Hype and all that comes with it is a curious mistress to any fandom. It can take an unknown band in a tiny European country and create a global music phenomenon. It also can help eat the subject of it from the inside out. This is not only a microcosm of the rise of first-wave Norwegian Black Metal, but also the movie Lords of Chaos directed by Jonas Åkerlund (Gunpowder Sky, Vice Media/Insurgent Media, 20th Century Fox, Scott Free Productions). We’ve heard about this movie for so long, that I’m sure that some have very high expectations for this film. The film also has its many detractors as protectors of their genre, and those who never wanted to see this film made. We’re not going to use this review to retell the story we’ve all seen and heard before, but rather rate the merits of this film. Continue reading
Lords of Chaos, the upcoming film based on the (un)popular book about the early history of the original Black Metal scene in Norway has made its debut at limited screenings worldwide and will be available On Demand on February 22nd. A special screening was held last night in Brooklyn at Alamo Draft House, with a Q and A following with director and one-time Bathory drummer Jonas Åkerlund, and co-stars Rory Culkin and Emory Cohen. Åkerlund is well known for stunning videos by Metallica, Lady Gaga, and Rammstein and his own short films, and commercials. He spearheaded the project along with Gunpowder and Sky and is co-produced by VICE Studios, 20th Century Fox, Scott Free Productions and Insurgent Media. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and currently holds a 75% fresh rating over on Rotten Tomatoes, down from a high of 91% so far. Watch trailers below. Continue reading
Lords of Chaos, the upcoming film based on the popular book about the early history of the original Black Metal scene in Norway hits theaters and On Demand early next month. The film has its first full trailer and it’s, …uh interesting. As in it looks somewhat compelling if you know the story, but also sadly a little campy. Maybe that is the way to market black metal to a mass film going public, but we’re really hoping it’s not too tongue in cheek. Starring Rory Culkin (Castle Rock, Sneaky Pete, Metallica’s Man Unkind, The Zodiac), Lords of Chaos was directed by Swedish filmmaker and one-time Bathory drummer Jonas Åkerlund, also known for videos by Metallica and Rammstein spearheaded the project along with Gunpowder and Sky and is co-produced by VICE Studios, 20th Century Fox, Scott Free Productions and Insurgent Media. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and currently holds a 92% fresh rating over on Rotten Tomatoes, so far. Watch the full trailer below. Continue reading
Long in the making film Lords of Chaos, based on the popular book about the early history of the original Black Metal scene in Norway will finally hit theaters and On Demand on February 8th 2019. Directed by Swedish filmmaker and one-time Bathory drummer Jonas Åkerlund, also known for videos by Metallica and Rammstein spearheaded the project along with Gunpowder and Sky, and is co-produced by VICE Studios, 20th Century Fox, Scott Free Productions and Insurgent Media. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and currently holds a 91% fresh rating over on Rotten Tomatoes. Watch the trailer below. Continue reading
For a band called Frozen in Shadows, you’d be forgiven for the expectation they might takes things somewhat slowly, no chance. Officially announcing they exist a mere two weeks ago, they’ve wasted no time in self-releasing their five-track debut, and announcing themselves for Badgerfest in October. Somewhat of a Manchester (UK) underground ‘supergroup’ they were formed by members/ex-members of local stalwarts Footprints in the Custard, Impavidus, Prognosis, Godhand and Vice. Continue reading
German band Varg (meaning wolf in Norwegian and Swedish, no relation to Burzum) return with their fifth opus The End of All Lies (Napalm Records), and are leading the resistance with their politically charged anti-fascist themed metal. Often referred to as wolf metal (I have no idea what that is either) it is difficult to neatly slot them into a singular genre, black/death/Viking/pagan/folk metal influences all emerge. Recorded in both English and German, The End of All Lies is an attack on political leaders exposing them as ‘false prophets and seducers’, a commendable angle that makes for a passionate delivery.
Charlie Chaplin’s infamous The Great Dictator speech initiates their uprising before title track ‘The End of All Lies’ ferociously emerges with the opening lyric “This day will be your apocalypse, we slit the throats of the liars.” Animosity is instilled throughout, presented with passion and undeniable conviction. The array of genres are evident, ‘Streyfzug’ and ‘Einherjer’ outline a folk/pagan influence with clean vocals and rousing choruses delivered with pride and belief. The death metal elements are certainly the most prominent; particularly in ‘Winterstorm’ which reflects their more extreme side with fast paced riffs and pummeling double-kick drum.
The extreme vocals are akin to At The Gates front man Tomas Lindberg, while the clean and choral vocal segments imbue a catchy element whilst adding diversity to the aggressive onslaught. Female vocals in ‘The Dance of Death’ shouldn’t work alongside such extremity, yet do in perfect cohesion with Freki’s snarl, resulting in the strongest track of the album.
This is an adrenaline-fueled, chest beating, passion-filled album, bursting with vigour and catchy choruses that has potential for killer live performances. Perhaps it will border on cheesy for some, clearly appealing to leather clad, face painted metal heads equipped with a plastic sword and drinking horn. Regardless, a victorious battle for the German wolf pack.
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The last stop on this year’s Paganfest America tour was Worcester, MA, in the tiny upstairs portion of The Palladium. With a lineup consisting of the Finnish darlings Korpiklaani and Turisas, Taiwan’s Chthonic, Germany’s VARG, and Cincinnati’s own Winterhymn, it was bound to be an excellent way to spend a Sunday night.
