What is the Best Black Metal Documentary? Revealed!

by Patria

Black metal, a subgenre of heavy metal music, has long captivated audiences with its haunting melodies, raw energy, and controversial themes. Beyond the music itself, this genre has given rise to a subculture steeped in mysticism, rebellion, and a relentless pursuit of artistic expression. To delve deeper into the world of black metal, several documentaries have emerged, offering a comprehensive and often provocative exploration of this enigmatic scene. In this article, we will unveil the best black metal documentaries, shedding light on the stories, controversies, and cultural impact that have shaped this genre’s enduring legacy.

1. “Once Upon a Time in Norway” – A Gripping Tale of Chaos and Creativity

Directed by Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites, “Once Upon a Time in Norway” is widely regarded as one of the most definitive and captivating black metal documentaries ever created. Released in 2008, this film takes viewers on a mesmerizing journey through the formative years of the Norwegian black metal scene, a period marked by both creative brilliance and tragic consequences.

The documentary delves into the lives of influential bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, and Darkthrone, exploring the ideologies, motivations, and personal stories that fueled their music. Through intimate interviews and archival footage, the film provides a raw and unflinching portrayal of the scene’s early days, offering insights into the controversies surrounding church burnings, violence, and the infamous Euronymous murder case.

What sets “Once Upon a Time in Norway” apart is its ability to strike a delicate balance between artistic appreciation and objective examination. While acknowledging the dark and controversial aspects of the genre, the documentary also celebrates the raw creative energy and musical innovation that emerged from this turbulent period.

2. “Lords of Chaos” – Delving into the Darkest Corners of Black Metal

Based on the book of the same name by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind, “Lords of Chaos” is a fictionalized retelling of the Norwegian black metal scene’s most infamous events. Directed by Jonas Åkerlund, this 2018 film offers a visually stunning and intensely atmospheric portrayal of the genre’s early days.

The film centers around the relationship between Øystein Aarseth (Euronymous) and Varg Vikernes (Count Grishnackh), two pioneering figures in the Norwegian black metal scene. As their artistic and ideological differences escalate, the film takes a harrowing turn, exploring the church burnings, violence, and ultimately, the murder of Euronymous.

While “Lords of Chaos” has received criticism for its fictionalized elements, the film’s meticulous attention to detail and its unflinching depiction of the scene’s darkest moments make it a compelling and thought-provoking exploration of black metal’s extremes. Åkerlund’s stylistic choices, coupled with powerful performances from the cast, create a visceral and immersive experience that challenges viewers to confront the genre’s complexities.

3. “True Norwegian Black Metal” – A Raw and Authentic Perspective

Directed by Eckhard Mosar, “True Norwegian Black Metal” is a no-frills documentary that offers an uncompromising and authentic look at the Norwegian black metal scene. Released in 2007, this film takes a more grounded approach, eschewing sensationalism in favor of a raw and honest portrayal of the genre’s origins and evolution.

Through extensive interviews with key figures such as Nocturno Culto (Darkthrone), Fenriz (Darkthrone), Hellhammer (Mayhem), and Frost (Satyricon), the documentary provides a comprehensive exploration of black metal’s roots, ideologies, and artistic motivations. The film delves into topics such as the genre’s ties to pagan and Norse mythology, the influence of extreme metal, and the underground network that sustained the scene during its early years.

What sets “True Norwegian Black Metal” apart is its commitment to authenticity and its respect for the music and the artists that created it. Rather than focusing solely on controversies, the documentary celebrates the creative spirit and the unwavering dedication of those who helped shape this genre into a cultural phenomenon.

4. “Blackhearts” – Exploring the Global Reach of Black Metal

While many documentaries focus on the Norwegian black metal scene, “Blackhearts” takes a broader perspective, exploring the global impact and diversity of this genre. Directed by Fredrik Hana and David Fremberg, this 2017 film offers a captivating journey through various black metal scenes around the world, from the United States to Indonesia, and beyond.

Through interviews with bands, fans, and industry insiders, “Blackhearts” examines the unique cultural and personal factors that have influenced the development of black metal in different regions. The documentary delves into the genre’s evolution, its adaptations to local traditions and beliefs, and the challenges faced by artists and fans alike in pursuing their passion for this extreme form of musical expression.

One of the film’s strengths lies in its ability to showcase the diversity and resilience of the global black metal community. By highlighting the stories of artists and fans from vastly different backgrounds, “Blackhearts” challenges the stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding the genre, offering a nuanced and inclusive perspective on this subculture.

5. “Black Metal: A Documentary” – A Comprehensive Look at a Misunderstood Genre

Directed by Bill Zebub, “Black Metal: A Documentary” is a comprehensive and in-depth exploration of the genre’s history, philosophy, and cultural impact. Released in 2008, this film takes a scholarly approach, featuring interviews with academics, journalists, and influential figures within the black metal scene.

The documentary delves into the origins and evolution of black metal, tracing its roots from the early days of the Norwegian scene to its global spread and the emergence of various sub-genres. It examines the philosophical and ideological underpinnings of the music, exploring themes such as anti-Christianity, paganism, and the pursuit of individuality and artistic expression.

What sets “Black Metal: A Documentary” apart is its commitment to presenting a balanced and nuanced perspective on the genre. While acknowledging the controversies and misunderstandings surrounding black metal, the film also highlights the artistic depth and cultural significance of this music, challenging preconceived notions and encouraging a deeper appreciation for the genre’s complexities.


The world of black metal is a realm of contrasts, where darkness and light, chaos and creativity intertwine in a mesmerizing dance. These documentaries offer a gateway into this enigmatic subculture, providing viewers with a deeper understanding of the genre’s origins, controversies, and enduring impact on the world of music and beyond.

Whether exploring the tumultuous early days of the Norwegian scene or delving into the global reach of black metal, these films celebrate the raw energy, artistic expression, and unwavering dedication that have sustained this genre through the decades. By shining a light on the stories, ideologies, and personal journeys of those who have shaped black metal, these documentaries invite audiences to embark on a captivating journey into the heart of this misunderstood and often misrepresented art form.

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