Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America

Severed_WaysGuy poops (graphically) in bush, kills some chickens, burns a church and headbangs in the forest… ZOMG that is so Black Metal. Severed Ways is shit. It’s horrible, tacky, trashy, a cash-in and devoid of a sense of authentic history or culture.

Two Vikings who were part of a larger group have been left behind in North America. Here you have what could have been an interesting premise: how do these guys survive? If the makers of the film had bothered to research and tried to put some culture into their movie instead of attempting to make a “cult Black Metal” film, it could have been an interesting film, but it’s not. Essentially what you have is these two dicks walking around, shitting, killing animals, burning churches and fucking with Christians.

It’s far too great of a compliment to call this film a documentary styled journey. It’s low-budget, Z-grade handy-cam trash. It utilizes a “Black Metal” soundtrack to pimp itself, and if you’re expecting to hear a “True Norwegian Black Metal” soundtrack well bad luck, it’s 95% ambient.

If you’re planning on checking this out because it has been touted as a “Black Metal” film with a “Black Metal” soundtrack, then you’re going to love this. If you want to check this out because you realize it’s a cash-in modern day exploitation crap-fest then you won’t be disappointed because it is sheer garbage. I love “its so bad it’s good” movies but this is “so bad it’s… just shit”. I really want to smash the DVD and douse it in petrol and burn it.

I don’t hate it only because it has been touted as a BM film and fails to be, everything about it is just terrible. From the bad camera angles, migraine-inducing hand-held work, terrible casting of pimply/skinny dorks as Vikings, the shitty $2 shop looking costumes, the film is just a joke. Not to mention the dorky blonde/Michael Pitt looking guy moshing (axe in hand) in the middle of the forest, I mean what the hell? Did Leif Erikkson mosh in the woods?. This is worse than art school crap, it’s worse than what a stoner could come up with it’s retarded. They also throw fire at some dogs and really  burn one, the butchered chicken killings, although pathetic, I can see why it was used but throwing fire at dogs is cruel.

There is no tension, no atmosphere, no character development and no rich tapestries in the settings or costumes. Valhalla Rising – although many felt let down by the lack of fighting- was so rich in its sets, costumes and atmosphere that the film was an authentic experience. Severed Ways is just second-rate fan-boy drama, I don’t see how on earth it got such a mainstream release, it seems like something a shitty indie label would put out. Give this one a miss and go purchase Valhalla Rising if you want a Viking movie and if you’re wanting a Black Metal movie go and buy The Misanthrope. Believe me, you‘ll thank me. You’re welcome.

Severed Ways is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.

Once Upon a Time in Norway

Once_Upon_a_Time_in_NorwayOnce Upon a Time in Norway: The history of Mayhem and the rise of Norwegian Black Metal is a documentary about the early Black Metal movement in Norway. The film is a collaboration by the following directors: Martin Ledang, Pål Aasdal, Olav Martinius Ilje Lien & Oddbjørn Hofseth. After playing at the Bergen film festival the first edition of the DVD sold out within two weeks – which is encouraging as the film offers “Black Metal fans” something new considering the subject has been hammered to death and cashed in on by photographers, writers, filmmakers….

The documentary is broken up into segments titled: Mayhem, Satan & Politics,Underground, Dead, Euronymous, Helvete etc and features interviews with Manheim (ex-Mayhem), Nocturno Culto (Darkthrone), priest Rolf Rasmussen, Tchort (Carpathian Forest), Anders Odden (Cadaver) and more. They discuss subjects from the infamous murders, church burnings, and the underground scene and what became of it.

What separates this documentary from others is the fact that there is no ulterior motive to glamorize or demonize Black Metal. Once Upon a Time in Norway uncovers the true story as told by the people who were directly involved in the early scene and presents their uncensored and historical opinions, perspectives and anecdotes.

The most interesting and insightful interviewee is Kjetil Manheim (ex Mayhem drummer), he recalls stories in an objective and distanced manner. His interpretations of events are not hazed by image and stature – he simply tells things like they were. I really appreciated being able to hear a side of the story that we’ve never heard or really had access to before. Anyone who has read Lords of Chaos or understands the basic concepts of the roles of the media knows that the media and that book were/are extremely biased and sensationalized and twisted the whole Black Metal ethos into a sideshow of extremist acts and reduced Black Metal to a petty power struggle amongst boys. Through Kjetil’s account it is 100% clear that the actions of a handful of people imposed this whole ideology onto something that was originally about grimness and music. I believe that there is no universal message or standard in Black Metal, and so what Black Metal is to me is not what it means to the hundreds of wrist cutting, long haired, male Dimmu Borgir fans. If they think its about burning churches, killing fags, sacrificing animals and shitting on tombstones then more power to them.

