Media Baroness vs. Mastodon: The Problem With Metal Videos
posted by December 10 at 14:05 PMon
This is the new Baroness video for the song “Wanderlust:”
And this is the newest Mastodon video, “Sleeping Giant:”
These are examples of what to do and what not to do in a metal video. Both of these bands are from Georgia, both of them have a relatively similar sound, and they are both on Relapse Records. Although I love Baronessí record, this video frustrates the hell out of me. Thereís no point in filling a video with interesting, narrative imagery if youíre not going to be able to bring those images to some sort of logical conclusion. I donít care if a video doesnít have a point as long as it doesnít lead you on for four minutes in the assumption that it will. Okay, so thereís trapper guy shooting at rabbits, red lady dancing and playing with leaves, fat guy who also seems to have killed some animals (and heís thirsty), and there are some people in suits walking along the beach. When the song reaches its conclusion and the band comes to a sudden halt, what happens? Trapper guy looks over his shoulder. At what? What the fuck is this video about? Why is he pouring blood on those sticks? Damn it, Baroness, you tricked me into thinking your video was going to be about something, anything. That sucks.
This Mastodon video is actually the first from them that Iíve liked. They, as well as virtually all other metal bands, have been guilty of making ďpointlessĒ videos full of imagery with no conclusion. But this video is great. The campy sci-fi effects look awesome, everything is obviously a cheap model Ė itís visually captivating. The story isnít immediately clear, but itís fascinating: there are some aliens growing dinosaurs on some guy/hill, and Dr. Doom is overseeing. Good enough. When it comes time to pull it all together, the four god-like stone heads of Mastodon shoot lasers out their eyes and everything explodes. Brilliant. It doesnít matter that the video didnít say anything poignant. It was fun to watch and it had an ending. Why is that so hard?
Why do modern metal videos almost always suck? Iím hard pressed to think of current metal bands putting together anything decent that isnít just a splicing of live footage. Sure, it can be argued that most videos suck regardless of genre, but at least rap videos are full of hedonism, and pop videos are full of hilarious human failure. Those things are inherently entertaining. Metal bands insist on telling tales, and all too often they are bad storytellers.