Lords of Chaos

Critics Consensus

Lords of Chaos presents a grimly compelling dramatization of a real-life music scene whose aggressively nihilistic aesthetic spilled over into fatal acts of violence.

74%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 72

62%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 555

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Movie Info

A teenager's quest to launch Norwegian Black Metal in Oslo in the 1980s results in a very violent outcome. Lords of Chaos tells the true story of True Norwegian Black Metal and its most notorious practitioners - a group of young men with a flair for publicity, church-burning and murder: MAYHEM.

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Critic Reviews for Lords of Chaos

All Critics (72) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (53) | Rotten (19)

  • It only makes sense that one of the strangest stories in rock 'n' roll history has come back to life as one of the strangest movies you'll ever see.

    March 11, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Released into a culture that's experiencing a knife-crime epidemic, this 18-certificate film, which climaxes with another relentless and fetishised stabbing scene, feels almost bannable. Almost.

    March 29, 2019 | Rating: 0/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • The violence was for me almost unwatchable, but it's a well-made and worryingly plausible film.

    March 28, 2019 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A puckish, pointed parable of youth culture pushed to the extreme.

    March 25, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Åkerlund stages the film's violence with an unsettling, unflinching reality, to drive home the difference between entertainment and the real world.

    March 1, 2019 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • "Lords of Chaos" is two hours of boys behaving badly, but somehow forgets that the devil is in the details.

    February 13, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Lords of Chaos

  • Apr 03, 2020
    Lords of Chaos is not a Mayhem biopic. If you're looking for that, or if you're looking for a film about the rise of Black Metal in Norway, look entirely elsewhere. This is - at its surface - basically just a film about Euronymous and his relationship with Dead, and then with Varg. But it's really about "edge". About the kvlt of black metal that was arguably more vital to its identity than the actual music. About evil for evil's sake alone. This brutality that from the outside looking in is almost as cartoonish as it is despicable. I was born too late to be in the real thick of the black metal scene at its peak (and living in the Southern Hemisphere didn't help much either), but when I was coming up in the 2000s, the black metal scene might not have been thriving, but it was there, and I was a part of it. Edginess took precedence over everything else. It was a huge part of my identity, and it was the entire identity of some of the people I spent my time with. We never killed anyone, of course, but it got dark, and the music did honestly take a backseat to that edginess. Lords of Chaos does the same. The music takes a backseat. Lords of Chaos is so not about Mayhem in fact, that I honestly can't remember if Hellhammer, (garbage human, strong contender for world's best living drummer, and member of Mayhem for over 30 cumulative years) ever even actually got a line in this thing. I remember being young, and getting sick of proving myself to people whose whole idea of what made a black metal band count as "trve" enough was the fact that I'd never listened to them. Eventually, I told one such a fellow that the best black metal band in history was Twisted Sister, and then he never bothered trying to "outrank" my dedication to black metal again. What would be the point at that stage? Lords of Chaos seems to view black metal in pretty much the same way. Twisted Sister could be the best black metal band in history for all that Lords of Chaos actually displays about the subject. But after all that, you know why I still liked Lords of Chaos? Maybe some of it was just nostalgia, but for the most part, it's that there was actual characters in it. Sure the characters were, to a man, all assholes. And they may not have strongly resembled the people they were based on (except for the asshole part, that seems fair). But I was still invested in them. It wasn't just a mad rush to get from one notable point in a band's history to the next. There were people in it who interacted with each other. And that makes this the best musical biopic I've seen in years (despite not actually being one.)
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 25, 2019
    Can you divorce the art from the artist? We all have different thresholds of respect for our heroes and idols, and I've learned that it's usually best not to meet them or know too much about them as they are, after all, human and flawed like the rest of us. I don't think I've had to mitigate the gap between great art and the flawed nature of its creators as extremely as I have with Mayhem. By most accounts, including their own, several (if not all) of their members were atrocious human beings, but I'll be damned if I don't think De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas isn't a masterpiece and perhaps one of the greatest albums ever made. I've also seen the surviving members in concert twice, so I'm admittedly a bit of a fan boy. When discussing Jonas Akerlund's adaptation of the exposà (C) on the burgeoning days of Norwegian black metal, we have to take into account the mythology and the marketing that surrounds the crimes that took place back then to explain why this movie isn't great (but it's not that bad either). Told in a hackneyed narration style from the perspective of Oystein "Euronymous" Aarseth (Kieran Culkin) - one cobbled together purely from speculation - we are shown the rise of Deathlike Silence Records, Mayhem, and the Black Circle amidst the infamous church burnings, suicide of original frontman Per "Dead" Ohlin, and the murder of Magne Andreassen. With Aarseth as the primary source of exposition, he is granted a sort of moral clemency for his role in the crimes that surrounded the black metal scene, and this sympathetic light distorts him from someone who I believe was much more culpable than is let on. The great ironic conceit of the film is that all of these "dark" "evil" "satanic" counter-culturalists were all highly privileged and well-raised children from wealthy families which I think sugarcoats or overly humanizes the fact that these boys were sociopaths steeped in a toxic culture of derelict one-upmanship. The book that Lords of Chaos is based on would suggest that Euronymous was much more concerned with becoming a successful musician than any sort of an ideologue, but it's hard to clear him of ill intentions after his vandalism of Ohlin's death scene. He was certainly no angel. Leave it to the guy who is mostly known for his music videos to gloss over the grey areas and simplify a story like this with seemingly no goal in sight but for blood, guts, T'n'A, eViL, and METAL!!! But in the end, isn't a travesty of a biopic what those little nihilistic twerps deserve after the real world consequences they inflicted on others? The film is puerile in its edginess and try-hard angst, and the dialogue is so hilariously bad in parts that it could easily be mistaken for parody. The movie is intentionally and unintentionally making a mockery out of the situation, so even when it misses the mark it accomplishes its goal. In that aspect it is a success. It's like if The Boondock Saints was about the Menendez brothers. Ultimately, one can appreciate it as an exercise in the mythology that surrounds one of the most exciting and novel things to occur in the history of modern music. It's a story that could only come about because of the industry and marketing of shock culture within the context of first world decadence. It's also a testament to the idiocy of youth and the creative fire that it ignites. I doubt that's what Akerlund was going for, but it makes a hell of a lot more sense than whatever Polar was trying to do. Regardless, for a more comprehensive document on this scene and events please defer to Aites and Ewell's documentary Until the Light Takes Us.
    K Nife C Super Reviewer

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