Various Artists
"Black Metal Satanica"

(MVD Visual)

For more information, click here.

RATING: 7.5/10

The creators (or marketers) of "Black Metal Satanica" have dubbed it "the most haunting and evil documentary ever made." I wouldn't go that far, but it certainly does explore the morbid history and dark underworld of Scandinavian black metal in a way that is not run of the mill. The 80-minute DVD takes a philosophical view of the region's storied black metal scene by emphasizing the ideology of the adherents, the bases of the lyrical content, and the rash of murders and church burnings, as well as the early history of the sub-genre.

Much attention is paid to the Vikings' battle against the imposition of Christian ideology through narration and discussion with members of bands like WATAIN, VREID, SHINING, SVARTAHRID, and RIMFROST. The conversations with Bjorn Almar (Hammerslagfestival Vinterblot) are especially informative, as the man really knows his black metal. Rather than focusing on the sensationalist aspect of Satanism, the commentators explore the philosophy as it pertains to the quest to take back Scandinavia from the Christian church and its forced monotheistic view that is in direct opposition to the polytheistic tradition. The documentary's in-depth explorations of symbolism (e.g. Thor's Hammer), the importance of feeling and atmosphere in the music, and the inspiration derived from the cold, forested countries of Finland, Norway, and Sweden, while thorough, can be redundant and drawn out at times, yet still basically effective. SHINING's Niklas Olsson (a.k.a. Kvarforth) is afforded a lengthy amount of screen time toward the latter part of the DVD that is both intriguing and frightening due to his self-destructive flesh defiling, suicidal views, and grim outlook on life.

The historical examination of the sub-genre focuses on progenitors BATHORY and most notably MAYHEM's infamous beginnings, including Dead's suicide and the murder of Euronymous by Varg Vikernes (BURZUM). MAYHEM's story of course leads to detailed discussions of church burnings, grave desecration, and related acts of violence as a means of waging war on the Christian church.

Interspersed with music and video clips of the black metal music by the same bands whose members discuss the finer details of black metal, "Black Metal Satanica" is in fact a chilling portrait of the movement. One could complain of the absence of commentary from acts like DARKTHRONE, DARK FUNERAL, or MARDUK, but the point here is to explore a lifestyle and philosophy. To that end the DVD succeeds.

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