Metal this week: 'Lords of Chaos' sends shockwaves through the music community

Jonas Akerlund dives head first into the contentious, oppressive situation.

You may have recently read my feature interview with Jonas Akerlund – the writer and director of the feature film Lords of Chaos, as well as former drummer of Bathory, and music video director for Lady Gaga and Madonna. You also may not have, in which case, I suggest going back and having a quick catch up. Either way, the stories of the bands Mayhem, Burzum, and the sound and movement that is true Norwegian black metal have been immortalised beyond the real-life legacy of suicide, murder, and 50+ church burnings in Norway in the mid-'90s. On the weekend just past, myself and approximately 450 other metalheads and curious onlookers attended the double premiere Australian screenings at Cinema Nova as a part of the Monster Film Fest, and it was such a treat.
My interest in the story of Euronymous and Count Grishnackh has been more or less obsessive since I bought and read the book Lords of Chaos – a non-fiction cult classic surrounding the same events – when I was but a teenager. I must admit that my interest is certainly more in the legacy of these characters, and the fact that all of this absolute madness actually happened, than the music itself. Though I was buzzing after seeing the movie all I wanted to listen to was Mayhem, and I’ve seen them live several times, it is somewhat rare for me to sit down and endure an entire record of theirs. Similarly with Burzum – I truly think that apart from a few special moments in time, most of Varg’s catalogue is forgettable garbage. I get down with Emperor sometimes but I don’t really care for Darkthrone. Does this make me a poser? Probably, but at the same time I am certain that I know more of the violent, blasphemous details surrounding the early Norwegian black metal scene than 98% of everyone I know.
Seeing these events brought to life on the big screen has been strangely rewarding – almost like years of unwittingly being personally invested in the story have paid off. It feels like a validation of my entire subculture – one done with a few knowing winks and cheeky jabs at the juvenile and absurd nature of it all, but nonetheless executed with full understanding, respect and historical accuracy. The movie is one of extremes – tearful moments that filled me with weighted empathy, gags that had the entire cinema erupting with laughter, and violence so visceral that I just needed to look away. Watching it for the second time around in the cinema, surrounded by fellow metalheads, was much more satisfying than my first solo stream on my laptop at home. This movie has faced years of harsh, pre-emptive criticism from many disciples of black metal, and it makes me really happy to report that the reviews from everyone there were almost entirely positive. It is now up there amongst my favourite films of all time. Keep an eye out for when Lords of Chaos gets its full cinematic release in 2019.