In its very brief nine-minute running time, Black Metal -- filmed in Austin -- manages to lay bare some harsh truths and expose bundles of raw nerves. Without revealing too much, the film centers on a fictitious Texas black metal band, Crown of Horns, played on film and tracked by real life Texas black-metal outfit Vesperian Sorrow, and the immediate aftermath of a horrible crime committed in the band's name.
What strikes the viewer immediately upon watching the film is that Black Metal goes well beyond the common topics of blame and media sensationalism when unspeakable violence occurs. Director Kat Candler manages to shoehorn so much into the very brief film running time that once it's over, you're left with the urge to rewatch.
Veiled in the polarizing and inherent violence ever-present in extreme metal, the film dares viewers who may be unfamiliar with the genre to examine the viewpoint of an artist who has far more at stake than first meets the eye. The familiar themes of blame, responsibility and morality are all present, simply examined from a far more insular and succinct point of view than many viewers may be used to.
In exploring artists' inner and outer reactions to a tragedy being placed at their doorstep -- and ultimately on their shoulders -- Black Metal raises themes of morality in art, as well as the haunting repercussions of the unintended end use of an artist's creation.
Candler's second Sundance selection in as many years, Black Metal also has a cast and crew list that may be familiar to metalheads. Music supervisor and Pearland native Corey Mitchell is an all-around metal and film expert, editor of MetalSucks and a best-selling true-crime author.
Along with cameos by members of the aforementioned Vesperian Sorrow, the soundtrack features songs from black-metal band Horned Almighty as well as up-and-coming Arkansas doom outfit Pallbearer.
Look for more from writer/director Kat Candler in 2013. Her original screenplay Love Me will see release by Anchor Bay, while two more projects, Hellion and Nikki Is a Punk Rocker, are in development.
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Black Metal is available to view online this week only to coincide with its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Check it out above and let us know what you think.