DVD Review – Until the Night Takes Us

Until The Light Takes Us

Until The Light Takes Us focuses on the beginnings of Black Metal, and the bands who were at the forefront of this movement; Darkthrone, Burzum and Mayhem. Inevitably this means looking at the arson and murder cases of the early 90s.

While this could have been a sensationalist piece, instead Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell have produced a fascinating documentary that calls into question the perceived aims of Black Metal. It focuses mainly on two key figures, Gylve Nagell of Darkthrone and Varg Vikerness of Burzum, who at the time of production was still in prison for the murder of Øystein Aareth.

The film has no narrative voiceover, no obvious editorial commnent, relying instead on interviews, archive material and footage of Nagell on a day to day basis. Early on we have both men talking about what drove them to start making music in the first place, and what, if any, ideologies they had. It becomes apparent almost immediately, that Nagell just wanted to make music, while Vikerness had a much more political bent, a desire to produce something that rebelled against commercialism and good production values.

Of the two men Nagell comes across as a genuinely nice guy, while Vikerness is clearly intelligent and charismatic. Both appear to be open and honest in the interview process, Aites and Ewell moved to Norway to develop relationships with their interviewees and there does seem to be a great level of trust.

What starts to become apparent is that the demonization of Black Metal arose after Vikerness spoke to a paper about a spate of church burnings in Norway. Vikerness says that much of his original interview was taken out of context and that the talk of Satanism came solely from a press that was keen to demonise a group of young people that they clearly didn’t understand.

Such reporting began to generate a self-fulfilling prophecy, while the original bands were not Satanic, nor were the fans, disenfranchised Norwegian teenagers, took the idea of Satanism to their hearts and there were more church burnings, more suicides, more acts of violence.

Vikerness even talks openly about his murder of Øystein Aarath, which he considered an act of self-preservation, after Aarath had discussed kidnapping and torturing him. What he says is disjointed in places, not quite making sense, but this suggests honesty rather than a man practised in telling his side of the story. Of course, this could also be the result of very clever editing which draws us in, rather than repels.

It’s clear that the directors have a fondness for Nagell and Vikerness, and their musical aims. The inclusion in the documentary of artist Bjarne Melgaard who uses Black Metal iconography in his artworks, and Kjetil Haralstad of Satyricon, acts as a counterpoint to what Black Metal was, and how commercial it has since become as a result of the media attention.

Until The Light Takes Us is a fascinating look into a genre that has been vilified for over 20 years, skilfully edited and compelling, this should be of interest to anyone who has an interest in the media portrayal, both positive and negative, of genres that step away from the norm.

This was originally posted on 17th May, 2010 over at Blogomatic3000

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on May 25, 2010.

3 Responses to “DVD Review – Until the Night Takes Us”

  1. you meant darkthrone, not deaththrone.

  2. …and it’s called “Until the Light Takes Us”, not “Until the Night Takes Us”.

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