A Brutally Honest Review of the New “Lords of Chaos” Film

Lords of Chaos

Spoiler Alert; although I assume most inclined to watch the movie already know the bloody details of the “satanic black metal underground” in Norway.

Most in the metal community rightfully cringed while viewing the trailer for the recently released “Lords of Chaos” film. “Lords of Chaos” was released on Friday, February 15, 2019. The film was directed by former Bathory drummer Jonas Akerland and starred Rory Culkin (Macaulay Culkin’s younger brother) as Euronymous and Emory Cohen as Varg. It is loosely based on a true story as it was depicted in the bestselling novel “Lords of Chaos” by Michael Moynihan, which is widely known to have grossly exaggerated the events that took place between the infamous “Black Circle” in Norway in the early 90s. Despite the fact that the book is an obvious exaggeration of the events, reading it is still much more worth one’s time than watching this absolute disaster of a film.

The first notable detail was director Akerlund’s odd decision for Euronymous’ character, played by Rory Culkin, to provide a “Wonder Years” style narration to the film. This gave the movie an immediate air of cheesiness. And although the film did not appear to be taking itself too seriously, any real chances at humor were lost under a thick veil of discomfort that seemed to plague all the actors onscreen. As if watching a high school production, it was extremely obvious the characters were acting, which made them difficult to connect with.

What especially irked me was the disappointing portrayal of Varg Vikernes in the film. Although the man is completely bat-shit crazy, what makes him so dangerous is his intelligence. “Lords of Chaos,” however, portrayed Varg as slow-witted, reckless and a bit of a follower. They focused heavily on his involvement in national socialism but not all on how role-playing games influenced him. Later in the film, when his involvement in politics was supposed to be getting deeper, Cohen’s dedication seemed contrived or forced. I just didn’t buy it. Even his burgeoning anger toward Euronymous seemed disingenuous.

The movie was also sloppily put together. The depiction of Bard Faust, for example, was particularly thoughtless. The character is introduced only in passing at Euronymous’ store, Helvete. Moments later he’s depicted brutally stabbing a homosexual man to death. There’s little to no lead up to this horrific scene. It’s 0 to 100 with this character.

It’s flubs like these that led to, perhaps, the most disappointing aspect of the film — the utter lack of relevant music in the soundtrack. Aside from “Freezing Moon” and “Necrolust,” which were repeatedly played in the score, practically no Norwegian black metal appeared in the film. This is because the bands refused to sign off on the rights to the music after reading the script — which blatantly admits it’s full of lies. Instead of modifying the script to gain the support of the bands portrayed in the film, Akerlund went ahead and began shooting and it shows.

Dead- Lords of Chaos
Dead

Although I have very little positive feedback for this film, I must admit the portrayal of Dead’s suicide and the stabbings of Euronymous and Magne Andreassen were exceptionally brutal, which is fitting for such a dark story. They did not hold back on the blood or shy away from showing Dead blow his brains out. In fact, though he laid it on pretty thick, Dead’s portrayal in the film was probably my favorite. The book talks a lot about Dead macabre obsession with death, road kill and astral projection and the movie seems to accurately depict the character.

“Lords of Chaos” the novel

Despite having spent years in conceptualization, as a final product, “Lords of Chaos” seemed rushed. In interviews, the actors seem to know little outside the conventional mythos, and many elements of the whole story were left out of the film. The lack of overall character development made the story difficult to engage. At the end of the day, what was missing from this narrative was a purpose. Though Euronymous’ admission at the end was surprising, the movie seemed to be in a hurry to fit in all the events without attempting to convey a message of any kind. Overall, I’d say stream this one for the lulz. This is not a serious production in any sense of the word.

3/10

 

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1914- “Blind Leading the Blind”: An Underrated 2018 Banger

1914- bllind leading the blind album cover

I’m admittedly a bit late to the party in discovering this effort but sometimes an album crushes you so hard it’s impossible to ignore — 3 months old or not. Ukrainian war-themed blackened death metal band 1914‘s sophomore release “The Blind Leading the Blind” is memorable enough to become timeless.

The album immediately crushes the listener, opening with a machine gun riff and pummeling blast beats, fitting for the album’s war inspired theme. “The Blind Leading the Blind” has more range than the simple, yet catchy, lightening fast melodies of classic battle-driven blackened death metal; the album unfolds into various progressions that capture an unpredictable, anti-war theme.

