I interviewed Black Sabbath’s most underappreciated vocalist, the great Tony Martin once years ago. A real thrill. I forget the exact question, something about reconciling the more evil songs with the ones with subtle Christian themes or something. I remember Tony taking the wind out of my sails like a pro and sort of gently needling me with the common sense revelation that a lot of heavy metal is theater. This doesn’t mean that some people don’t live it to the fullest (the proper way to do so being highly debated daily since forever across sub-genres) and that it isn’t a genuine source of being able to work out dark and light feelings and to suss out solutions for yourself that hopefully aren’t ‘suicide solutions’, etc.
I saw two movies last night amidst a snowstorm on Fandango Now (a pretty great service). Jonas Akerlund’s take on the controversial Lords of Chaos and the somewhat slept on, but I thought fucking fantastic, Mary Queen Of Scots (2018). Both took some historical liberties – LOC glosses over the singers before Dead and the Deathcrush-era to get to meatier terrain and Mary Queen Of Scots fabricates an incredible in person meeting between Mary and Elizabeth that I wish really happened and (plausibility points to the writer) Elizabeth DOES tell Mary never to speak of it, so who knows? Both also feature violent stabbing scenes of a queer person. I was expecting it in Lords Of Chaos and the movie makes it very graphic, disturbing and not lightly glossed over – thankfully. You know at that point beyond a doubt that part of the souls of these people are very broken. David Rizzio in Mary Queen Of Scots came as a shock since I had forgotten about him historically. Like, fuckin’ hell, another poor murdered innocent for the sake of sick designs?!
Look, I think it is fine Lords Of Chaos is a movie. I was against it at some points but as edgelordery under Trump is worse than ever and there are no sacred cows generally worthy of enabling any cult of personality from critique, fuck it. It was a milestone time period in metal so why shouldn’t it be examined? The thrust though is will it seem apologist and MTV stuff that was meant to be less palatable or fast edit flashy and romanticized or would it have some bite and objectively show the shittiness of a lot of what happened? Thankfully, I liked a lot more about it than I disliked. The cast did an excellent job with what they were handed and as Jonas told Decibel recently ,”There’s a lot of things we’re not supposed to do, but black metal bands break those rules every day. They all sell merchandise; they all do gigs; they all have Instagram…”
It’s funny, I remember when X-Men became a movie everyone wondered if Wolverine would wear yellow spandex. Some things that look cool in comic books can look very dorky in movies with live-action. A corpse-painted dude trying to look vampiric under a dead tree is much the same, looking pretty cool on a badly reproduced lo fi record sleeve but generally funny in broad daylight. This film certainly wins at showing how the scene’s members one upmanship could only insulate them so long from realizing they weren’t bad asses and actually had some real fucked up insecurities as people, no matter how cool the music was. They also, underneath it all, were kind of dorky and trying to seem cool, like any group of young rockers.
One of the best scenes is a post-jail Varg (played very well by Emory Cohen the whole movie as an ego wounded insecure kid who nonetheless does major harm trying to find validation while pretending otherwise and makes you really dislike him…going from being bullied to being the worst, smug self-serving piece of shit) yelling at Euronymous as played by Rory Culkin. Culkin really carries a lot of the film, and in this scene he tells Varg he made up a lot of stuff about never touring and being as evil as possible to basically drum up marketing buzz. Varg is still seemingly scarred for life that Euronymous shamed him initially for having a Scorpions patch once and so it feels like his life mission is to become more kvlt now, the never ending bottomless quest of every true edge lord.
First, I wanna say fuck VICE for firing so many brilliant writers lately. They backed this film. Nonetheless, while the pacing (much like Mary Queen of Scots, actually) rushes very fast sometimes through historical events for the sake of modern attention spans, a lot of it resonated with me, despite the flaws. An imperfect vessel, perhaps. I don’t think I could have made it better, though. And Sky Ferreira, for all the shit talk people gave her for being casted, was fucking great.
It’s disturbing at one point to see Sky’s character get bullied by Cohen into stripping for him and Rory’s characters, showing the weak sexism and desperation that hides behind what a lot of people in metal find to be transgressive. Knowing also how much Sky values her own agency as a woman, it was pretty emotionally effective seeing her deal with internalized misogyny in the black metal circles but end up being probably the best anchoring voice of reason in Euronymous’ life later in the film. We stan (looking forward to Masochism and also thank you for being kind to my gf Globelamp recently).
Anyway, I have a lot of thoughts.
More Below.Add to My Radar