Hate, fear, misanthropy, and isolation: Such is the stuff of black metal. That goes double for the genre’s subcategory, one-man black metal bands. The first installment of a new three-part documentary, One Man Metal, sets out to expose and explore the underbellies of these artists: black metal practitioners who shun even the basic human contact of playing in a band with other people. Instead, they prefer writing, playing, and recording everything themselves, usually in a room that looks like a self-sentenced prison cell.
The documentary is off to a good start, with interviewer JR Robinson speaking with black metal recluses like Oakland’s Jef Whitehead (a.k.a. Wrest of Leviathan), Tasmania’s Russell Menzies (a.k.a. Sin Nanna of Striborg), and Los Angeles’ Scott Conner (a.k.a. Malefic of Xasthur). Some subjects—such as Striborg’s siphoning of inspiration from “the natural realm” [cue footage of goats]—are handled with sensitivity and depth. Others topics are neglected entirely, most notably Whitehead’s conviction this year for domestic abuse (the original charge was rape) and the fact that he also plays in bands like Nachtmystium with real, live people. That said, Whitehead delivers the best line of this installment: “There’s a certain honesty in the fuckin’ picked-on loner fuckin’ screaming his head off and playing powerful guitar.”
The next two installments of One Man Metal will be released in the coming weeks via Noisey.