• "Drunk as hell but no throwin' up
  • Half way home and my pager still blowin' up
  • Today I didn't even have to use my A.K.
  • I gotta say it was a good day"

In the above lyrics, taken from Ice Cube's 1993 masterpiece 'It Was A Good Day', the legendary rapper and Disney-movie star that helped introduce gangster rap into the mainstream, expresses his joy for having just one day off from having to use his AK-47 automatic rifle in the killing grounds that were early 90s gang-torn South Central Los Angeles.

However, I remember reading sometime in the mid-2000s that Ice Cube had gone on record on American public radio station NPR admitting that he had never killed anyone. A complete contradiction to the numerous photos of Ice Cube holding handguns and contrary to everything he had ever rapper about, yet still no one really cared.

Which begs the question, are we consciously aware that our favourite artists cultivate images for themselves that we, the public buy into? And how would we react to a musician or icon that was as genuinely authentic as their music seems to suggest?

Welcome to 'Real Recognise Real', a new series dedicated to finding and exposing the musicians who represent the latter path. Here you'll find a snapshot of the world's gangbangers, murderers and criminals that seemingly moonlight as musicians. Here you'll find the musicians that make your favourite troubled starlet's drug addiction look like mere childplay.

For our first instalment, I'd like to introduce Norwegian black metal band Mayhem. Widely recognised as one of the most brutal genres of music to ever grace the planet, black metal has become synonymous with dense heavy music that often glorifies violence and where band members often identify as Satanists.

Sadly though, gone are the days when tame rockers Twisted Sister managed to offend Tipper Gore (read: the definition of stick up the ass 1980s stereotypes) and even brutal rockers like Cannibal Corpse may often admit that such feel good hits as 'I Cum Blood' are nothing more than fantasy and ironically members of Slayer actually identify as dedicated Catholics. It all seems some tame.

Until you get to Mayhem, who tear 'tame' limb from limb and bathe in its blood.

Formed in 1984, Mayhem has gone through a series of different members since its initial line up, however its important to make clear that Mayhem's version of 'artistic differences' and 'exploring new projects' is slightly more sinister than your average buzz band.

  • If lying on a bench isn't 'mayhem', we don't know what is.

Take initial lead singer Dead (also known as Per Yngve Ohlin) for instance. Due to a chaotic childhood and early experience with death, Dead apparently always believed he was well, dead. A man true to his alias, Dead would often carry around a necklace with dead animals, which he would smell prior to shows just to make sure he had the smell of death in his nostrils. Never one to take his own name lightly, he took things to a slightly more serious level in 1991, when he slit his wrists and shot himself in the head with a shotgun, leaving behind the slightly un-Cobainish note "Excuse all the blood. I have slit my wrists and neck."

However, it was lead guitarist, Øystein Aarseth, better known then as Euronymous, who took things to an even more sinister level. Never one to let a possible metal moment pass him by, he stumbled upon Dead's body, and historically took a photo of the corpse. This photo, as bloody and brutal as you could imagine, would one day find itself on the cover of a Mayhem South American bootleg.

This move actually isolated Euronymous from a lot of people in the scene, but he soon formed a new friendship with studio bassist Varg Vikernes, then known as Count Grishnackh. Initially friends, the two quickly developed something of an unhealthy relationship. We might call it the ultimate 'dick measuring competition'.

In early 1993, Varg Vikernes shone an unhealthy spotlight onto the black metal scene with an interview with Bergens Tidende, one of Norway's largest newspapers. In this interview, Vikernes admitted that both he and the black metal scene were behind several notorious church burnings, including the burning of the Fantoft Stave church, a historical 12th century medieval church, as well as allegedly killing a man in Lillehammer Norway. The journalists shared these reports with the police investigating the case, who corroborated facts that hadn't exactly been leaked out to press yet. Although now claiming it was a hoax, police scrutiny on the black metal scene and both Vikernes and Euronymous led to some tension between the duo.

  • A church the band reportedly took their rage out on.

In mid-1993, the situation between Vikernes and Euronymous came to a head when Vikernes arrived at Euronymous's apartment in Oslo, stabbing him to death with 24 stab wounds found on Euronymous's head, neck and back. Although the reason for the crime has never officially been confirmed, Vikernes claims the killing was in self-defence and that Euronymous had been known for making one too many jokes about videotaping and torturing Vikernes to death. Understandably he got the hump, but he didn't quite get away with the crime. Instead, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison and was arrested in France in 2013 for allegations of terrorism and inciting racial violence.

As with life, change and growth has permeated the band throughout the years, and it would be easy to disregard the fact that as an entity, it has matured. The band still continues to tour and the level of murder and violence has significantly dwindled, but they're still not quite the Brady Bunch. Sometimes, pompous journalists who have slated the band (seriously, I fucking love you Mayhem) have been known to receive animal heads with daggers stuck between their eyes and sheep's heads have been known to knock out the odd show-goer trying to pick up chicks. And yes, the more recent frontman Manic was kicked (literally, he was kicked down some stairs and slammed headfirst into a wall) by member Blasphemer in 2004 quite literally for drinking just a bit too much to calm his nerves.

But in Norway's black metal scene and the definite footprint Mayhem have left behind, these things show signs of progress, and their 1993 album De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is a certified game-changer in the scene (quick note to mention that on this album you can hear both guitarist and bassist, killer and victim, play together respectively). And although tragedy may permeate this band, do we respect them more for being sincere with their music, or would we rather tune out to Metallica while we pretend to be badasses? I don't have an answer, but I do have another case study for next time.