At a young age, as my love of horror films grew, so, too, did my love of aggressive music. Metal was always a common interest of my school friends and I, and the more we listened, the deeper we would dig for the next, bigger and better band or album. This led us down the rabbit hole of black metal and its founding fathers. Fast forward many years and I am now lead on another, very closely related part of that same journey with Jonas Akerlund’s Lords of Chaos.
Oystein Aarseth is the founding member of the metal band Mayhem. Known to the black metal community as Euronymous, Aarseth not only set the bar, but constantly raised it, defining what true Norwegian Black Metal was all about. His young life and career was full of celebrity, chaos, and death.
Just as horror movie lovers, metalheads don’t ever seem content with the same old thing. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to learn about new sub-genres of heavy music, new bands, and quite frankly, their entire background and history. This eventually lead me down the path of black metal and the pioneers who birthed its most evil incarnation — Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor, and more.
Based on the book of the same title, Lords of Chaos gives longtime fans a glimpse into the chaotic lives of the early Norwegian Black Metal scene’s greatest contributors. Anyone who has ever called themselves a fan of the genre is aware of the names Euronymous, ‘The Count’ Varg Vikernes, Dead, and mostly everyone else who surrounded these infamous musicians.
Who the hell were these seemingly out of control bands and how did all of the church burnings, murders, and suicides really all play into the actual music being created by them? Lords of Chaos does a remarkable job of shedding some light on the insane events that I grew up reading about on the internet.
I remember watching the trailer for Lords of Chaos some time ago and seeing many familiar faces. I was shocked. Not by the amount of actors that I had recognized, but by the fact that they were all American. Not only that, but they were using very distinctive American accents, as well. How could a film about the “true” Norwegian black metal scene contain anything but true Norwegian natives or at least actors that spoke the language or with the particular accent?
Luckily, I was able to get past this aspect of the film’s casting; Within 20 minutes or so, I completely forgot that this ever seemed to be a problem to me and was just so enthralled by what I was seeing. The amount of despair and destruction that went on in the lives of these young men is so fascinating and quite sad. With that said, the entire cast did a wonderful job acting out these obscene events.
Rory Culkin (Signs, Scream 4) leads a very talented cast of young actors throughout Lords of Chaos‘ 118 minutes (the length of the uncensored director’s cut). As Mayhem’s lead guitarist and founding member, Euronymous, Culkin is hypnotizing. There was not one second that I thought of him as just an actor playing a part. I truly felt as if I was watching and listening to Euronymous tell his unbelievable story.
Add a great talent like Emory Cohen (The Place Beyond the Pines) and second generation actors, Jack Kilmer and Valter Skarsgard, among others, and you have yourself a very convincing cast.
Somewhere deep in my psyche, my teenage self is in shock and awe over the fact that a feature film about the history of Norwegian Black Metal and the godfathers who created it all exists in 2019.
If there is any filmmaker who can do a story of this magnitude and subject matter justice, it is co-writer and director Jonas Akerlund. Hailing from Sweden, the man has not only been involved in film making for many years, but he was also the original drummer for the black metal band Bathory. If that doesn’t qualify him as the best candidate to helm a movie version of Lords of Chaos, I don’t know what does.
This film is very entertaining and quite explicit at times. Anyone who is watching this film as a straight up horror flick for gore and the like will be satisfied at the more gruesome scenes of debauchery. The worst to sit threw is, of course, the graphic suicide of original Mayhem vocalists Pelle “Dead” Ohlin.
Lords of Chaos is a great watch; Not only would I recommend it to all the metalheads out there, but also to anyone who wants to watch a good horror flick that happens to be based on true events.
The film will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from Unobstructed View on Tuesday, May 28. Be sure to grab this limited edition combo pack before it passes you by.
I give this film 4.5 burning churches out of 5.