On the overall theme of the band, front man Dmytro Kumar says he’s always been fascinated by WWI, particularly the impact it had on the Ukrainian nation — nearly destroying it in its wake. His obsession led him to study war archaeology and he’s even gone on archaeological digs.

In an interview with Echoes and Dust Magazine he says “I love films, books, stories, artifacts of this war. And no, it`s not about idealism. You cannot idealize any war – because war is always about shitty politics and bullshit propaganda, death, mud, mass graves, suffering, broken lives, despair. I just love history and this strange feeling – when you dig up a soldier, who died here 100 years ago, you sit down near these bones which once were human, with all human’s stuff – love, feelings, hope, some hobbies, maybe he was a beer lover, traveler, good musician, painter, maybe just good father or son, whose parents were waiting at home, you think – why and for what did he die? Why this fucking Homo sapiens always killing each other? I don’t know, I just don’t have an answer.”

1914-band-pic

This complex attitude on history and war shines through in the overall sound of the album. Though “The Blind Leading the Blind” has several intense moments that absolutely crush, there are progressions into slower, more emotion driven interludes and interesting samples of soldiers marching or jaunty war anthems. Staying true to their Ukrainian heritage, 1914 even includes some folk elements at times.

In many ways, “The Blind Leading the Blind” stands in a class of its own, but there are some similarities to the avant garde appeal of early Septic Flesh here — with fewer symphonic elements. The seamless, yet schizophrenic way they incorporate the cello on tracks such as “Passchenhell” definitely hearkens back to the frenzied sounds of “Communion.” But I think this band’s biggest strength is their natural sense of melody and their ability to slow and speed the tempo at just the right moments.

I particularly noticed this on the second track, entitled “A7V Mephisto,” which starts out slow and brooding only to bludgeon the listener at just the right time. The band strikes the perfect balance between plodding, melancholy bridges, dirge laden interludes and face ripping intensity. This is a band that definitely deserves more attention. As of right now, the band is only signed to a small European label called Archaic Sound, but with a second album this strikingly good, I think we expect to be hearing a lot more from 1914 in the future.

9/10

 

1349 Shows Range With New Single “Dødskamp”

For most black metal devotees the mention of 1349 conjures up images of kvlter than thou, crude production, raw, Urgehal style aggression and Belphegor-esque aesthetics. The sound is war hungry, orthodox black metal with death metal blasts and thrashy licks — a simple, albeit unmemorable, blitzkrieg cocktail no true black metal fan could complain too much about.

While 1349’s prior release, “Massive Cauldron of Chaos,” does show their progression throughout their 20 year career by emphasizing song writing, speed and melody, their most recent single, “Dødskamp” shows an even more unique growth for the band.

The song is a bit of an ode to famous Norwegian painter of “The Scream” fame, Edvard Munch. Guitarist, Archaon expressed admiration for the acclaimed painter’s dark and depressive style and named the track after Munch’s painting “Dødskamp” (which translates to death match).

dødskamp
Dødskamp: Munch

Black Metal has always maintained a close relationship with fine art, as is evidenced by its dramatic aesthetic and attention to atmosphere and mood. The documentary “Until the Light Takes Us” largely takes place at a black metal themed exhibit by Norwegian artist, Bjarne Melgaard, featuring Satyricon founder and 1349 member, Frost.

His performance art alone is as grim as a kiss to the perineum, complete with fire and bloodletting.  Fenriz discusses the controversial works, as well as the history of black metal, throughout the film.

Even Gaahl is a former art student and prolific painter. Although intensely private about his art, Gaahl does showcase a few of his pieces in a popular Noisey documentary. 1349 transcends mediums, however, by writing a dark hymn in honor of Dødskamp and encompassing the balance of melancholy and anxiety that characterizes Munch’s work within the complex progressions of the track.

That said, this is still 1349, in all their bullet belt steeped, raw ferocity. What we have here is a sign of true progression within the 5 years since their last release. With “Dødskamp,” 1349 has arguably become a bit more intelligent since their earlier, more image obsessed days. They’re focusing more melody and atmosphere while not deviating so far from their classic thrashy appeal they become unrecognizable.

