December 3, 2012

One Man Metal (2012)

Maintaining the trend of writing about other stuff than strictly music on TZEEEAC (and Marco copying my every move the next day because he's an awful Italian scumbag), I've seen One Man Metal some weeks ago and I've woken up today at 6.30 thinking "Hey, maybe I could write about that!". I'm not sure how many people care about metal documentaries but what the hell, I've got nothing better to do.

One Man Metal is a three-part documentary presented by Vice and Noisey that centers on three reclusive black metal musicians who have never before appeared or talked in front of a camera, much less give detailed interviews about their work, creation process, early life and so an. As you may gather from the poster, these one-man bands are Leviathan, Striborg and Xasthur. That dude had to travel to Oakland, LA and fucking Tasmania in order to track down these solitary artists and get them to confess in front of the lens, so it was a pretty difficult effort to shoot this thing. At one point, the presenter mentions that he had to get a Leviathan tattoo at Jef Whitehead's (known as Wrest) tattoo shop so he'd agree to appear in the documentary, which was pretty funny.

Jef Whitehead / Wrest (Leviathan)

If you're into any of  these bands, you've probably always secretly wished to get to know the guys behind the music. Given the type of music they play, I don't think it'll come as a surprise to anyone that these dudes are pretty fucked-up, miserable, lonely human beings who loathe social contact and would rather just spend their time indoors, away from people. The most "normal" of the bunch would probably be Sin Nanna of Striborg, just because he mentions he has a wife and kids, but then he puts on corpsepaint and a cape and goes to the woods, where he starts screaming inside a candle-lit cave, which was goofy as all hell. So obviously you have to take One Man Metal with a big pinch of salt.

Sin Nanna (Striborg)

Aside from all the inherently funny black metal staples, I thought the documentary did a pretty good job on shedding some light on these obscure bands. There are plenty of stories about Wrest's childhood and teenage years (and also the reason why there will never be another Lurker of Chalice record, which blows, since I have hoped for a new album for the past 4 years) and a part where he complains that he sold a logo to a company for 50 bucks and that 20 years later they're not giving him millions of dollars. The guy from Striborg has an Australian accent that's just impossible to associate with black metal, but at least he seems to be an okay dude and not totally insufferable to be around and talk to, so I guess that's okay. There are lots of shots of him walking through the jungle, which is pretty metal. Scott Conner from Xasthur comes off as a really harmless but hopelessly depressed guy who just wants to be left alone and create his music in peace and solitude, and I can definitely respect that. There's one moment where a cat enters his apartment and he's like "Oh gosh!" and there's this glimpse of joy on his face that's really genuine, so I think that's a very nice shot. There are also insights into each of them's recording space, creative process, influences and so on, so there's plenty of technical details that you've probably been interested in knowing.

Scott Conner / Malefic (Xasthur)

The entire thing is shot in black-and-white and it's very nicely edited and put together, with well-chosen music and a well structured narrative that focuses entirely on the musicians, without any filler. So yeah, I would recommend this to anyone who has even a passing interest in black metal. It's a pretty interesting watch and it only lasts for 45 minutes, so there are definitely worse ways to spend this time. I am also going to watch Until the Light Takes Us these days, although I have the feeling it will not be as tight as this. If you know of any other documentaries that are worth checking out, let me know in the comments or whatever.

You can watch One Man Metal in its entirety on YouTube, starting with Part 1. Don't get too suicidal.

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