Blackhearts (2016)

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Black metal documentaries have been rearing their horned and corpse painted heads all over the place the last few years, most notably with “Until the Light Takes Us”,which focussed exclusively (to much criticism) on the Norwegian/Helvete scene that existed for a short but influential time in the 1990s. “Blackhearts” also takes looks at Norway, but expands its view out to show that scenes influence. The three bands we follow through this documentary are playing music festivals in Norway and treat their trip as a pilgrimage to the Mecca of their black metal world.

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The documentary is a fittingly raw look at these musicians and fans, at times inspiring but then in equal amounts unflattering, depending on who we are following. It really highlights the wide breadth of viewpoints and lifestyles this particular genre of extreme metal can attract. on one end of the spectrum is Sina, making black metal in Iran and risking possible imprisonment for his chosen method of artistic expression. Seeing someone risk essentially everything just to perform as an artist is a good reminder that as cynical as we can get about the metal circle jerk, there are real consequences for some people out there. You need to have the bad to have the good though, and that role lands right in the lap of Kaidas, frontman of Naer Mataron and parliamentary representative of Greece’s Golden Dawn Party. Yeah, those guys. So yeah, quite the spectrum of people and levels of inspiration at work here.

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While I would have watched Sina’s story by itself and been equally impressed thanks to everything I mentioned above, Blackhearts allows us to peek into Columbia and some of the South American scene. Also some heavy duty Satanism! If you’ve followed my writing, you know that I have a huge love of war metal and some of the most powerful in the world originates in South America. I really think this is a far under-sung scene in the western metal media circle(jerk) and I’m happy to see some people putting boots on the ground and documenting what’s happening down there. We experience Columbia through by following Hector, a devout satanist, father and member of the band Luciferian. Guess what they scream about?.

Like I said, Hector is heavy into Satanism, and not the hot topic edgelord stuff most of us are familiar with. I feel safe betting money they are having a black mass involving black robes, animal sacrifices and at least 3 kinds of orgies as I type this. Not one to take chances, Hector and his band perform a Satanic ritual, in which they sell their souls in , hoping to guarantee that they get the work visa’s they need to perform in Norway. That’s some dedication to the cause if I’ve ever seen one. To practice what looks to be pretty open Satan worship also has to take some kind of fortitude in a predominantly Catholic country, even if it doesn’t carry the same weight as the possible repercussions facing.

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Naer Mataron, are without a doubt the weakest link in this documentary. Their story held my interest up until Kaidas is thrown in jail for possible criminal activities tied to his participation in Golden Dawn. After that we get to follow around the rest of his band mates as they practice cognitive dissonance (praising “the old gods” and lighting candles in Norway while days before they had railed against religion and worship) and edglordary (getting far more upset than necessary with a reporter who wants to talk about their ties to Golden Dawn, the most newsworthy thing about their not particularly interesting brand of black metal) the rest of the documentary. Not the best look for those guys, and you have a pretty much a verified Nazi in the band so that’s saying ALOT.

Overall, Blackhearts is a great presentation of the obsessive and extremely varied personalities black metal attracts and the oftentimes almost religious worship of the land many consider to be the birthplace of black metal as many know it. It doesn’t mire itself in obtuse aspects of the genre that would only interest a diehard, instead being an interesting starting point for someone who doesn’t know much about the genre. Oh, and it has actual black metal in it instead of a weird electronic soundtrack. It’s the small things.

-Scotty (@drunkgraveyard)

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