Once Upon a Time in Norway pro-actively moves beyond the heinous exploitation of the music, a nation and the acts of a few self obsessed kids and provides a fair and balanced outlet for the history to be told by those who matter. With two more “Black Metal movies” on the horizon, I doubt either of them will be as informative and as interesting as Once Upon a Time in Norway.

Once Upon a Time in Norway provides a fresh angle on a tired subject. There really is no need to own any other film on the matter, but of course there will be many more exploitative fares, hell probably even a Broadway play at some point. I hope that Once Upon a Time in Norway will set a standard among film makers to stop exploiting the notorious aspects of Norwegian Black Metal. Next to Once Upon a Time in Norway and Nocturno Culto’s The Misanthrope you really don’t need much more. Keep your money and buy some albums for they are what really matters.

The extra features in this set include four extended interviews each with a runtime of about 20 minutes. A 12 page booklet with an article by Roy Kristensen also accompanies this set. Since the first batch sold out incredibly fast I would be making this release a priority purchase.

  • Extended Interviews:
  • Ted “Nocturno Culto” Skjellum from Darkthrone
  • Priest Rolf Rasmussen
  • Producer Erik “Pytten” Hundvin
  • Terje Vik “Tchort”Schei ex Emperor
  • 12 page booklet

Once Upon a Time in Norway is available on Region 2 DVD from Another World.

Noturno Culto Interview

Some of you might know Nocturno Culto from his Darkthrone fame, but today I received a pleasant email with the replies to my questions on his film The Misanthrope. If you haven’t watched, rented, downloaded or stolen this film then do yourself a favour and get a copy now.

The Naked Kiss: Could you  tell us how the idea for The Misanthrope came about?

Nocturno Culto: Sure, this has been an idea I had for many years. It’s important to point out that Darkthrone has been my life for 20 years, and vast nature has always been a source of inspiration for this band and myself.

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The Misanthrope

misanthropeI happened to stumble across The Misanthrope by accident when I was browsing snapper music’s website, and I ordered it right away. I didn’t really know what I was buying exactly, so I read a little bit about it on the Internet and the terms fictitious movie, home footage and documentary surfaced. After watching it, I still haven’t come to any conclusion of what it technically is. So I quote the words of Soren Kierkegaard: “Once you label me, you negate me”- I feel this applies greatly to the Misanthrope.

There is no narrative or plot in the film, it consists of a collection of chapters aptly named. The footage ranges from ice fishing expeditions to Darkthrone rehearsal footage, scenes from a trip to Japan including live Gallhammer footage, and Nocturno Culto riding a bike. I liked the fact that this movie has such a strange comedic element, when telling my friend about it over the phone, hearing myself say “Nocturno Culto did a wheelie” made me sort of stop and think, ahh what? and I burst out laughing. I guess I didn’t expect to be amused by the film, although I suspect you have to have a very dry sense of humor to fully appreciate The Misanthrope.

I need to get one thing straight: this is not a ‘conventional’ documentary on black metal, there is nothing in the film about anything that is notorious within the Black Metal ‘scene’. I think most BM fans who complain about this film on forums take the whole thing a bit too seriously, you say: “Aren’t these people supposed to be grim evil motherfuckers? Yet here they are ice fishing and playing Chinese checkers!” Well… I could not think of anything more boring than watching Darkthrone rehearse for 56 minutes, (actually I could but I am trying to stress a point here) so I am glad I got to see some stunning visuals, interesting characters and footage of one of my favourite bands (Aura Noir) performing.

The Misanthrope is a film that will either speak to you or it won’t. It isn’t an art film, yet it has real desolate imagery that is so simplistic and speaks volumes, suggesting “artsy” qualities, but in context with the rest of the film it isn’t an art film. I found some of the sequences to be foreboding and the at times creepy soundtrack rather confronting and whether this was Nocturno Culto’s intention or not, it doesn’t matter because that is what I took from the film. Regardless of the author’s vision, this is a film that relies heavily on you to use that thing called your mind. It’s not a fucking Pantera home video, and you’re an idiot if that’s what you think you are going to get.

So my conclusion is “If you are great, The Misanthrope is a great picture. If you are limited, The Misanthrope is limited.” (Sorry Jodorowsky, I couldn’t help it)

It is a really impressive looking set, and comes with a booklet full of images from the film. There is also a second disc which is the soundtrack. For those of you who care: the first 600 copies are signed by Nocturno Culto.

Be sure to read my interview with Nocturno Culto by clicking here.

  • Rare Darkthrone live footage
  • Promo video for Too Old Too Cold
  • Photo Gallery
  • Bonus audio CD

The Misanthrope is available on R0 DVD from Snapper Music.