One of black metal’s most famous legends revolves around the 1991 suicide of Mayhem vocalist Per ‘Dead’ Ohlin. For over 20 years, rumors have circulated worldwide about Mayhem guitarist Euronymous sending pieces of Dead’s skull to other black metal musicians as a sign of deep respect towards their work and dedication to the genre. During our recent interview with Marduk’s Morgan ‘Evil’ Steinmeyer Håkansson, the guitarist not only confirmed that he does indeed possess a piece of Dead’s skull, but also lead fragments from the bullet which killed Dead and a piece of his brain matter.
The world of black metal is a realm where many modern urban legends have been told. Passed on through word of mouth, there are many rumors from the Swedish and Norwegian black metal scenes from the early 1990s, mostly revolving around acts of violence, church burnings and even cannibalism. However, the truth of what happened with Dead’s skull fragments may be the most sought after answer in the long and infamous history of black metal.
We were able to ask Morgan of Marduk about the rumors face to face, and the answer he offered left us delightfully yet horrifically speechless. “Yeah, sure,” Morgan confirmed. “I got it way back, right after he died. Back in those days they [Mayhem] were living in a house and didn’t have the best financial aspects, so they didn’t even have a telephone. So I remember I was celebrating New Year’s in 1991 with Dead back home in Sweden. Then he got back, he wrote one letter [to me], then someone told me he’s killed himself.”
Morgan continued, “So I wrote a letter [to Mayhem] and then I got the reply back from the guitar player [Euronymous] — “Well he just shot himself and here’s a piece of his skull.” It was a shotgun, you know? So [he also sent me] two pieces of the lead and a piece of the wet brain. I’ve still got it. I keep it well protected.”
We asked Morgan who else Euronymous had sent tokens from Dead’s suicide to. “He sent it to all these former comrades of Dead,” he said with an innocent smile, making it clear that he would not reveal any other names. “A few of them. There were not that many people … maybe five.”
Stay tuned for our full interview with Marduk’s Morgan ‘Evil’ Steinmeyer Håkansson, as well as our show review from their New York City tour date.
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