This trailer for the Finnish black metal documentary Loputon Gehennan liekki (Eternal Flame of Gehenna) has made me anxious to see the documentary for years. The documentary was originally published in 2011 and it was featured at the Night Visions film festival of that year, but after that it has remained more or less underground. Finally, the dvd came out a few weeks ago.
The film takes a brief look at Finnish black metal throughout history with interviews of musicians and others who have been more or less involved in the scene. The interviews are accompanied with music and concert clips, and, uh, satanic rituals, and whatnot, but the focus is on stories and opinions told by the interviewees. Bands included in the film are, for example, Azazel, Satanic Warmaster, Goatmoon, Stormheit, Barathrum, Behexen, Horna, and Enochian Crescent.
Watching this documentary, I came to realize how different Finnish black metal indeed is from, for instance, the Norwegian one. Surely there are individual differences between bands and musicians and I should avoid generalizations, but Loputon Gehennan Liekki made me see the Finnishness in Finnish black metal. Both in good and in bad. I was surprised at how much of it is openly narrow-minded, elitist, and fucked-up - but then I realized that these are implicit values that are deeply rooted both in Finnish society and in black metal. Maybe that's why you often hear about Finnish black metal not being fake.
Black metal is about rebellion, right? Considering the documentary from this point of view, it was extremely black metal. To rebel against rules of what is appropriate by being drunk as fuck during an interview - yes, that is black metal as fuck. From what I've learned, black metal ideology manifests itself in different ways in different people. For some it is in the rebellion, for others it's in national romanticism, satanism, mysticism, nature... It depends. For hardly anyone interviewed in this documentary music was the main point in black metal.
This is probably one of the main attractions that draws people to black metal - the passion and dedication. For the artists it is not just music. Even if for outsiders it would seem like theater, many people in the scene live and breathe the ideology - or at least they say so. However, for many of us at the listening end the black metal rebellion and a dedication to the dark arts is only part of growing up and testing our limits. After that it becomes just music again. I guess it's the truly dedicated (or mental) motherfuckers who stay true to Satan throughout times... who end up becoming professional black metal musicians. Many grow out of it. I noticed this in real life last week at a black metal concert where most of the audience was a lot younger than me, and the oldest people there were probably the musicians in one of the bands.
Black metal, and thus this documentary, are made to be provocative. That's obvious. The first time I watched it, I admit my jimmies were slightly rustled. Why? Because I am liberal, tolerant, and OH MY GOD, female. These characteristics don't really match with black metal essentials, eh. In my humble opinion some of the comments made in the documentary were straight up childish, and when people appear to be extremely serious about comments like that, the end result can be infuriating, but also funny. At times it did make me wonder why the fuck do I bother with this genre of music anyway, but then I listen to the music and I remember. For me black metal is "just" music, it is "just" art, because I don't live and breathe the ideology. I enjoy the energy of black metal, the way that black metal sounds and looks like, I enjoy listening to and watching dedicated people perform their music. It is powerful and it awakens at least some sort of emotions in everyone.
Here's a good example.