After arrest in black church arson case, officials mention ‘black metal’ music instead of racism

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On Wednesday night, 21-year-old Holden Matthews was arrested and charged with three counts of arson of a religious building. The arrest was the culmination of an investigation by federal, state, and local law enforcement into a series of fires that targeted three historically black churches in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Matthews is the son of local Sheriff Roy Matthews, who, according to the website Insider, assisted law enforcement by “drawing his son away from their home so authorities could arrest him without incident.”

The fires started on March 26, when St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre was set ablaze. The Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas burned on April 2, and the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, also in Opelousas, on April 4. Authorities have said that, based on their investigations and information Matthews has “offered,” they believe that this series of racist terrorist attacks might be motivated by … heavy metal music, and more specifically the subgenre known as “black metal.” Black metal was a movement that made waves about seven years ago, after VICE Studios released Lords of Chaos, a documentary on the Norwegian black metal scene.

The scene began getting wide tabloid coverage after a series of church burnings, followed by the disturbing case of black metal luminary Varg Vikernes—the center of a sort of crazed cult of personality—who was arrested for the violent murder of another performer, Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth. Vikernes said he had pre-emptively murdered Euronymous before Euronymous could murder him. The case brought up questions regarding Vikernes’ mental health. Vikernes was convicted of the murder and of burning four churches in Norway in 1994, served 15 years of a 21-year sentence, and was released in 2009.

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