Dødskamp” is available for digital purchase on Bandcamp now. The 10″, including the live bonus track, “Atomic Chapel,” will be available for purchase on April 5, 2019.

 

Dismember Reunites For an Exclusive Show

scandinavia deathfest official flyer

The metal community is reeling after a jaw dropping announcement that Swedish melodic death metal powerhouses, Dismember, will be reuniting with the original lineup for an exclusive show at Scandinavia Deathfest in Stockholm.

The band has been on hiatus for over 7 years and has not released new material for over a decade so this is huge news for fans of Swedish death metal, of whom Dismember is among the most celebrated acts.

Dismember has had one of the most consistent track records within the melodic death metal genre; never waning in intensity from the heavy hitting classic “Like an Everflowing Stream” in 1991 to their most recent full length release “Dismember” in 2008.

The band couldn’t pick a better time to reunite as fans are hungrier than ever for the crushing sounds of old school death metal and recent trends in the genre have been going in heavier, more orthodox directions. Bands such as 1914, Tomb Mold and Monstrosity showcase this drift back to a rawer, more pure death metal sound. Will 2020 be the year of Dismember?

Though the band has not dropped any hints of plans to return to the studio or write new material (yet),  Fred Etsby (drums), David Blomqvist (guitars), Robert Sennebäck (vocals/guitars), Matti Kärki (vocals) and Richard Cabeza’s (bass) return to the stage should leave fans anticipating great things to come. Dismember knows how much this reunion will mean to fans and their choice to headline, arguably the largest death-fest in their region, is a massive teaser for what the future holds for the band.

Dismember will share the stage with Nuclear Assault, Demilich, Benediction and Undergang among others for what’s shaping up to be a massive event. Scandinavia Deathfest is scheduled for October 11-12 in Stockholm. Americans get your passports ready now, this is going to be one hell of a show you’re not going to want to miss.

 

 

Nasheim Streaming New Track!

Swedish one man atmospheric black metal project Nasheim is set to release his second full length LP Through indie label Northern Silence Productions on February 22. “Jord och Aska” (Swedish for “Earth and Ash”) will be the first effort from Nasheim mastermind, Erik Grahn in almost 5 years. Luckily for fans, Grahn gave us a sneak peek of the new album via Bandcamp and so far it does not disappoint!

The 20 minute long epic,”Att sväva över vidderna” takes the listener on a melancholic journey into the gravelly pits of utter hopelessness and despair with its heavy-handed ambiance and thick, guitar driven melodies.

Nasheim stands alongside depressive and blackgaze contemporaries such as Alcest, Agalloch and Thy Light. What sets their sound apart is the fearlessness to delve into realms outside the typical milieu of the genre by implementing epic, clean vocals and undistorted guitars into the mix without detracting from the mournful elements that give this project its overall appeal.

Despite its 20 minute length, “Att sväva över vidderna” leaves listeners wanting more. The track entirely cuts off at the end as though it’s supposed to move directly into the next track effortlessly. To me this entails “Jord och aska” will be the kind of album that’s meant to be taken in as a whole, and if fans can predict anything from Nasheim’s previous efforts, this will definitely be the case.

Frankly, I’m in love with song and can’t stop smashing the repeat button. If this is any indication of the quality of the full album, I can safely say we have a lot to be exicted about. You can pre-order “Jord och aska” on Bandcamp. Seriously, give this guy your money. This is true art.

Underworld Zine’s 10 Best Metal Albums of 2018

2018 was yet another year filled with political division. From the Cavanaugh hearing, to Trump shutting down the government, to Adam Darski taking a photo with prominent Nazi larper/black metal legend Rob Darken, the drama just seems to get worse every year.

Despite all the commotion, more than a few bands released jaw dropping albums in 2018. Some prolific and legendary acts “retired” with a bang by releasing surprisingly crushing final efforts and some newer acts shocked us with insane debuts. Compiling this list was brutally difficult given the sheer volume of sick new releases and settling on an order was nearly impossible. Seriously, I’m still debating on the order, but for now, here are the top 10 best albums of 2018

10. Ennui- End of the Circle

Georgian funeral doom outfit Ennui’s fourth full length album “End of the Circle” was an unexpected gem for me this year. This is a band that opened my mind to the funeral doom genre. Previously, I had been too musically ADHD to truly grasp the beauty of funeral doom, but Ennui’s infusion of blackened ambiance into their otherwise traditional doom sound was able to hold my attention. That says something for a band who opens with a 30 minute epic.