Wait a minute. A folk metal band…from Ohio? It’s true! If you’re like me, you’re used to folk metal coming from European countries but Winterhymn plays the part well, violin and all. It may have been the last show of the tour but they played as though it were the very first and the crowd danced and drank along with every song. Even their tour mates in VARG got involved when they came onstage to prank the band by slathering them in fake blood in the middle of their set. All in all, it was a job well done.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: I love Germans and I probably shouldn’t be allowed into their country unsupervised. That said, how did I feel about VARG? I loved them too and judging by the crowd’s reaction, they agreed with me. I had heard of this band in passing but this was my first time actually being exposed to their music. One of the highlights of the evening was when Winterhymn came back out to stage dive and crowd surf near the end of VARG’s set. They were the heaviest band on the bill and easily wound up sneaking into my number two spot because of this. They were loud, energetic, and perhaps even a tad intimidating. I would love to see them again in the future.
The third band on the bill was Chthonic. Their sound seemed a bit out of place compared to the other bands. It was bit too monotonous for my taste but they were visually interesting. Chthonic was using screens and lights in an area where most bands choose to not to simply due to the lack of space for anything, but the musicians themselves. Overall, they weren’t bad but they also didn’t wow me either. I didn’t have a very strong opinion either way after this performance but I am willing to give them another shot the next time they come Stateside.
I have to be completely honest and say that the reason that I even went to this show in the first place was specifically to see Turisas again. If you have never had a chance to see them live, you can usually pick out fans in the crowd by their red and black war paint. There were more crowd surfers during Turisas’ set than any other band but it was their closing song that really took the cake. Sure, they have a ton of great original material but everyone and their mom has a huge soft spot for their cover of Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’. The band pulled over a dozen people up on stage to dance and sing along with them. It was a great way to end things and I’m glad that years of demanding to have that song played has finally paid off.
Headliners Korpiklaani seemed a bit more subdued than the last time I had seen them. I was expecting lots of dancing and men resembling wizards making strange hand gestures. The typical playful banter was instead replaced with their brand of face melting folk metal. Korpiklaani definitely put on a top notch show and things were significantly less boozy until the band ended with ‘Happy Little Boozer’ and we danced with our Jager Bombs held up high. It was a mess. It was interesting to see a group that I usually consider more of a “party band” take a different approach and I believe it worked well. Could this be a sign of things to come? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what these Finns have into store for us next.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t enjoyed attending a Paganfest show. From the great lineups bursting at the seams with incredible talent to fellow fans dressed in full Viking garb, these events are not to be missed and grow in size every year. Here’s hoping Paganfest 2015 gets moved downstairs so we can get some real dancing in.
WORDS BY ALEIDA LA LLAVE
For those in the know, Finnish quintet Oranssi Pazuzu have been one of the most exciting and talked about bands operating in the labyrinth depths of the black metal underground; their borderline unpronounceable name and freakishly weird take on an established sound has been a tonic to those left cold by the standard blood n’ puke splattered fare from the Land of a Thousand Lakes. 2013 sees the release of third album Valonielu (Svart Records) which in the words of the band themselves may well make good of their stated aim of making music “that invites all the arsonists and smokers to hold hands.”
The psychedelic element to Oranssi Pazuzu’s sound has always sat comfortably with their harder black metal basis, and these two forces weave and combine to great effect throughout the entirety of “Valonielu.” Opening track ‘Vino Verso’ is built around a repetitive mid-paced riff that you may find on a Satyricon B-side; clinical and basic, but it’s the swirling electronica that settles like a narcotic-infused miasma on the listener’s mind; the distorted Theremin creating a creepy, spacy atmosphere that elevates the track into something else altogether. The wandering bassline and rushing synth swells of ‘Tyhjä Temppeli’ take things to an even weirder plateau where warped prog structures meet harsh, strangulated vocals, minus guitars of course. At this point in time, reality already appears to be collapsing in on itself.
Languid dissonance is the order of the day on ‘Uraanisula’, again making use of repetition and eerie keyboards over the course of twelve increasingly harrowing minutes. This could be what happened if Pink Floyd had discovered a copy of the Necronomicon and decided to smoke the pages. The pace increases for the final few minutes with a jagged riff suggesting something truly unholy has been summoned as you feel your mind cracking under the onslaught, not helped by the nightmarish psychedelic vibe that seems to keep finding new ways to antagonise your ears.
Nerves are further frayed by the restless, swirling tones of instrumental Reikä Maisemassa’ and the dense, driving riffs of ‘Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silmän’, the latter of which finally throws in a bit of tremolo picking. It doesn’t last long however, as kaleidoscopic prog rhythms drench proceedings in awesome, alien murk once more. We finish off with a few moments of serenity at the beginning of ‘Ympyrä On Viiva Tomussa’ before a shimmering wall of noise hits home and we are off into the void again, flying helplessly away from earth and sanity. The pounding riff and other assorted noises could have been written by Beherit if they practised in a cave daubed by ancient astronaut hieroglyphs whilst off their tits on peyote and rum, and just in case you’re curious, that’s a good thing.
With Valonielu, Oranssi Pazuzu deserve to join the hallowed ranks of the weird that operate on the fringes of black metal, such as The Meads of Asphodel and A Forest of Stars. The level of originality, avant-garde oddness and raw talent is enough to render the panda-painted orthodox brigade as relevant as whatever Varg Vikernes writes on his blog these days. Is it black metal? Who knows what it is, and who cares? It’s in here now, with us, and that’s all that matters.