Visual Rhetoric – August 2017

Monday, 4th September 2017

While the glory days of Headbangers Ball (or MTV itself, for that matter) are far behind us, it hasn’t stopped bands from using videos as a way to release their music to the public. With many people using YouTube as a way to discover bands, particularly in metal, we at DR concocted this new monthly feature as a way of sharing some videos that go above and beyond the usual tropes (read: band playing in dingy basement). Be they label-aided or independent acts, sometimes all that is needed is a bit of creativity to grab a new fan or two. We also thought it might be fun to look back at some older videos (retro, so to speak) as well. This first month we take a look at Gone in April, Jag Panzer, Paradise Lost, Phantom Elite (pictured above), Threshold, Trollfest, and turn back the clock to the inseparable pair of Soilwork’s “Rejection Role” and In Flames’ “Trigger.”

Gone in April
“As Hope Welcomes Death”
Threads of Existence

We first investigated Gone in April’s Threads of Existence back in 2016. It was an enjoyable hybrid of varied schools of thought (including symphonic, death, and progressive metal) and contained Steve Di Giorgio (Death/Testament) and Yanic Bercier (ex-Quo Vadis) in their ranks. It’s worth noting the production values in this video, particularly for an independent act, as the WWII-inspired story that is interspersed with the band playing is as top notch as any label-funded release. It’s a particularly enjoyable and emotive (don’t worry, there’s still plenty of energy and aggression) song, and the video makes it an even stronger one. In addition to the WWII theme, there’s also some interesting acrobatic work at the end of the track. Easy to tell they poured their heart and soul into this one. – Kyle McGinn (Gone in April on Facebook)

Jag Panzer
“Foggy Dew”
The Deviant Chord

This track is an old Irish ballad from the 1900s that chronicles the Easter Uprising of 1916, a battle cry for the Irish to fight for the cause of Ireland rather than England during World War I. Guitarist Mark Briody spent significant hours putting together this lyric video with the band reinterpreting the song in their own traditional metal style, using Celtic harmonies to flesh out the melodies and hooks. It’s enjoyable to see the historical photos and documents against the calligraphy and visual words, definitely a tricky song for Harry ‘The Tyrant’ Conklin to wrap his head around with “o’er the Liffey’s swell” or “Suvla or Sud-El-Bar” lines. Melding history with metal in a cover is always a good thing and Jag Panzer achieve a memorable track as a result. – Matt Coe (Jag Panzer official website)

Paradise Lost
“Blood and Chaos”
Nuclear Blast

The shortest and most satisfying cut on the band’s new Medusa foray, “Blood and Chaos” finds Paradise Lost reaching back into their Shades of God/Icon back pocket for a trip down memory lane. However, the band, as it has often shown over the course of the near-30-year existence, remain fresh and viable, guided by the multi-faceted vocals of Nick Holmes (he’s singing and growling here) and the distinguishable lead melodies of Greg Mackintosh. The video for “Blood and Chaos” is somewhat emblematic of the song title, depicting the means in which people will go to when resources are depleted and options are limited. Survival is paramount. Somewhat of a preview on where things are going, eh? – David E. Gehlke (Paradise Lost on Facebook)

Phantom Elite
Album TBA

This fresh upstart contains some pull with Marina La Torraca (Exit Eden), Sander Gommans (After Forever), and Eelco Van der Meer (Ex Libris) among their ranks. Their second single from an as-of-yet untitled debut set to release later this year, “Wasteland” splits time between some dark band close-ups and some apocalyptic desert shots with La Torraca. The most intriguing feature about the video itself is how it cuts, particularly between band members, in sync with the music. It’s a really cool touch that adds to the flavor of the track – one that benefits from an anthemic chorus, catchy groove, strings, and progressive leanings. An effective introduction that should bring in more of a crowd by the time their debut rolls out. – Kyle McGinn (Phantom Elite on Facebook)

“Small Dark Lines”
Legends of the Shires
Nuclear Blast

Aware of the fact that the visual medium lends itself well to progressive metal, Threshold intertwine a conceptual theme relying on the spontaneous action of nine ordinary people painting individual lines on their bodies for each regret they have around performance footage of the band. You feel the hesitancy from these people transform into a cleansing of sorts – buckets of paint thrown over the heads, lathering themselves in black, embodying the transformation as the water washes away those regrets. The driving riffs, pulsating keyboards and impassioned vocal delivery make this one of Threshold’s most compelling singles to date. This video proves the multi-dimensional levels progressive metal can achieve through audio/visual content. – Matt Coe (Threshold official website)

“Hen of Hades”
NoiseArt Records

Always a band to look out for visually, Trollfest has a knack for designing videos that match the humor and tone of the music itself. Case in point for “Hen of Hades,” which is the second video that the band’s own guitarist Mr. Seidel (see the video for “Fräulein Helluva” as well) has animated. Equally as over-the-top and droll as the music, particularly the beginning, with the Hen of Hades slicing up everything from dogs to puppies to Care Bears. The animation style alone is fantastic, having that old school cartoon feel as well as some nice, bright colors to counter some of the amusing gore. One could see the band utilizing this format quite a bit in the future, particularly with this album run with the journey to the center of the Earth theme. There’s a reason why cartoons tend to stand out as metal videos, and this one is too much fun not to check out. – Kyle McGinn (Trollfest on Facebook)

Retro video:
“Rejection Role”
Figure Number Five
Nuclear Blast

In Flames
Reroute to Remain
Nuclear Blast

Hard to talk about either of these videos without mentioning the other. Essentially the same, with the band members switching roles for each – the bands goofily antagonize each other (throwing snowballs, mean glares, holding signs, fighting, etc) while the other performs. It’s a fun concept, initially designed due to then Internet rumors that the bands didn’t like each other (not to mention the number of comparisons between the two as rising melodeath acts embracing a more mainstream sound). Also cool how each video loops back into the other (a band entering a truck that will be used at the beginning of the next video). Back then, being a big fan of both bands, my early 20s self thought it was one of the coolest things ever. Nowadays, there’s equal enjoyment to look at the line-up, with both acts losing a number of members featured in the videos below. – Kyle McGinn (Soilwork on Facebook) (In Flames on Facebook)

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