By Keith CarmanBlack metal owes a great debt to Varg Vikernes, more commonly known as Count Grishnackh and/or recording artist Burzum. Were it not for his outright insanity and headline-grabbing actions, the genre as a whole would never have become internationally renowned.
Much of the tomfoolery he and his fellow Norwegian musicians got up to in the late '80s and early '90s is now legendary: church burning, acts of indecency, toting weapons and, of course, murder. Vikernes has spent the past 16 years in prison for murdering Mayhem guitarist Ø˜ystein "Euronymous" Aarseth. Well, that and stealing his father's car in order to unload a bunch of heavy-duty weapons during a brief 2003 parole. Despite being imprisoned though, Vikernes still managed to record a number of low-fidelity albums and become the Norwegian Charles Manson: revered by extremists and feared by the common folk.
However, after four previous parole denials, Vikernes has finally been set free. While it remains to be seen as to whether or not the unique man has been rehabilitated by his incarceration, as far back as last July he had uttered statements alluding to such personality refinement.
"I'm ready for society - and I have been for many years," he is noted as asserting. "I have learned from my mistakes and become older. Now I just want to be together with my family... I have barely seen my son since he came into the world. Even though I hear his voice on the phone almost every day, it is very tough to not be present while he is growing up."
Vikernes has not yet commented on if he will record more music as a free man.