lords of chaosGunpowder & Sky

Oslo, 1987. 17-year-old Euronymous is determined to escape his traditional upbringing and becomes fixated on creating ‘true Norwegian black metal’ with his band Mayhem. He mounts shocking publicity stunts to put the band’s name on the map, but the lines between show and reality start to blur. Arson, violence and a vicious murder shock the nation that is under siege by these Lords of Chaos.

Black Metal is such an interesting and entertaining genre. It’s an acquired taste, to be sure, and to get involved with the scene takes a special type to withstand the intensity levels it can get to. Me, I can never be considered Trve Kvlt due to the fact that A) I’m a professing Christian, and B) I have a sense of humor. Also, I do enjoy a good Scorpions song from time to time. If you get the reference, then you’ve already enjoyed this particular biopic about one of the more infamous scenes in metal, Lords Of Chaos.

Ostensibly, Lords Of Chaos is based on the book of the same name, which chronicles the rise of the Norwegian Black Metal scene in the 80s and early 90s, specifically focusing on the Black Metal Circle and the band Mayhem and its two key figures, Euronymous and Varg Vikernes, and they *ahem* mayhem they caused while trying to one-up each other. And that pretty much boils down the whole second-wave Black Metal scene: A bunch of rich Norwegian kids trying to outdo each other with their evil posturing and production of crappy evil sounding music, all the while whining about posers and taking things way too seriously.

Lords Of Chaos, the movie, focuses on this brief window in time, going through Euronymous forming the band Mayhem, the suicide of their first vocalist Dead, the opening of his record shop Helvete and the formation of the “Black Circle” with members of other local Black Metal bands, his rivalry with Varg, the arson of several churches, and finally wholesale murder, including Euronymous’ at the hands of Varg. All of which is narrated by Euronymous’ own inner monologue, American Beauty style.

First and foremost, let me get this out of the way: I realize that Lords Of Chaos isn’t 100% accurate to how things went down. But, the movie itself admits to this at the very beginning; if you’re familiar with the book, or just the whole Black Metal scene itself, no one can get their stories straight. What Lords Of Chaos is, is more of a Natural Born Killers style psychological horror movie with some very dark humor tinting things.

See, the thing about the Black Metal scene is, everyone is so serious that they don’t realize how hilarious it all is. And Lords Of Chaos manages to get that perfectly. It really does subtly take the air out of the over-bloated ego of the scene, while still maintaining a certain respect for the series of events that transpired. Mind you, there were some artistic licence used, especially in scenes where no one was really there to know what really went on, like with Dead’s suicide, or what was going on in Euronymous’s head.

Lending to the feel of this being more of a legend rather than a fact-filled docu-drama is the actors using American accents, with the only Norwegian accent I could detect were from the reporter who interviews Varg, and the guy who played Faust’s murder victim. It works, really. All of the actors worked well, especially Rory Culkin as Euronymous. Fantastic performance, methinks. Also, the style of shooting used reminded me of Edgar Wright, managing to capture the manic craziness of the era, there. That includes a lot of gore and unflinching violence, among other rather graphic content, that typified the scene. That may make some unaware soul queasy. You’ve been warned.

Overall, I rather enjoyed Lords Of Chaos. This was one movie I was looking forward to watching since hearing about it being produced a year or so ago. It didn’t make it to the theaters in my neck of the woods when it was finally released; by the time it did get a showing at the Alamo, the VOD was already released and I watched it that way. Still, I enjoyed the movie for what it is. Take this with a grain of salt, like I do with movies like Oliver Stone’s The Doors, or the recent Queen bio-flick Bohemian Rhapsody. Corpse paint is optional.