Oops: Dead metal musician leads contest to be immortalized on airline's planes

The Globe and Mail

Artist's impression of what a Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA might look like with Euronymous on the tail. (photoillo cinders mcleod/Photo-illustration by Cinders McLeod/The Globe and Mail)

The latest entry in the annals of Marketing Stunts Gone Spectacularly Wrong may soon belong to Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA.

The low-cost airline’s online contest to nominate a national hero to be painted on their airplanes’ tail fins is currently being led by Euronymous, a.k.a. Øystein Aarseth, a black-metal musician who was the victim in one of Norway’s most notorious murder cases.

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Aarseth died in 1993 at the hands of former bandmate Varg Vikernes, aka Count Grishnackh, who has been dubbed Norway’s Charles Manson for his role in numerous church-burnings as well as Aarseth’s killing.

Dead (left) and Euronymous (right)

Vikernes served nearly 15 years until being freed in 2009; his other band, Burzum, and his and Aarseth’s former outfit, Mayhem, are key acts in black metal, which is characterized by anti-religious dogma, high-pitched screaming and having annoyed the crap out of parents from Trondheim to Tokyo.

Though Aarseth’s musical influence is enormous, he was no saint. Aarseth praised Stalin and Pol Pot, issued death threats to other musicians (including Vikernes) and upon discovering the corpse of another friend who committed suicide, took photos and collected skull fragments – which he later allegedly made into jewellery – before calling the police.

One might view his nomination as hijacking the process, but black-metal fans aren’t the only partisans mounting a campaign. Other leading candidates include navy officer Trond André Bolle, who was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan, and Hans Nielsen Hauge, a 19th-century Christian reformer.

The contest closes Wednesday; may the most ardent fanatics win.