Original Title: Lords of Chaos
Country: Sweden, Norway
Director: Jonas Åkerlund
Release: 2018
Genre: Biography, Drama
Language: English

IMDb | Rotten Tomatoes

The birth of Black Metal, focusing on Mayhem and its founder Øystein Aarseth known as Euronymous.

My Musical Evolution

I briefly mentioned before, in the All Eyez on Me and Boyz n the Hood reviews, that during my adolescence I listened to a lot of Rap. I began with the commercial rap of the early 2000s then West Coast classics and some kind of underground things.

However, during college, while still listening to West Coast Rap, I opened to other genres of music. And in the last review published, I said that I liked uncomfortable music, that’s a little of we are about to talk in this review.

It was around 2012 when I discovered the Swedish band Ghost, and I don’t remember how exactly, everything evolved very quickly from that moment on. I just remember that in December of 2012 I was already very deep into Black Metal.

I began with bands Deathspell Omega, Urfaust, Peste Noire, Bathory, Burzum, Nargaroth. Lifelover, Silencer, and later I began a quest to expand my knowledge of the genre, focusing on the music, not anything else.

Lifelover live at Harry B James in Stockholm, Sweden.

To guide myself, I used the List Challenges website and complete almost every Black Metal list available and even created some lists (List 1, List 2). During this quest, I discovered amazing bands and some awful bands, the worst being Deafheaven.

I was always focused on the music and the feeling of most the songs, usually avoiding National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM), because I don’t like Nazis, but I got to be honest, it is not easy. The scene is plagued by Nazism, elitism, xenophobia, homophobia, white supremacy and a bunch of garbage of this kind.

When I began listening to Black Metal, I already had enough level of discernment and was not influenced by the bunch of garbage surrounding the Black Metal scene, but I believe that more vulnerable people might be seduced by some Nazi ideals, something like American History X (1998).

Black Metal to me is like Whisky, it is not for everyone (is a matter of taste, not of being better or worst than one another) and is an acquired taste. Currently, I listen to Norwegian Black Metal as well as Colombian Cumbia, the important is to feel good with whatever you’re listening to.

This is Real Black Metal!

Borrowing the phrase from the lyrics of Suicidal Metal Anthems by Nocturnal Depression, now we will talk about some important events during Black Metal’s troubled creation.

Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition (Extreme Metal)

The name of the genre originated from the second album of the Thrash Metal band Venom. Other early influences of the genre counted with Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Sarcófago, Bathory, Samael, and others.

Lords of Chaos director, Jonas Åkerlund, played drums for Bathory from 1983 to 1984. Later in the same decade, he began directing the first video of Swedish Doom Metal band Candlemass, for the song Bewitched, featuring Mayhem’s Pelle Ohlin, before he joined Mayhem.

Back to Black Metal. The Norwegian scene is called the Second Wave, with bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, Emperor, and many others. One of my favorites of this time, with less notoriety than the others, is Arcturus.

Mayhem: Dead, Hellhammer, Euronymous & Necrobutcher

During this moment in time, the first big event was Dead’s (Pelle Ohlin) suicide in 1991, portrayed very graphically in the movie. Like in the movie, he cut his wrists and throat, wrote a brief letter apologizing for all the blood and then shot himself in the head.

Pelle moved from Sweden to Norway just to be Mayhem’s vocals, he couldn’t speak Norwegian, so he only communicated with his band members in English. He was introverted and bullied, especially by Euronymous, and even though he was always fascinated by death, this might have pushed him to suicide.

In August 1992 Bård Eithun, known as Faust, killed Magne Andreassen for kicks. He stabbed the man 37 times, the crime was initially considered a hate crime because Andreassen was a gay man, however, I’m not sure if homophobia was the actual reason for the crime.

Throughout the first half of the ’90s, many churches were burned in Norway, many are believed to be committed by the youngsters in the local Black Metal scene. Varg Vikernes was always the main suspect for much of these crimes and was convicted for some.

Movie version of a Mayhem concert

Talking about Varg, also known as Count Grishnackh, now legally known as Louis Cachet, he was probably the worst of them all and still is. He is a closet Neo-nazi, and cannot keep his bizarre views to himself.

Vikernes killed Euronymous in 1993, stabbing him 23 times (most in the back), claiming to be in self-defense. He served 15 years for the murder, burning down three churches, attempting to burn down another and for the possession of 150 kg of explosives.

Varg might be the worst scum in the scene and I have no sympathy for him whatsoever, but his music is also my favorite from this period.

