If you were hoping to see the film Lords of Chaos, you actually got a look at an extended trailer for it via Metallica’s “ManUNkind” video back in 2016. Based on the 1998 book Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, which is a history of Norwegian black metal, it’s pissed metal fans off since it was announced. Directed by Jonas Akerlund, who himself spent time as the drummer of Bathory, a sanitized version of the stave church burnings, the drama that took place with Mayhem, and the beginnings of an underground genre sanitized for mass consumption doesn’t seem like it will end well, and Mayhem themselves are skeptical at best.
Regardless, it’s finished and premiering at Sundance this week. The movie poster is out, and well, it looks kind of cool at least. The image of a burning church is reminiscent of the book cover, and the movie title has an appropriately black metal logo-looking font. Of note is that Sigur Ros is scoring the film. Obviously, the original bands aren’t about to license their music, and while it will still be interesting to see how they work around the actual music being played in the film, hiring the Icelandic post-rock band to soundtrack the film should give Akerlund’s imagery an surreal quality. While not “heavy” in the traditional sense of the word, there’s lots of tension and dynamics in the band’s sound.
Here’s what Sigur Ros’ Georg Holm says of scoring the film:
Jonas approached us about LoC not long after he’d made the video for “Óveður.” He wanted a full new score, but had “temped” the scenes with music from across our catalogue. We watched the movie and I immediately felt like it was the kind of thing I would have loved myself as a teenager. Being from “The North” we were all familiar with the Mayhem story, and to a greater or lesser extent had had a Black Metal moment. We thought our music as it was synched to picture was already pretty much already doing the job, so we just suggested that we go back to the original tapes of what were sometimes very old songs and adapt them into new and original cues.
I think Jonas liked the way the low-fi-ness of Mayhem’s music and brutality of their story juxtaposed with people’s perceptions of Sigur Rós. In the end, he used music from every Sigur Rós album, with a whole bunch drawn from Von and Valtari. The movie definitely won’t be for everybody, but it is an amazing and frankly awful tale… and like Mayhem themselves it has all the hallmarks of becoming some kind of cult.
We can expect to see the film later this year. It will be interesting to hear what Sundance thinks of it.