Nocturno Culto - The Misanthrope: The Existence of...Solitude and Chaos (Peaceville/Tyrant Syndicate DVD/CD)
I was originally sposed to discuss this one an age ago, when it came in mail from Aquarius. Unfortunately, and through no fault of their own, the spindles that hold the DVD and the CD in place broke in transit and as a result, the CD rubbed against the shards all the way to my home, scratching it up beyond playability. So, you know, it was exchanged, the new one came today (in perfect health) and we're good to go. See the package for "The Misanthrope" is a bit of a delicate thing. It's basically a DVD-sized jewel case, which looks pretty swanky but manipulates rather finickily; I almost broke the "door" off this new copy. Then again, no one ever accused me of having the softest of hands. I digress. "The Misanthrope" is Darkthrone singer/guitarist/bassist/misanthrope Nocturno Culto's directorial debut, a "unique insight into solitude and metal" (how often those two do go hand in hand), accompanied by a 20-ish minute bonus CD featuring music specifically composed and performed by Nocturno for the film's soundtrack.
The film itself is only 56 minutes long, and Nocturno himself describes it as "a strange documentary/fiction piece...a totally weird film with no actual information, but with atmosphere and self irony". That tells about a fraction of the tale, in the sense that "The Misanthrope" isn't really a coherant film at all. It's more or less a collection of a few different scenarios broken up and spread out over 14 chapters...sometimes referencing eachother, but usually not. It's shot almost entirely by Nocturno with a handheld camera, and covers a lot of disparate ground: from opening with footage of Nocturno, Enslaved's Cato and a Metal Hammer scribe ice fishing, to shots of Norwegian forests, towns, and, uh, snowboarders, to "behind the scenes" clips of Darkthrone's "Sardonic Wrath" rehearsal sessions, Aura Noir's contract signing and record release party, and Japan's all-female blackened doom wastelayers Gallhammer playing live (!), it's all over the map. The best way to describe it is part tour documentary (see: Nocturno's trip to Japan), part home movie (see: Nocturno and Darkthrone cohort Fenriz's musings on technology and reality), part black metal featurette (the aforementioned bands and scenes), part art flick (lengthy shots of forests, waterfalls, fallen snow, cross-country skiing)...but mostly anything that Nocturno saw fit to include. There's no denying that this is pretty much a vanity project (as the man himself cautions in the liner notes, "some will find this DVD totally pointless") and ways away from both the black metal exposé and the black metal arthouse juggernaut one might've been expecting, it's still makes for a neat viewing at least once or twice for the more curious observer...Darkthrone nuts, on the other hand, should be all over this. And I almost forgot to mention the coolest part of the whole thing - the black and white scenes of Fenriz tugging a coffin through the snow interspersed throughout the film's duration. What makes it even better/stranger is that I was unwrapping my newly-purchased copy of Django at the very same time I was watching those scenes unfold...
Also worth mentioning that the DVD comes with some bonus features: rare Darkthrone live footage, promo video for "Too Old, Too Cold", and a photo gallery. I lost my DVD remote and can't access anything other than the main movie, but I'm sure they're swell.
The soundtrack, featured sporadically in the film, features 20 minutes of brand new Nocturno Culto (read: not Darkthrone) music created specially for "The Misanthrope". About the only song that even bears a shred of semblance to black metal is the hilarious/bizarre "Necroposers", sounding like a cross between 70s psychedelia, 80s industrial and 90s black metal riffs with Nocturno slurring "Yeah! This is groovy! Let's kick it!" and hacking up a lung through a vocoder. The solo features some serious shredd though, I must say. Other tracks like the opening "Battlehorns", "The Will to Deny", and "The Solution" are guitar-based promenades through dark ambient/CMI furnace rooms, while "The Bastard Son" and "Stay Away" hint at a love for 70s prog and krautrock, the former reminding of King Crimson's "Industry" or "Dig Me" while the latter seemingly inspired by Pink Floyd or Tangerine Dream/Kosmiche spaciousness with a little Goblin/Argento-style Moog/synth shadow. All of it sounds better within the context of the film, though I wouldn't balk at all at hearing a full album's worth of solo Culto aktion.
Darkthrone themselves have a new album due on September 10th, "F.O.A.D.". If you can't wait till then, "The Misanthrope" in conjunction with the band's recently-released "N.W.O.B.H.M." EP should be the horn o' plenty for you to toot on while you wait.
Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the bonus CD