Daniel Rooney

Diabolus in Lux: Black Metal Theory and Cinema

Diabolus in Lux attempts to map the co-ordinates of what might be deemed a ‘Black Metal Film Theory,’ a discourse that has arised through encounters between critical theory and extreme music over recent years. The extreme music, black metal, is itself an aesthetic highly indebted to themes related to the occult, from ritual in live performances to Satanism and Paganism. As noted by Benjamin Noys, there is a potentially radical aesthetic inherent to black metal. It is this potential, alongside concepts within Black Metal Theory such as ‘Demonology’ and the central motif of ‘Blackening’ as a form of infection, fusing Satanism with philosophy, which acts as a background for the proposed investigation of cinema. This latter is often absent in Black Metal Theory, although the genre’s relation to art has been readily explored. This thesis proposes to engage cinema through this lens. Central to this undertaking is the tale of the Fall from Eden, which saw Satan open the space to consider whether or not to obey God’s command not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. This concept directly correlates with the project undertaken by Deathspell Omega, who, contrary to much of the Satanism which abounds in black metal generally, posit a metaphysical Satanism influenced by, most notably, Georges Bataille. The thesis explores Bataille’s work with the group Acéphale, relating their views on the Diabolical, the Sacred and Profane to Black Metal and Cinema.  Alongside with the film theory of Gilles Deleuze, these are the elements of a speculative lens through which to read horror or Black Metal cinema.