Extreme music for extreme people?

Norwegian black metal and transcendent violence


  • Michelle Phillipov University of Tasmania Author




Emperor, heavy metal, moral panic, neo-Nazism, Norwegian black metal


This article focuses on the events of the Norwegian black metal scene in the early 1990s, a period in which violent aesthetics in metal music became explicitly and deliberately articulated to real acts of violence. Concentrating on the musical and criminal activities of the band Emperor, the author suggests that the group’s success was, at least in part, the result of members’ simultaneous promotion and disavowal of their involvement in violent crime. The case highlights not only how not all claims of a link between music and violence are entirely fabricated, but also the necessity of rethinking conventional approaches to music, violence and controversy, given the ongoing legacy of the events of the early 1990s within the contemporary black metal scene.

Author Biography

  • Michelle Phillipov, University of Tasmania

    Michelle Phillipov is Lecturer in Journalism, Media and Communications at the University of Tasmania. Her research interests include extreme metal, media controversy and food media. She is the author of Death Metal and Music Criticism: Analysis at the Limits.


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How to Cite

Phillipov, M. (2012). Extreme music for extreme people? Norwegian black metal and transcendent violence. Popular Music History, 6(1-2), 150-163. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.v6i1.150