Backed by legions of international fans, the former Mayhem guitarist has rocketed past the chasing pack in the Oslo section of the poll, leaving the more sedate candidates proposed by the airline’s own committee trailing in his wake.
Norwegian launched the campaign to celebrate its first ten years in the air. Seeking a tailfin hero of whom Norwegians could be proud, the airline has allowed voters to nominate their own heroes. However, it suggested they opt for one of the candidates put forward by the committee: marathon runner Grete Waitz, actress Wenche Foss, or ex-Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen.
To qualify for a place on the tailfin, candidates need to have come from the Oslo region, excelled in their respective fields and inspired others.
A leading figure in a black metal scene notorious in the 1990s for church burnings and vicious in-fighting, Aarseth died in 1993 at the age of 25 after being stabbed 23 times by his erstwhile understudy and bandmate Varg Vikernes.
Known also as Euronymous, Aarseth had previously earned notoriety for allegedly taking photos of Mayhem member Per “Dead” Ohlin immediately after his gory suicide in 1991, before making necklaces from pieces of the ex-vocalist’s skull.
With voting set to close on March 28th, the relentless clicks of black metal fans the world over have propelled Aarseth into first place.
Once the deadline arrives, a jury appointed by the airline will sift through the five nominees with the highest number of votes.
Norwegian spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen told newspaper Aftenposten it was “too early to say” if Aarseth fulfilled the necessary criteria.
But according to Svein Egil Hatlevik, who nominated the Mayhem guitarist, there can be little doubt that Euronymous fits the bill.
“It would be sad if they didn’t want to recognize the contribution to Norwegian culture provided by Aarseth over the course of his short life,” Hatlevik told the newspaper.