15 October 2019 | trane-04399
Arty heavy metal opera, every bit as impressive as the line-up suggests
When I first glanced at the early, not complete line-up of 'Gutterdammerung', I gasped. 'Um, what?'
This was a joke, right? I mean, it said: Iggy Pop and Lemmy and Tom Araya from Slayer and Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age and Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal. Did it say 'Grace Jones'? Apparently, it did. I saw the name of one of my all-time heroes, Mr. Henry Rollins.
I got lightheaded, and a bit dizzy. How on earth did this guy Björn Tagemose manage to get all these music icons on board for what seemed like a totally crazy idea - I mean: a silent type movie (it's not really silent, as it features talking and sound effects, but it looks like something that was made during the great era of the silent film) in black and white, projected on a large screen in a theatre, accompanied by a live rock band? Seriously? The question lingered for about five seconds, and then excitement kicked in. Man, I have to see this.
Then, Nina Hagen and Slash were added to the bill. Mark Lanegan. The guys from Vollbeat and Justice. Yeah, we got the message: 'Gutterdammerung' was something else all right.
'Gutterdammerung' is not a movie. It's a weird and fun and exciting and arty mishmash. Call it a heavy metal opera, if you like. Or: a traveling rock circus, centered round a beautifully shot and stylised film. An immersive rock and roll experience? (Yuck.) Whatever, just as long as you remember this: it's extremely beautiful, and so much fun.
The movie itself is lots of things. A big middle finger to religious fanaticism. A homage to all those tongue-in-cheek metal shows, with their pyrotechnics and juvenile behaviour. A nod towards Tagemose's fetish flick 'Häxan', a Swedish-Danish horror movie from the 1920s. The imagery of 'Gutterdammerung' calls to mind Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' and 'Nosferatu' by F.W. Murnau, but occasionally it's also goofy, and it's chock-full of references. Which are of course impossible to grasp during the show itself, as you're busy doing some serious headbanging. That is, if you're not just standing there, stroking your chin to the live band churning out tunes like 'War Pigs' (Black Sabbath), 'Dazed and Confused' (Led Zep), 'Ace of Spades' (Mötörhead) and, um, Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana' - in which case you look like an idiot. Which can be fun as well, if that's your thing.
Anyway. 'Gutterdammerung' was every bit as impressive as the line-up suggests. It had me gasping for air when Iggy Pop threw that guitar down to earth, and it gave me goosebumps when the band dove into Slayer's 'Raining Blood'. It scared the wits out of me when Mr. Rollins yelled his orders, and made me cheer when the late Lemmy Kilmister - who else would play the army general? - gave the order to 'Kill 'em all'.
And, most of all, it made me realise: this guy Björn Tagemose is like a blacksmith who created something unique out of rock 'n' roll's very own core. A movie that's half pretty blue-eyed angel, half white-hot stinking devil, forged and hammered into a hell of an experience.
You may love every second of it. It might confuse you. It might have you grinning like the Cheshire Cat from 'Alice in Wonderland'. You may also beg to differ. But in the latter case, please keep in mind the words of the late Mr. Lemmy Kilmister, who said about 'Gutterdammerung' - well, it was something along the lines of: "If you don't like it, you can get lost." And indeed, you can.