Until the Light Takes Us is a focused look at the roots of Norwegian Black Metal. Directors Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell interview a collection of artists including members of Immortal, Ulver, Mayhem, Satyricon and Emperor. The film's soundtrack contains a gathering of black metal's best--Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Emperor, Enslaved, etc.Until the Light Takes Us
throws a spotlight on Fenris and Varg Vikernes, aka Count Grishnackh, and reveals a pair of musical opposites. Varg is a man of strong moral code, albeit morals from a culture long ago buried by time and dust. Often branded a racist for his ideals, Varg strongly believes in the preservation of heritage. Fenris is much less sure of his self and belief structure. He differs from Varg in that politics are of no concern; he just wants to make music.
While displaying footage and information that most avid black metal fans saw years ago, Until the Light Takes Us
allows the culprits of this real life crime drama to properly tell their story. Vikerness gives the perspective as the older, influential member of the black metal circle, while Fenris offers the viewpoint of the younger faction who looked up to Mayhem
founder Euronymous and Vikerness of Burzum
. The two also speak on other members in the scene such as ex-Emperor drummer Bard “Faust,” who became notorious for murder, dead Mayhem
vocalist Dead and Thorn’s Snorre W. Ruch.
The mass of interview footage not only allows each artist a chance to tell his side of the story, it also paints a pictures of each as a person. Fenris seems uncomfortable—chain smoking, drinking and compulsively itching. He wears black bags under his eyes. Vikernes is much more confident and cocksure. He is a well-spoken, intelligent man. Like the archangel Lucifer, Burzum
’s lone man is often misunderstood, which comes from yellow journalism and his questionable morals.
Even though Until the Light Takes Us
offers all of the positives listed above, it lacks in other areas. The film focuses too much on Darkthrone
, while leaving out interviews with other major players such as Thorns and Emperor
(correction, Bard Faust makes a short appearance, although his face and voice are hidden). De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
(an album Vikerness played bass on right before killing Euronymous) went unnoticed. In addition, the film’s creators spend too much time on a black metal graphic artist whose artwork makes a mockery of Norwegian Black Metal. If these parts were cut and the film went to two hours then we would have a masterpiece! However, near the end of the film the image Frost of Satyricon
slicing his flesh confronts the viewer with an unforgettable vision.