Black-Metal Documentary Sees the Light at Alamo Drafthouse This Weekend

Starting tonight and through weekend the Alamo Drafthouse (1000 W. Oaks Mall) will be screening the documentary Until The Light Takes Us, an unflinching look at the Norwegian black-metal scene from directors Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell. The film is recommended viewing for any and all music and true crime fans, especially metal worshippers.

The film centers on Burzum and Darkthrone, two of the most popular bands of the second wave of the genre. Featured prominently are two of the scene's biggest innovators Varg "Count Grishnackh" Vikernes of Burzum and Mayhem and Gylve Fenris Nagell, who still fronts Darkthrone. The film is extremely graphic in it's portrayal of the brutal acts that led to the increased scrutiny of the genre, including the shotgun suicide of Mayhem lead singer Dead.

A bandmate of Dead's, Euronymous, went to local store to buy a cheap camera to photograph the bloody scene for himself before alerting authorities. It was later rumored that he took fragments of the splattered brains and cooked them, but that was untrue. The story of Euronymous taking skull fragments and making necklaces out of the pieces was in fact very much a grim reality. The photo shown of the grisly scene is one that still haunts our memories.

Watching the documentary one can't help but feel sorry for these kids. Rocks Off didn't know it until he saw Until The Light Takes Us, but the ideology behind this wave of black metal was almost punk rock in its disdain for pop culture and traditional consumerism. Nagell talks of vandalizing various American food franchises in the film and generally being disgusted by what he and other musicians saw as an invasion of banality from the States into their home country. They all felt trapped and they found their salvation, however dangerous, in black metal.

Vikernes is interviewed in prison serving his sentence for the string of church burnings that he perpetrated in the early '90s in protest of Norway's strict religious mores and the murder of Euronymous in 1993. Vikernes was paroled in May from the detention facility and is now living a quiet life, serving sixteen years of his twenty-one year sentence. Sadly along the way in prison he also became a bit of a neo-Nazi and began writing scathing essays on eugenics and race mixing.

After you catch the film, be sure to pick up Michael Moynihan's excellent book, 1998's Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, which goes into greater detail on the figures and events that colored this bloody yet innovative genre of music.

Until the Light Takes Us screens at 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. See here for more details.

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