The Norwegian foreign ministry has announced that it has begun training aspiring diplomats in True Norwegian Black Metal (TNBM), as the musical genre increasingly becomes a cornerstone of Norwegian culture.
A high number of enquiries about the phenomenon have reportedly been pouring into the ministry; not least since one of the style’s most prominent bands, Dimmu Borgir, took to the stage in Oslo recently with a full orchestra, a choir, and an audience of 3,500, gaining widespread media attention across the world.
Speaking to newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv, Kjersti Sommerset, head of the foreign ministry’s centre for excellence, said, “We now have 106 foreign service missions and they get many enquiries from people who want information about Norwegian black metal as a phenomenon. In the training programme, we have a large cultural programme in order to give the trainees a good understanding of Norwegian culture and the cultural industry.” Black metal “is clearly a part of this,” she added.
Havard Rem, the author of Innfodteskrik [Native Calls], a leading book on TNBM, applauded the ministry’s efforts, claiming that, “For people under 40, it is this that they connect to Norway.” He added that, “even if one does not like the music, it quickly becomes a topic for discussion.”
Rem also talked about the dark period in the history of black metal when a number of violent incidents, such as murders and church-burnings, flung the genre into the spotlight in the 1990s.
“You have to realise that this is the history, but it was 20 years ago and, today, Norwegian bands are acceptable,” Rem told Dagens Naeringsliv. He added that such issues are not relevant to TNBM today, pointing out that, “one can talk about Norwegian salmon without talking about salmon lice, and Ibsen was seen as destructive in his day.”