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Articles Home » Music Reviews » Lords of Chaos Movie Review by Allyson Kingsley
Lords of Chaos Movie Review by Allyson Kingsley

Lords of Chaos

Movie Review by Allyson Kingsley, Music Journalist

Boston Rock Radio

Directed by: Jonas Åkerlund

Producer: Jack Arbuthnott

Released in the US by Gunpowder & Sky on 2/8/2019


Rory Culkin: Euronymous

Emory Cohen: Varg

Jack Kilmer: Dead

Valter Skargård: Faust

Sam Coleman: Metalion

Anthony De La Torre: Hellhammer

Jonathan Barnwell: Necrobutcher

Sky Ferraira: Ann-Marit


“Finally!” was the first thing I thought to myself when I first had an inkling that this was coming out. I was beyond excited because I fell in love with the black metal scene long before Behemoth and Watain and such grew in “popularity.” I was neck deep in the tape trading/letter exchanging glory days of the early 90s when everyone else was wrapped up in Nirvana. Not that there's anything wrong with that at all. I had 3rd, 4th, 5th generation tape recordings of live performances from all around Europe, letters that I had to march down to the library to translate from Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Polish, you name it (no Google Translate back then) and of course, the underground fanzines of the most extreme metal that existed at the time. I didn't actually partake in the burning of churches (dammit) but I learned of them through the letters and zines as they were happening. And of course, there was the MUSIC; fucking stuff that was beyond raw and so visceral they would make your grandma's panties bunch up. So what is my point in this introduction?

I've seen the massive criticism that Åkerlund has been receiving on social media in regards to this movie, even from a key influence of the Norwegian black metal scene, Varg Vikernes himself. And I can't for the life of me understand why. Lords of Chaos is not meant to be a documentary; it is a dramatization based on the events. A small part of a larger whole. I won't delve into the story behind the characters in the movie or what happened because so many versions are written in magazines, on the web, and the book Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground (1998, by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlund, Feral House U.S.) of which the movie was based. So do some research and piece the “real story” together for yourselves. It is nothing in comparison to the events lived out by the actual people involved in the scene (Dead, Faust, Euronymous, etc). As the preface states in the opening of the movie- “Based on truth, lies and what actually happened.” It is the director Åkerlund’s artistic take on the events and I found it to my liking.

Some of this is certainly disturbing to watch, the suicide scene, the self-mutilation scenes, the abuse of groupies, and for some the church burnings, but we must remember that some kids barely breathing down the neck of adulthood took an ideal and lived it to the extreme. Sound familiar? Teens are by nature impulsive and wrapped so much in their own world that sometimes consequences do not matter, nor do they have the foresight of future consequences. Lords of Chaos is not so much about the foundation of the Norwegian black metal scene but more about the relationship between these characters and what led to it getting out of hand.

The cinematography is nothing short of excellent and the cast fully delved into their characters.  It is shocking, it is chaotic, and captures a small part of what made metal so “evil” back then. Even today, the ignorant will say, “You like metal? Do you burn churches and stuff?” See what I mean, those burning times had an impact. So I raise my metal horns to this genius movie and embrace the nostalgia that it stirred in me.



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