisen that Vikernes is known for using violence but isn’t good at cooperating with other extremists and has alienated earlier supporters. Søderlind doubts that Vikernes would resort to a terrorist attack, noting that Vikernes criticized the attacks carried out by another Norwegian right-wing terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik.

Norwegian authorities mum or not involved
Vikernes’ former Norwegian defense attorney, John Christian Elden, meanwhile, thinks the French authorities had “thin grounds” for arresting Vikernes since they haven’t presented any hard evidence yet and have said they can’t point to any specific terror plan.

Norway’s police intelligence unit PST has declined any comment on the case, and it’s not clear whether PST played any role in Vikernes’ arrest. It came after Vikernes’ wife had bought firearms and after he wrote more inflammatory statements on his blog, where he blamed a recent train accident outside Paris on immigrants, has glorfified Hitler and Vidkun Quisling, and described both Jesus and singer Leonard Cohen as Jewish “parasites.”

French police can only hold Vikernes and his wife, who also was arrested, for four days with no formal charges filed. Norwegian authorities say they haven’t been contacted by either their French colleagues or by Vikernes, but have asked for an official report on the circumstances of his arrest.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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