Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Until The Light Takes Us is a black metal documentary, released in 2008, which focuses heavily on the church burnings, murders, and suicide of Mayhem frontman Dead that occurred in the early 90's. It came to San Francisco recently, playing one night only at Yerba Buena Gardens before starting a run at the Roxie Theater in the Mission. Tickets are only 5 bucks a pop on Mondays, so me and Sweet Baby Jay decided to go check it out. Below you will find my notes on the film.

Anyone who is totally looking forward to seeing this movie and will be disappointed by spoilers might want to skip this post.

The trailer:

The reality:

The movie basically consisted of 45 minutes of interviews with Fenriz from Darkthrone (right) and 45 minutes of interviews with Varg Vikernes from Burzum (below left, shown with kitty friend), interspersed with a bunch of footage of Fenriz walking around. A couple other people are interviewed briefly (the dudes from Immortal, Hellhammer from Mayhem, and some douchey artist guy), in addition to overlong shots of the Norwegian countryside and a completely superfluous interlude involving "avant garde" filmmaker Harmony Korine.

The highlights:

- A vaguely amusing sequence featuring Frost from Satyricon riding on an airplane and then burning artwork, stabbing a couch, and cutting himself extensively -- all to polite applause from an audience of Italian art connissuers.
- That's about it, actually.

The lowlights:

- Varg explaining how chasing Euronymous down a stairwell and stabbing him to death was "self-defense".
- NO live concert footage besides a couple of choppy, seconds-long video clips of Mayhem and Darkthrone rehearsing in their basements.
- Several minutes of footage showing Fenriz walking around an art gallery looking at stuff.
- Several MORE minutes of footage of Fenriz sitting in bars, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.

The revelations:

- The guys from Immortal, when they're not decked out in stage gear (right), dress like extras from Blade.
- Fenriz has a neck-beard and listens to techno.
- Bard "Faust" Eithun, former Emperor and Mayhem drummer and convicted murderer, talks like a robot and only hangs out in really dark rooms.
- Norwegian prisons look like spaceships on the outside and your grandparents' house on the inside.

The diagnosis:

- Skip it. This is a story that everyone already knows, told through the eyes of ONE outsider and ONE participant. Too long and not very entertaining OR informative. I'm no huge fan of black metal, but I know enough to realize that this is a MUCH bigger and more interesting story than the filmmakers made it out to be. Only recommended to total basement-dwelling fanboy Nazis who think that Varg Vikernes is some sort of "misunderstood genius". Complete 'meh'. At leat Jay gave me half a Snickers bar, which prevented the night from being COMPLETELY pleasureless.

You're better off reading Lords of Chaos again. Just skip all the chapters about Varg.


Todd said...

Fenriz didn't say anything hilarious? In every Darkthrone interview I've read, he's said at least one thing that made me laugh out loud.

Shelby Cobras said...

I've seen and heard interviews like that, too. But he was pretty stiff in the movie. There was, like, one part that kind of made me giggle.

Mister Booze said...

That's weird because I would expect some really funny interviews like this one:


I really like this interview. Hilarious. "I'm into boring thrash".

Shelby Cobras said...

It's true. This movie was B-O-R-I-N-G. I expected more, to say the least.

Peter said...

I though the footage of him being interviewed in the movie was pretty funny too, although Im not sure if it was me laughing with him or at him...
Skipping the chapters with Varg in Lords of Chaos is definitely a good idea but that leaves something like a paragraph to read...

Anonymous said...

I wasn't expecting a comedy, but I thought it was funny in parts. I actually liked the movie a lot, it's very serious for the most part and shows something of the environment that kickstarted the whole thing. I thought the parts with Fenriz were great - not a huge fan of the music, but cool to see him just being a regular person and not a clown. I liked the art stuff, I believe it was making a point about them losing control and as Fenriz says at one point "I't's out there now. Everyone can use, like for comedy or whatever." Interesting. Nice to see a doc about a music scene that's about a little more than just what guitar someone uses and ridiculous posturing.

RyGar said...

The photos in the post are tops. I'm going to have to make them into a collage and hang it above my (non-existent) Black Metal altar.

ceeSTARR said...

Glad I missed it...I'm hungry for a snickers bar.

Gorgorgor said...

hohohohohohohohohohohohoho(evil laughs)

Illogical review said...

blogger, you certainly have a hard on for Varg, you just cant seem to stop mentioning his name. you might want to look into that obsession a bit?

Anonymous said...

I love these guys, but Fenriz hasn't been into black metal in ages, and Immortal has always a band apart. Their music isn’t anything like what we think of as black metal, and their image basically came about because they are Kiss fans. Varg has been changing his mind back and forth about black metal during his (way too long!) prison stint ... at one point he saw it as unacceptable negro music.

My point is that there wasn't ever a very unified black metal scene, and to the extent that there is one today these guys are not exactly in the middle of it. Why doesn’t a documentary filmmaker see this? American fanboys seem to be too caught up in their hero-worship, like the guys who follwed Gaahl up a local mountaintop and acted like they were risking their life climbing Mount Everest ... I seem to remember it was even raining at the time, yet they acted like it was so cold Gaahl tried to murder them by taking them outside. And now we get another one of these ”documentaries” that doesn’t tell you very much about reality but tries to fit everything, no matter how impossible, into the fanmyth.

Also, these guys are all active musicians today, and they will forever be interviewed by Americans about stuff that happened in 1991, 1992, 1993. I can’t imagine that’s much fun.