The murder of Euronymous was the end of the many events happening during the foundation of the Black Metal scene that began with them in Norway and later spread to most of the world.

Lords of Chaos

Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth (Rory Culkin) is the narrator and main character of the movie, and one of the first things we see is a photo of Euronymous with his parents and younger sister.

Lords Of Chaos [Blu-ray]

Euronymous played guitar for a band he formed with two other young lads, Jørn “Necrobutcher” Stubberud (Jonathan Barnwell) on bass and Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg (Anthony De La Torre) on drums. But they still needed a Front Man.

That is where Per Yngve Ohlin (Jack Kilmer, son of Val Kilmer), stage name Dead, enters. Often called Pelle, the Swedish in his early twenties was obsessed with death after a near-death experience.

With the addition of Pelle, Mayhem was formed and began doing concerts, gaining relative notoriety. Their concerts were had very dark aesthetic, with pig’s heads on spikes and Dead cutting himself, sometimes very deeply.

Euronymous (Rory Culkin)

Before the band could record a studio album, Dead committed suicide, as I mentioned before. The scene of his suicide is very graphic and gruesome, and I didn’t know what to think about it, because I criticized when 13 Reasons Why showed the depiction of suicide.

My understanding is that the public is drastically different, 13 Reasons Why audience is children and teenagers even though is considered to mature audiences, while Lords of Chaos is an R rated movie about very disturbing real events.

After Pelle’s death, Euronymous takes pictures of his dead body, even posing him with the knife and gun close of his body. Euronymous intention was making Mayhem even famous, but his plan backfired and made Necrobutcher quit the band.

Shortly after, Euronymous opened Helvete, a shop where the people surrounding the Black Metal scene hung out. Is in this shop the Varg Vikernes (Emory Cohen) ultimately enters the story, always competing with Euronymous.

Dead (Jack Kilmer)

I think that’s enough to talk about how the movie portrays the events. The director Jonas Åkerlund took some artistic liberties, of course, that made the purists mad, a lot of people have a romantic idea about this period of Black Metal and got mad if anything goes against this romantic view.

Varg is one of those people, he couldn’t stop talking about how the movie is inaccurate and such. One of the things he got mad was it the fictitious character Ann-Marit (Sky Ferreira), Euronymous’ girlfriend because they suspected Euronymous was gay.

I don’t know if Euronymous was gay or not, but I think Vikernes is the kind of people that think calling someone gay is an offense and he wanted to offend Euronymous even after his death.

As usual, the thing I liked the most about this movie was visual, with great and beautiful cinematography, the burning of churches being particularly beautiful. The slightly desaturated colors are perfect, matching the cold feel of Black Metal but with enough color to feel real.

Varg Vikernes (Emory Cohen)

The cast is really good, and I knew previously three of the actors. The first being Rory Culkin from Signs (2002), Sam Coleman Game of Thrones (as young Hodor) and Emory Cohen from the amazing The Place Beyond the Pines (2012).

Not only was the cast good, but their acting was really good as well, nothing crazy, but I saw a lot of people saying that the acting was bad and I disagree. Rory Culkin and Emory Cohen are great in the roles.

One thing I did not expect was the humor, the movie has many fun moments, like parties, concerts, recordings, sex and also have many funny moments, especially about Varg’s stupidity and awkwardness, a lot of it thanks to Cohen’s performance.

The movie captured one thing that is often ignored when we talk about this story, they were young and immature boys. They raise to fame and committed crimes in a story that ended up tragic, but still, the fact remains that they were very young.

That beginning with the photo of Euronymous and his family demonstrates this aspect, he as a young man, someone who had a normal family, had financial help from his father to realize his dreams. He was 16 when he founded Mayhem and only 25 when he died, in this nine years he developed the Black Metal how we came to know it.

This depiction of the characters as young people is what must have made some people angry. They always saw their idols as ethereal figures, always gloomy and making whatever they think Satanists do, while in reality and the movie, they are portrayed as just people, young and doing not-so-smart things.

Comparing to another biographical movie about a musician, to me Lords of Chaos is better than Bohemian Rhapsody, not just because I never liked Queen, but many other things I might talk about in a review dedicated only to Bohemian Rhapsody (2018).

For someone who doesn’t like Black Metal, Lords of Chaos might be a mediocre movie about a sequence of tragedies in Norway, while to me this movie is what The Avengers (2012) was to comic book fans: The realization of the thing we have been waiting forever to see on screen. 8 Moons.

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