Somewhere around 1990 I rolled into extreme metal. Then in 1991 we hear about the debut cd of the Swiss band Samael (“Worship Him”) and me and a friend started to explore the genre called “black metal”, a Satanic kind of metal. Samael was about the first album that peeked out of the underground, but that underground proved to be vast. Especially from Scandinavia came a plethora of extreme bands with a distinctive style (high pitched guitars, high pitched vocals). There was also a scene in the Netherlands and we soon started to meet the few other people who enjoyed this extreme form of music and philosophy. In several ways it was adversary to other metal scenes. Sure, there was headbanging, but as soon somebody started to try to “pogo” / “mosh” (jump around in front of the stage) or “stagedive”, he was usually kicked out. I remember the bassist of Marduk kicking a stagediver off stage. “No Fun, No Core, No Mosh, No Trends” was the scene motto.
In 1998 Michael Moynihan (of Blood Axis etc.) and Didrik Søderlind published a book called Lords Of Chaos which described the history of the early days of the black metal scene. The book has been revised and expanded in 2003, but apparently I read it so long ago that I do not have a review of it. Now, after all these years, the volatile Jonas Åkerlund turned the book into a film, or at least, he created a story based on events that can also be read about in the book. Åkerlund used to play in the “first wave” black metal band Bathory, but he also made films and videoclips for Madonna and The Prodigy. Obviously he does not really care for the “true” versus “poser” discussion!
The film turns out to be mostly the story of Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth who is both the voice-over and the main character. Åkerlund portrays him as a misanthropic youngster who wants to be “evil”. We see how Mayhem singer Dead comes to join the band and how he ends. Euronymous uses that event to come across even more wicked than he actually is, making a name, which is exactly what he wants. He starts a record store, a label and a “black circle”.
Then we meet Kristian “Varg” Vikernes who is initially a “poser”, but who quickly develops into a maniac that practices what Euronymous only theorizes. Euronymous initially acts as he is the centre and inspiration of all it, which leads to more church burnings and even murder.
Later in the film Aarseth gets a girlfriend and starts to grow a consciousness alienating some of his friends, especially Vikernes who takes a drastic decision.
The film is not too good. Too much story has been tried to cram into a two hour film. Much detail apparently had to be skipped too. I only understood one murder because I already knew the story. Practically no bands are mentioned even though several bands circled around the Helvete shop. You will not really get a peek into the early ‘second wave’ black metal scene from Scandinavia. Like I said, this is mostly a story about Euronymous and what directly relates to him: Mayhem, the shop and his circle.
“Based on truth, lies and what actually happened”, so basically a film production with too little music, drama, lots of blood and some (apparently) original footage.