Mayhem’s haunting album cover: the story behind The Dawn of the Black Hearts

Mayhem, one of the pioneers of Norwegian black metal, is renowned for their controversial and dark aesthetic. The band’s album covers have always been an extension of their music, and perhaps none is more notorious than ‘The Dawn of the Black Hearts’. This article explores the chilling story behind this haunting album cover, revealing the shocking events that unfolded leading up to its creation.

The Controversial Live Photograph

‘The Dawn of the Black Hearts’ was released in 1995 as a live album, capturing Mayhem’s chaotic performance in Sarpsborg, Norway, on February 28, 1990. The album cover features a disturbing image of the band’s vocalist, Per Yngve Ohlin, also known as “Dead”, who tragically took his own life in April 1991. The photograph, taken by Mayhem’s guitarist, Øystein Aarseth (aka Euronymous), depicted Dead’s lifeless body with slit wrists and a gunshot wound to the head.

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A Gruesome Statement

Euronymous, known for his provocative nature, decided to use the image as the album cover without any hesitation. His intention was to shock and challenge societal norms, as well as convey the darkness and extreme nature of Mayhem’s music. The controversial cover sparked outrage and fascination within the metal community and beyond, elevating Mayhem’s infamy.

The Band’s Infamous History

Mayhem’s history is shrouded in darkness and tragedy. Even before Dead’s suicide, the band had been surrounded by controversy and violence. Euronymous was notorious for his involvement in the church burnings that plagued Norway’s black metal scene in the early 1990s. His fatal stabbing in August 1993 by fellow musician Varg Vikernes, also known as Burzum, further cemented Mayhem’s reputation as one of the most extreme and controversial bands in the genre.

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A Legacy of Provocation

‘The Dawn of the Black Hearts’, with its shocking album cover, has left an indelible mark on the metal community. It remains an enduring symbol of Mayhem’s uncompromising artistic vision and their willingness to push boundaries. The controversy surrounding the cover prompted debates on censorship, artistic freedom, and the ethics of using real-life tragedy for artistic purposes. Love it or hate it, the album cover continues to provoke strong reactions and remains an iconic piece of black metal history.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did Mayhem choose such a controversial album cover?

Mayhem, particularly Euronymous, sought to shock and challenge societal norms through their music and imagery. The disturbing album cover was a deliberate choice to reflect the extreme nature of their music and push boundaries within the metal genre.

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Did the album cover face any legal issues or censorship?

The album cover did face censorship in some countries due to its graphic and controversial nature. Several versions of the album were released with alternative covers to comply with certain regulations. However, the original cover remains widely known and associated with the album.

Did the band receive backlash for using a real-life tragedy for artistic purposes?

Yes, the band faced criticism for using Dead’s suicide as an album cover. The decision was seen by many as exploitative and insensitive. However, others argue that it was a reflection of the band’s artistic expression and their desire to confront and challenge societal norms.

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Hello there! I'm Sally, a 29-year-old music enthusiast. I love staying up to date with the latest online music trends and videos. Join me as I explore the world of music and share my insights with you!