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Until The Light Takes Us
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Directors: Aaron Aites & Audrey Ewell
Length: 93 minutes

Until The Light Takes Us tells the story of black metal. Part music scene and part cultural uprising, black metal rose to worldwide notoriety in the mid-nineties when a rash of suicides, murders, and church burnings accompanied the explosive artistic growth and output of a music scene that would forever redefine what heavy metal is and what it stands for to other musicians, artists and music fans world-wide. Until The Light Takes Us goes behind the highly sensationalized media reports of "Satanists running amok in Europe" to examine the complex and largely misunderstood principles and beliefs that led to this rebellion against both Christianity and modern culture.

To capture this on film, directors Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell moved to Norway and lived with the musicians for several years, building relationships that allowed them to create a surprisingly intimate portrait of this violent, but ultimately misunderstood, movement. The result is a poignant, moving story that’s as much about the idea that reality is composed of whatever the most people believe, regardless of what’s actually true, as it is about a music scene that blazed a path of murder and arson across the northern sky.

For more information and to order your copy (North America) visit: Factory 25

Reviews
2010-10-04
Review By: Kevin Johnson - Site Editor at SC Metal Bay

Murder, mayhem, and madness—three words to illustrate the tangled string of events surrounding the Norwegian black metal scene in the early 1990s. Dabbled with suicide, church arson, betrayal, murder, and media sensationalism, the trials enveloped around enigmatic characters like Count Grishnackh remain forever burned in the catatonic archives of the most twisted and highly feared metal sub-genre: Black Metal.

2009’s Until The Light Takes Us paints a bloody portrait of black metal’s history as seen through the eyes of the key players in the genre’s uprising. The gracefully shot documentary by directors Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell received critical acclaim when it swept through theaters in 2009, boasting a theatrical run of over 20 weeks and grossing over $130,000 at the box office. The film has since been released on standard DVD, a limited 2-disk special edition DVD, Blu-Ray, and Digital Download.

The 93 minute documentary is nothing less than spectacular; an emotionally driven and highly revealing look into the lives of the men who created and lived though the legendary tale of black metal’s second wave. The film divulges into black metal’s history through a collection of interviews with the bands that raised the genre to its iconic status—Varg Vikernes of Burzum, Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell of Darkthrone, Jan Axel “Hellhammer” Blomberg of Mayhem, Kjetil-Vidar “Frost” Haraldstad of Satyricon, and Olve “Abbath” Eikemo of Immortal, as well as other notorious black metal musicians.

Until The Light Takes Us holds a strong yet steady pace, touching on the highlight events of black metal’s gruesome history such as the suicide of Dead, the arson of the Fantoft stave church, Faust’s killing of Mange Andreassen, and the murder of Euronymous. The documentary also takes its audience on a visual tour to the depths of Helvete and provides a deep introspection to the twisted minds behind The Black Circle. Most notably, Until The Light Takes Us touches on the media sensationalism that fueled the investigations which later led to the arrest and conviction of Varg Vikernes.

The film’s soundtrack consists of classic black metal bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, and Ulver, as well as ambient tracks from Mayhem vocalist Atilia’s Sunn 0))). Though the selection of black metal songs is strong, the variety falls somewhat short, failing to offer a vast collection of the genre’s seemingly endless array of bands.

Special features on the two disk special edition of Until The Light Takes Us include an alternate ending, outtakes, trailer, deleted scenes, a history “class” on the genre with Fenriz, and a collection of interviews with the top black metal bands in the second wave.

BOTTOM LINE: Overall, Until The Light Takes Us is an excellent, unbiased look at the history and culture of the second wave of Norwegian black metal. The film is very well shot, strongly paced, informative, and emotionally evocative.

RATING: 8/11

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