"Lords of Chaos": Jack Kilmer, Jonathan Barnwell, Rory Culkin and Anthony De La Torre in Lords of Chaos, directed by Jonas Åkerlund. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January. Photo: Sundance Institute
"Lords of Chaos": Jack Kilmer, Jonathan Barnwell, Rory Culkin and Anthony De La Torre in Lords of Chaos, directed by Jonas Åkerlund. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January. Photo: Sundance InstituteVis mer

«Lords of Chaos» at Sundance Film Festival

Varg Vikernes calls critically acclaimed Mayhem film «Hollywood trash»

None of the main band members were involved in the film project about Mayhem.

(Dagbladet): The Hollywood film about the Norwegian black metal band Mayhem premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

«Lords of Chaos» deals, among other things, with the murder of one of the band's founding members, Øystein Aarseth, who was stabbed to death by band member Varg Vikernes, known as «The Count».

Church arsons and vocalist Per Yngve Ohlin’s suicide are other elements in the story.

The film is directed by Sweden's Jonas Åkerlund, who, before making a name for himself directing music videos for artists including Rammstein, Madonna and Lady Gaga, was a founding member of the black metal band Bathory.

Variety praises Åkerlund, and calls the film a «funny, occasionally frightening anthropological dramedy about how insecure boys hound each other to be really, really bad.»

Rolling Stone writes «as a true-crime case study that happens to involve headbanging, upside-down crosses, vandalism, delinquency and some bitchin' concert t-shirts, Chaos reigns».

- Pure fiction

Varg Vikernes is far less enthusiastic.

- From the reviews I have read of the film, this is pure fiction and has almost nothing to do with reality at all. I view the film as a character assassination, and not much else, Vikernes writes in an e-mail to Dagbladet.

- But... what else could one expect from pigs, other than grunting? After all, this trash was produced by Hollywood, he continues.

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CRITICAL: Varg Vikernes was convicted of murdering fellow band member Øystein «Euronymous» Aarseth in 1994. Vikernes is known as «The Count» and «Count Grishnackh», and continues to release music with his band Burzum. Photo: Reuters / NTB Scanpix
CRITICAL: Varg Vikernes was convicted of murdering fellow band member Øystein «Euronymous» Aarseth in 1994. Vikernes is known as «The Count» and «Count Grishnackh», and continues to release music with his band Burzum. Photo: Reuters / NTB Scanpix Vis mer

In 1994, Vikernes was sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murder of Øystein «Euronymous» Aarseth, three church arsons and theft.

Aarseth was murdered with 23 stab wounds in an apartment in Oslo. Neither the police nor the court believed Vikernes when he claimed the killing was self-defence.

The three churches he is convicted of having burned down were Åsane Church in Bergen, Skjold Church in Vindafjord and Holmenkollen Chapel in Oslo. He was also convicted of attempted arson of Storetveit Church in Bergen.

Vikernes was released from prison in 2009 and has continued to release records with his band Burzum. He has also moved to France and changed his name to Louis Cachet.

Jørn «Necrobutcher» Stubberud is one of the founders of Mayhem, and the only remaining original member of the influential black metal band.

ØYSTEIN AARSETH: At the record shop Helvete in 1993. The same year, he was stabbed to death. Photo: Jan-Petter Dahl / Dagbladet
ØYSTEIN AARSETH: At the record shop Helvete in 1993. The same year, he was stabbed to death. Photo: Jan-Petter Dahl / Dagbladet Vis mer

When the film was shot in 2016, he made highly critical remarks to Dagbladet. Stubberud did not believe the film-makers were interested in accurately telling the story.

- There is only one chapter in the book that is about us, and that's what they’re hung up on. The film is based on the tragic events that happened to us. They didn't even bother to contact us in advance. I am most disappointed that they are using our story and don’t call us in advance.

No comment

The film is partly based on the book «Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground», written by Didrik Søderlind and Michael Moynihan.

Søderlind does not want to comment on the criticism directed at the book or the film project. Stubberud also has nothing more add.

- I will wait with any further comments until I have seen the film, he writes in a text message to Dagbladet.

He has previously stated that at one point he was allowed to read the script and that he did not recognise the characters.

- I have neither seen the film nor read the finished script, so I choose to keep quiet until I have seen the film, says Jan Axel «Hellhammer» Blomberg.

The drummer has been a member of Mayhem since 1988.

Parts of «Lords of Chaos» were shot in Oslo. Rory Culkin, who is the younger brother of the more famous Macaulay Culkin, Emory Cohen, Sky Ferreira, Jack Kilmer, son of Val Kilmer, and Valter Skarsgård, son of Stellan Skarsgård, are among the cast members.

RORY CULKIN: The actor plays Aarseth in the film. Photo: Sundance Institute
RORY CULKIN: The actor plays Aarseth in the film. Photo: Sundance Institute Vis mer

In an interview with Deadline Culkin says this about the controversy surrounding the film and the reactions from the Mayhem camp:

- They reject the film, but in a sense, they also reject themselves. The film is about the internal conflict in the band. I don't think that they are ever entirely satisfied with anything.

Truth and lies

In the same interview, director Åkerlund claims that it is typical for the entire black metal community to distance themselves from a film like this, and that key figures have taken part in the development of the film.

- The truth is that we have been in contact with most of them, and the important figures in the story are excited about the film.​

Mayhem has denied Åkerlund the right to use their music in «Lords of Chaos».

New recordings have been made for scenes in which the film version of the band is playing, while Iceland's Sigur Ros are behind the soundtrack.

The director tells Collider that it has taken over 10 years to realise the film, which was shot over just 23 days.

JONAS ÅKERLUND: The director has a black metal past. Photo: Sundance Institute
JONAS ÅKERLUND: The director has a black metal past. Photo: Sundance Institute Vis mer

- I grew up with this story and never got it out of my head.

Confronted with what is truth and what is fiction in the film, he had this to say to Daily Dead:

- The story has changed and been told so many times that it would not be right for me to say that this is the true story. But in a way, it is the true story. By adding «and lies» at the start of the film, I give myself greater freedom to say that this is our way of telling the story.

This January, Mayhem has toured Australia and New Zealand. Their latest studio album was released in 2014.

​Read the original story in Norwegian here.