Not actually about Parliament and the squabbling over Brexit but Lords of Chaos is a true story about the Norwegian black metal music genre. Well we say music as it appears that screaming down a microphone shouting nonsense like Diane Abbot addressing a momentum rally is what constitutes the genre. It’s little surprise that you never see this as a karoake night unless you count our Editor’s attempts at The Nags Head on a Friday night (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed). Black Metal originated in Norway and seems to have become world famous in Oslo only…. until the events of the band Mayhem unfolded.
Writer director Jonas Akerkund has made a name for himself with many influential videos that have included Madonna’s Ray of Light and most notably The Prodigy’s controversial video for ‘Smack my Bitch up’ so he probably has a unique insight to the comically ludicrous aspects of the music industry which he ploughs expertly here in the first half which promises to make this the Spinal Tap of Black Metal but then it changes…..and boy does it change! With Euronymous (Rory Culkin) having recruited a lead singer who calls himself Dead, obsessed with death and presenting self mutilation on stage as entertainment (which is probably little different from Gemma Collins trying to convince a shop sales assistant that she can get that she can fit into a size 10 dress). Living in a house where ‘Dead’ strings up dead cats as decorations it’s clear that he‘s not right and the tone takes a dramatically grim turn when he graphically commits suicide……..now at the point we feel we should make you aware of a bit of a first for us here at AnyGoodFilms. Having seen hundreds of films over the years we’ve seen plenty of unsavoury on screen shenanigans bit we’ve never sat in a preview screening where one of the audience have passed out and had to be escorted from the screening room which is what happen at this point in the film.
With the band now, mercifully for the rest of us, without a singer they recruit a new band member ironically named Christian who has now given himself the daft moniker of Varg (Emory Cohen). At the same time Euronymous has opened a black metal record shop to assist finance their albums of caterwauling to which Varg contributes with funding from his parents and in the basement of the shop the band gather with their inner circle of fans. It’s here that Varg feels that the band must push their demonic ideology further and off his own bat he decides to start burning down churches which he sets about like he’s…wel….. possessed. It’s the starts of a rivalry between him and Euronymous who claims that it was him who gave Varg the idea much to Varg’s disdain and it instigates the others to do their bit for Satan culminating in one of the band’s brutal knife murder of a gay man.
Akerlund’s film is unflinching in its depiction of the violence that the band members perpetrate and the three scenes of violence that punctuate the film are an uncomfortable watch and it leaves you feeling a little soiled from having seen what the band do in the name of Beelzebub and the consequences of their actions. The scenes are sustained and rightly horrifying setting your teeth on edge as they are played out in real time rather than any flashy glamourized Hollywood – isation. It’s both comic and tragic that when Varg goes to the press to claim ownership of the catalogue of church burning a journalist runs rings round him and yet police are unable to pin anything on him ultimately serving only to get the band publicity.
Lords of Chaos is gruesomely grim and tragically sad true story about wasted lives about Norwegian youths in trying to outdo and out gross each other whilst wearing face paint that makes them look like a cut price kiddie’s Kiss with Varg & Euronymous both pasty faced who, rather than looking like Gene Simmons and co, look more like an underfinanced Bill Hicks & Steve Buscemi tribute act.
Lords of Chaos is an utterly compelling true life story but the violence, when it comes, is remorseless and unflinching perhaps rightly so as a warning that the lifestyle of live fast, die young may be all very rock and roll but not like this.
Here’s the Lords of Chaos trailer…….