I knew when I didn’t want to skip the opening track after 15 minutes, instead finding myself entirely immersed in Ennui’s melancholy microcosm, that “End of the Circle” was among the 10 best metal albums of the year.

9. Yob- Our Raw Heart

Oregon trio, Yob, is a band everyone has been talking about lately. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt cheated death by overcoming a near fatal intestinal disease but, while inspiring, “Our Raw Heart” is an LP worth noticing tragedy or not.

Scheidt’s brush with death was the inspiration for the sound and lyrical themes on “Our Raw Heart” and it shows through every impassioned wail and gloomy break on the album. In just 7 tracks, this release takes the listener on a dark journey of epic proportion that’s honest, heartfelt and raw.

8. The Spirit- Sounds From the Vortex

This album floored me the first time I heard it. With a sound plucked directly from early 90s Stockholm, The Spirit is truly a force to be reckoned with in the realm of melodic black metal.

Once more, the band understands the importance of memorable song writing. While the melodies on “Sounds From the Vortex” are tight overall, they maintain an anthemic quality that resonates well in live performances. Picked up by Nuclear Blast upon the release of their debut, this German foursome is one to watch in the coming years.

7. Mare- Ebony Tower

Despite being active since 2003 according to Metal Archives, Mare released their debut album “Ebony Tower” in August of 2018. In an era when Poland, Sweden and Russia are dominating black metal, Mare seeks to put Norway back on the map in a big way.

Ebony Tower” maintains a perfect balance between avant garde and conventional elements in their sound, which creates a truly enjoyable and memorable experience for the listener. What I love about this release is its flow. With its  contrast between melodic interludes and violent breaks, “Ebony Tower” is both kvlt and easily palatable. With a debut like this, I can’t wait to see what’s to come from Mare.

6. Immortal- Northern Chaos Gods

I think the entire metal community was both shocked and worried when Demonaz and Horgh decided to release an Immortal album sans Abbath. Little did we know we were in for a pleasant surprise when the album killed it.

Northern Chaos Gods” is a welcoming homage to the band’s best era. The album is eerily reminiscent of “At the Heart of Winter” in the best possible way. Honestly, I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m happy about the split because now we’re getting twice the good material from both Abbath as a solo act and Immortal. What can I say, I’m greedy.

5. Unanimated- Annihilated (EP)

I was honestly surprised by the lack of attention Unanimated’s comeback EP received this year. For their first release in over 9 years, these Swedish melodic black metal giants returned with a frostbitten bang.

Annihilation floored me, excited me and left me speechless. Listening to this EP gave me all those happy feelings that come from hearing perfectly executed metal. I couldn’t more stoked that these guys are back.

4. Monstrosity- The Passage of Existence

Like most people, my introduction to Monstrosity came from Mark English’s involvement with Deicide. I’m so glad I discovered Monstrosity and “The Passage of Existence” though because not only does album crush, Mark English has shreds for days.

Monstrosity is a palatable form of OSDM with thrashy interludes and killer solos. This album is truly memorable and easy to digest. Good death metal here.

3. Arkona- Khram

2018 saw another development in the world of metal; Arkona got dark as fuck. Seriously “Khram” surprised me with its range and versatility. The band is clearly taking risks with this album, writing longer songs and going in a heavier direction, and the risks are paying off big time.

Despite the band’s slight deviation in sound, Arkona has managed to stay true to their folky roots. What “Khram” showcases is the band’s ability to grow. This album hits in all the right places.

2. Judas Priest- Firepower

While compiling this list I felt it would be almost blasphemous to not include Judas Priest’s 18th full length release “Firepower” near the top. Judas Priest did what so many other classic metal bands fail to do every year; release an album that’s not only relevant in the modern day, but is an instant classic.

Many people are calling “Firepower” “Painkiller” part II and I have to agree with that assertion. When a classic band like Priest releases a new album, fans usually pray there are at least 1 or 2 good tracks on it, but every song on “Firepower” is an absolute banger.

