Until the Light Takes Us

Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell’s black-metal documentary is a morbidly hypnotic yet generally disorganized affair. To be fair, you could argue that it stays purposefully true to the pervasive murk of its subject. The film never explains what black metal is, nor how it differs from its related micro-genre variants such as deathcore, goregrind, or even death metal—not to mention, as a foolish neophyte might, death ambient.

It seems a heavy muddle indeed, although the film’s keynote speaker, Varg Vikernes, aka Count Grishnackh, has in fact been convicted of murder. (The directors managed to interview him while he was incarcerated in a Norwegian maximum-security prison.) The crime would perhaps suggest that Vikernes’s work belongs in the death-metal camp. (It’s of anecdotal interest that he appears to be the only permanent member of Burzum, which helps to explain why the “band” has managed to record two albums behind bars.) No one, of course, is likely to quibble semantics with Count Grishnackh. He doesn’t seem to be the sort of individual you would describe as open to suggestions.

In any event, initiates of the art form, and specialty-market types who are instinctively drawn to anything involving church burning and ritual violence, will seek out the film regardless of its obscurity, and will probably bemuse themselves in its gloom. As is their wont. (You know who you are.)