Norwegian Church Draws Black Metal Fans

Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten is reporting that the restored stave church (photo) in Fantoft in Bergen, Norway has become a pilgrimage site for European black metal music fans who want to visit the site of the church-burning that Varg Vikernes (a.k.a. Count Grishnack) of the one-man band BURZUM was suspected of carrying out.

On the cover of the BURZUM EP album "Aske" (Ashes) one can see a 1992 picture of the charred ruins of Fantoft stave church. Varg Vikernes is serving a sentence for murder and church burnings.

Guide Arne Dyrøy is not terribly thrilled about some of the new tourists to Fantoft.

"The church has received unwelcome attention because of the 1992 fire and we have had visitors wearing T-shirts with pictures of the burnt ruins. This is very disrespectful," Dyrøy said.

Dyrøy told NRK that many of the black metal tourists ask about Vikernes, and want to visit him in Bergen Prison.

The church as also been visited by a Canadian film team making a documentary about heavy metal music.

Torgrim Øyre, music reviewer and assistant organizer of the annual Bergen metal festival Hole in the Sky, agrees that the Fantoft burning was a "classic event in Norwegian black metal history" but believes the pilgrimage is a phenomenon limited to "slightly nerdy" foreigners.

Dyrøy told NRK that he kept a watchful eye on the black metal tourist crowd.

"As a rule they are very polite and easy-going but I am a bit on guard in case they try some kind of stunt," Dyrøy said.

Several hundred people attended the consecration of Fantoft stave church after its reconstruction in 1997 (photo#1, photo#2).

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