1. Tomb Mold- Manor of Infinite Forms

As I said earlier, figuring out the order for this list was nearly impossible, but Canadian old school death metal outfit, Tomb Mold was an easy pick for the top spot. What makes “Manor of Infinite Forms” so absolutely crushing is its dedication to the true death metal style that defined the 90s.

This is a band that isn’t shying away from producing something absolutely disgusting, sickening and brutal to the core. All these elements make for a perfect death metal record and a top rank in Underworld’s best metal of the year list.

2018 gave us some great metal. Let’s hope 2019 delivers even better metal. Happy New Year! Hails!

Honorable Mentions:

Deicide- Overtures of Blasphemy

Bane- Esoteric Formulae

Nocturnal Graves- Titan

Satan- Cruel Magic

Uada- Cult of a Dying Sun

Top 5 Most Overrated Classic Metal Bands

The term overrated is indeed a favorite among metalheads. As a group, we love to quibble over which band is better than another as a kind of social primer. That said, there is a reason metalheads often find themselves citing bands as overrated. The mainstream media often gives undeserved attention to sub par bands while great musicians largely get ignored.

After explaining to your coworkers for the 100th time that “no, you don’t listen to screamo” it’s tempting to vent to your friends about the bands all those people continuously ask you about. After gathering your votes on Twitter, these are the top 5 most overrated classic metal bands.

5. KISS, AC/DC, Guns and Roses, Van Halen or Any Other Hard Rock Band the Media thinks is Metal

One of the most frustrating things about being a metalhead is continuously having to explain to people what metal even is, or what it’s supposed to sound like. Media outlets and popular music journalists have never given metal the attention it deserves and have often exalted hard rock bands as arbiters of the metal sound.

That Metal Show
These guys only talked about metal 10% of the time. Actual statistics.

Thankfully, this is beginning to change, but it wasn’t that long ago that VH1 was airing metal documentaries in which the heaviest band mentioned was Twisted Sister or Skid Row. While there is nothing wrong with Twisted Sister their sound definitely doesn’t have the qualities of a classic metal band such as Kreator, Slayer or even Sabbath. They simply lack the aggression and misanthropic air that defines metal.

As I said, this is beginning to change, and media outlets are starting to understand what makes metal metal, but this attitude is ultimately what led to the demise of great things like Headbangers Ball. Because extreme metal is a shocking sound for many, it’s tempting for many music journalists to attempt to make the music palatable for a larger audience.

Journalists are finally beginning to understand, however, the massive global appeal of extreme metal. When met with this attitude in the future, all metalheads have to do is simply explain that KISS is not a metal band.

4. Metallica

Perhaps no band in history has sold out harder than Metallica. Yet, despite only releasing 4 good albums, this band has gone down in history as one of the best classic metal bands of all time according to music journalists and the public alike. This is annoying as all hell.

metallica
Oh look it’s Nickleback!

Most metalheads can’t even remember the last time they listened to Master of Puppets or Ride the Lightening (2 of the acceptable Metallica releases) yet people can’t stop bringing them up whenever metal is mentioned.

The fact is, Metallica is a great example of an overrated metal band simply because of fact that there were several other, more exciting thrash bands in the Bay Area that were overlooked because Metallica stole the limelight. Bands such as Forbidden, Nuclear Assault, Death Angel or Vio-Lence barely get mentions much of the time, despite arguably being heavier, but Metallica, oh they’re right up there with Sabbath. Yeah, okay.

3. Death

I’m going to catch hell for this one, but yes, Death is definitely a perfect example of an overrated classic metal band. What irks me most about this band is how they’re treated like the end all be all of death metal. Diehard metalheads, however, have endless debates about the origins of death metal.

During Death’s inception, as Mantis even, there was a move toward heavier sounds (growled vocals, blast beats etc.) among many artists in the thrash scene.

Bands such as Sepultura, Kreator and Sacarfago were releasing albums that were arguably heavier than the milieu of upbeat, speed focused thrash that had come before. While their music could still be considered thrash, death metal definitely has its roots in these sounds. Could we call this proto-death metal? Did I just invent a thing?

*I think I hear the sound of death metal being born

That said, most metalheads are in agreement that the albums Seven Churches by Possessed and Scream Bloody Gore by Death sparked the death metal genre. I’m not here to dispute that. Maybe I lean more toward Seven Churches, but I digress.

