The band performed several secret shows during the Wolf’s Lair Abyss tour, hence the name Wolf’s Lair Abyss.
Founded by Jørn Stubberud (Necrobutcher) and Kjetil (Manheim) under the name Musta (meaning “black” in Finnish), after Øystein Aarseth (Euronymous), they changed it to Mayhem. The band name comes from the Venom song “Chaos with Mercy”.
In the early years, the band used live singer Messiah or Maniac at live/studio events, playing instruments during rehearsals or singing with Necrobutcher or Euronymous.
By the end of 1987, both Manheim and Maniac had left the band, and their positions were temporarily filled by Vomit members before frontman Dead and drummer Hellhammer took over in 1988.
After Dead’s suicide, the media and police become concerned, and Necrobutcher (Jørn Stubberud) decides to leave the band. Dead has been replaced by Occultus (Stian Johansen), the former singer of Thyabhorrent and Euronymous’s partner in the “Helvete” store. He sang and played bass on Mayhem for a few months, but left soon after. As the band needed musicians, Varg Vikernes (Burzum) joined as bassist and worked on the De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas album with Hungarian singer Attila Csihar, who appeared on the album but never fully committed to the band at the time.
After the trial, Euronymous Hellhammer’s parents demanded that the basslines recorded by Varg be removed. He told them he would record the new bass himself, but the truth was he didn’t know how to play that instrument, so the album stayed the same, with the Varg on it. Other rumors about Occultus playing new bass are also false, and according to Hellhammer, he never played a single note with the band during Mayhem.
Although the founder and the main driving force of the band had passed away, Hellhammer later reactivated the band, with Maniac and Necrobutcher rejoining with new guitarist Blasphemer. Over the next few years, Mayhem’s musical style changed dramatically. In 2004, Maniac left again and Atilla Csihar rejoined Mayhem full-time.
Mayhem’s live performances, especially in the era of Euronymous and Dead, have always been known for delivering powerful atmospheric effects, such as pig heads pierced with wooden pegs. Clothes of the deceased were buried days/weeks before the show and dug up to rot, soiled and full of insects. Rotten pieces of meat were thrown into the audience. Dead crows were placed in a bag so that the deceased could constantly smell decay and death. The members were also noticed cutting themselves on stage. While the extreme aspects of the show moderated later in life, Attila Csihar was still notorious for her theatrical performances and stage costumes.
Fun fact: Euronymous was responsible for bringing many famous bands (Darkthrone, Immortal, Emperor) to black metal and/or changing their music style from death metal to black metal. He is credited with inspiring the entire Norwegian black metal movement and making it what it is today.
Although he played in the strongly anti-Christian band Mayhem, early singer Kittil Kittilsen (ex Kvikksølvgutten, Vomit) left the music industry around 2000 and became a fundamentalist Christian, but he warned people to join the rock/pop bandwagon Dangerous Band plays lyrical/ideological content.