Norwegian Black Metal Music Inspired by Edvard Munch

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Norwegian Black Metal Music Inspired by Edvard Munch

To celebrate the opening of the new Munch Museum in Oslo in June 2020, four booming Norwegian artists were challenged to create music inspired by Edvard Munch’s paintings.

The black metal group 1349 is screaming out loud, inspired by Edvard Munch’s artwork Death Struggle. A black metal band with a neutral name? Think again. 1349 reflects the year when the plague the Black Death killed off more than 60 percent of the Norwegian population.

Norwegian Black Metal Music Inspired by Edvard Munch
Blach metal band 1349

“It takes a bit of time, perhaps, to train your ear to listen to a genre like black metal”, Idar Burheim aka Archaon says. With their unalterable sombre sound combined with a relentless, aggressive rhythm, 1349 are still regarded as leaders in the black metal scene and have an increasing number of loyal fans. Stamina is a trademark of the quartet, which in addition to Idar Burheim consists of Tor Stavenes (Seidemann), Olav Bergene (Ravn), and Kjetil Haraldstad (Frost).

Related: Black Metal Meets Edvard Munch in Oslo

Norwegian Black Metal Music Inspired by Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch, Death struggle

In 1997, the band 1349 raised from the ashes of the group Alvheim, and ever since its concept has been described by its members as “aural hellfire”.

Edvard Munch was heavily influenced by the many deaths in his close family, and portrayed death and suffering throughout his adult life. His experimental use of color shows death as a space where body and soul meet. “Munch’s art literally screams inside your head.” – 1349

You can look at a painting and music starts playing in your head. Music that can reach into your mind and pull out thoughts of the work by one of the world’s most celebrated artists – the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch.

Related: World-famous Contemporary Artist Interprets Edvard Munch in Oslo

The early 1990s Norwegian black metal scene gets credit for the creation of the modern black metal genre. A hot tip for experiencing the metal culture is the annual Inferno Metal Festival that takes place in Oslo during Easter. International famous groups like Matoma and 1349 have been inspired by Edvard Munch’s paintings in search of new music. Now the songs will help inspire visitors to come to Norway.

Norwegian Black Metal Music Inspired by Edvard Munch
Matoma picked the voice of the songwriter and producer Ruben Markussen to give life to the Edvard Munch project

Matoma picked the voice of the songwriter and producer Ruben Markussen to give life to the Edvard Munch project. Ruben started making music as a way of dealing with his own experiences with mental health issues, to explain what he was going through. He fell in love with music at the age of 13 and released his first real single seven years later. The electropop artist has, in a very short time, reached millions of streams on Spotify. “Puberty by Munch is so raw and it feels so real.” – Matoma

Norwegian Black Metal Music Inspired by Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch, Puberty

Matoma is praised for his uncompromisingly catchy hits.

Two other performers, 9 grader nord is known for their energetic folk music and Gundelach is characterized by his “Nordic noir” sound. Discover the up-and-coming electro-noir artist Gundelach’s passionate interpretation of Edvard Munch’s Self-portrait in Hell. Oslo-based Kai Gundelach proves that dark and introvert music can be liberatingly danceable in a fearless mix of genres like R&B and electropop. As he himself phrases it: “I create melancholic music with glimpses of hope.”

Norwegian Black Metal Music Inspired by Edvard Munch
9 grader nord

Related: The Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo on the Move

Norwegian Black Metal Music Inspired by Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch, Self portrait in hell

For a long time, Gundelach has been an influential DJ name in the capital of Norway. His career made a giant leap when he introduced his sound universe, enthusiastically named “electro-noir” by the music critic authority New Musical Express.

Norwegian Black Metal Music Inspired by Edvard Munch
Gundelach has been an influential DJ name in the capital of Norway

The name 9 grader nord (Norwegian for 9 degrees north) is a reference to the location of the city Jaffna in Sri Lanka where the two female band members, sisters Mira and Dipha Thiruchelvam, are from. Together with Jakob Sønnesyn and Jakob Sisselson Hamre, they make folk music that, according to music critics, travels across borders.

Norwegian Black Metal Music Inspired by Edvard Munch
The Sick Child 1907 by Edvard Munch

See how the energetic folk music group 9 grader nord transformed The Sick Child by Edvard Munch into a song.


Four bands. Four paintings. Four different outcomes.

Feature image (on top): Metoma interprets Edvard Munch.

Norwegian Black Metal Music Inspired by Edvard Munch, based on press releases from the Minch Museum in Oslo

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