Thursday, August 11, 2011

Until the Light Takes Us (documentary)

I never knew much about the Norwegian Black Metal scene but had heard enough wild stories to be interested in learning more, so when this documentary popped up in Netflicks, I decided to check it out.

Black Metal started out much earlier than I imagined - in the 80's - and the originators are still revered to this day. Besides being an intense music genre that was the predecessor of the still-thriving Death Metal, it was also a philosophy and a way of life to many. This varies from extreme right-wing values such as white power, nationalism and anti-homosexuality to the other end of the spectrum with atheistic, pagan and anti-Christianity views. It was the former that caused much of the violence of the scene and the later that was the basis for the renown church burnings. Somehow this all fit together in the minds of some of these metal heads.

The film makers interview many of the originators, who speak frankly of one of their peers' suicide (a picture was taken of his brains spattered over the room which became an album cover - they thought it was too bad that he killed himself but at least they got some good photos!), of their violence (more than one murder is admitted to on film), and the burnings. Although I strongly disagree with the destruction of personal property, I can understand the latter as they are correct in saying that Christianity is the cause of much of the world's problems.

As it happens with many scenes, this one changed over time and is no longer what it originally was meant to be (including the additions of Satanic expressions - originally it was more Pagan and anti-Christian than Satanic) but many are still working in the genre - those who haven't been killed or are on the run.

This is a fascinating tale of extreme people whose music became their lifestyle - not unlike rap in some ways, though rap is less musical and sometimes even more violent - and how it transcended music to include politics, paranoia and anti-religious themes.