I’m not here to dismiss the greatness of classics such as Scream Bloody Gore or Leprosy. The reason I cite Death as an overrated classic metal band has to do with

A. The rabid nature of their fans.

B. The mediocrity within the entirety of their work.

Death fans are really another breed. Yes, I will concede that Death was a prime impetus in the creation of the death metal genre but does that mean that we stop there and not tip our hats to all the other incredible acts, who are arguably more interesting and heavier than Death. Any fan obsessed with a single band, or worse, a single album, cough *Individual Thought Patterns* cough, is just annoying.

death_-_individual_thought_patterns_front
Individual Snooze Patterns

As I mentioned earlier, Death was a part of a movement of thrash, as a whole, experimenting with heavier sounds. Bands such as Kreator and Sepultura were also central in spawning the death metal sound. Chuck Schuldiner did work harder than most in his time, I’ll give him that, but this move toward death metal was organic within the scene.

Furthermore, Death’s sound began to weaken and move toward more progressive sounds later in his career. While other bands were getting more brutal and uncompromising in their aggression, Death was releasing albums such as Symbolic which, despite having a few really good tracks on it, is clearly an album designed to appeal to the masses.

I know I’m going to get shit for this, but according to polls, I’m not alone in my belief that Death is an overrated metal band and I’m a bit tired of constantly hearing about how Chuck is god. There’s a million other bands I listen to more and find more interesting than Death.

2. Venom

In case I didn’t infuriate enough people by disgracing the name of Chuck Schuldiner, I’ll add Venom to the list of classic metal bands that are grossly overrated in the scene. Literally every book, article and documentary on black metal cites Venom as the inventors of the genre.

I hold umbrage with this notion because I argue it’s inaccurate. Despite releasing an album entitled Black Metal, Venom no more represents the message of modern black metal than Steppenwolf did heavy metal.

*Cronos distances himself from modern black metal

They certainly had a dangerous image in their time. I remember being a youngin’ and being shocked by their occult facade and violent stage presence. The problem is that this band began and ended at image.

Early Venom has very little in common was what black metal became, and Cronos will admit that. In fact, the entire band continually seeks to distance themselves from modern black metal.

Bathory is the clear first choice for inventing the true black metal sound. Quorthon never wrote anything that sounded like “Teacher’s Pet” and also shared a love the Nordic culture and landscape that would eventually becoming a defining component of the black metal genre.

*the birth of the modern black metal sound

Yet despite Cronos‘ consistent dismissal of black metal or the mediocre, rock and roll air of many Venom tracks, Venom continuously gets praise and recognition for inventing black metal. This needs to stop.

1. Pantera

To the people of whom Pantera’s placement on this list upsets, just know that I am laughing at you…..hard. There are endless reasons Pantera is the number one most overrated metal band of all time.

Glam Metal Pantera
Let’s never forget Pantera used to be a bunch of glam metal pussies….

First of all, who gave a bunch of bros the authority to define classic metal bands anyway? Pummeling through the thin walls of trailer parks everywhere, Pantera are unequivocally the kings bro-ness and douche baggery from their meathead inspired aggression down to Phil Anselmo’s white supremacist leanings.

Frankly, I’m not here to argue about Anselmo’s racism, though. My real beef with this band is the fact that, despite music journalists categorizing them as thrash, Pantera invented the douchiest genre of metal— nu metal.

Pantera Fan Meme
Y’all fans are a meme

Basically anytime metal sees a semblance of mainstream success it turns into something unrecognizable to diehard metalheads. This idea is central to the creation of nu metal. Nu metal was a stripped down and castrated form of metal that could be easily consumed by the masses and Pantera’s comical, adolescent hostility was the perfect cocktail to incubate the creation of bands such as Korn.

I really wouldn’t care that much if Pantera weren’t regarded as a legendary classic metal band in rank with bands like Maiden by so many media outlets and people. Despite admittedly having a few decent albums, Pantera is essentially the Mountain Dew of metal, yet, along with Metallica, they are probably the most recognizable name in the genre. This is why they’re the most overrated metal band of all time.

Can you think of any classic metal bands you think are overrated? Mention them in the comments. Also, should I write a list of overrated modern bands? Let me know. Underrated metal bands coming soon.

Only the True Dwell Here

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