Here at NO CLEAN SINGING, we don’t spend much time looking at metal music videos. Mainly, that’s because we’re in too much of a damned hurry to get our shit done for the day — which includes imagining something to write about, writing about it, feeding the cat (that would be me), reading other metal blogs, working our fucking day jobs, dealing with the rest of the shit in our daily lives, etc., etc.
And there’s also the feeling, grown through experience, that most extreme metal music videos are going to be imminently forgettable — even when we really dig the songs — so really, why bother?
But every now and then, we see something that defies our presumptions. Case in point: the new video of a song called “Sleepwalker” by Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive. One of our NCS collaborators, IntoTheDarkness, brought this thing to our attention a few days ago, insisting that we had to watch it without delay.
Coincidentally, about 5 minutes before getting that urgent message, we’d seen a write-up on the video by Axl Rosenberg over at Metal Sucks. He thought certain aspects of the video were “kinda cool” but thought the song was “FUCKING AWFUL” and invited readers to suggest a better song that would fit the video.
So we watched the video — and it’s completely mind-blowing. Really, it is. (see for yourselves, after the jump . . .)
After watching the video, we hunted around for some info about who made it, and found this on Noisecreep:
“It took a hell of a lot of time and effort, so it’s awesome to see it come out looking so good,” vocalist Winston McCall told Noisecreep. “The song and the clip are definitely related in concept. The idea behind the clip was basically a city trying to consume its population, which ties in with the lyrical content of the song, although in a much more literal sense than intended.”
. . . .
McCall wrote and story boarded the concept and gave it to band friend of Aaron Briggs, who is a CGI guru. “We basically said, ‘Can we do this?'” McCall recalled. “He said yes, and we hired a camera and Aaron and I shot the whole thing. Then he went to work with his team to create the mental stuff. All in all, they spent approximately 1,000 hours on the CGI work.”
The band chose a black and white color scheme “because we liked the feel and thought it would make the clip stand out way more. Some of the effects are done using a mixture of syrup, chocolate and food dye; others are CGI. Good luck picking which is which. Also the clip contains ‘acting’ from my dad. Legend,” McCall said.
So, if you haven’t seen this thing, you really should watch it. And the song? Well, we already knew we were easier to please than the dudes at Metal Sucks, plus we used to be big fans of Parkway Drive, so we’ve got a bit of a soft spot for ’em. Which is to say, we’re not as down on the song as Axl is. But judge for yourselves.
“Sleepwalker” is from the band’s third album, Deep Blue, which will be released near the end of this month.
I like the song.
The video’s pretty good too, even if I don’t know what the fuck’s going on. Starts with a first person perspective of a typical boring morning, then a watch explodes and turns into… bugs? Okay, I guess, but I still don’t know what’s really going on. The buildings start moving… wait, is this Tetsuo with insects instead of shrapnel and other sharp, pointy bits?
The CG work is pretty good (and not over the top), and might not have worked in color with this song. The splashes of red don’t look quite right to me, though – selective color is hit or miss anyway. At 1:54 or so, the reflection doesn’t match what the guy’s doing, as seen in first person. I suppose if I grabbed one of the HD versions to pore through, I might find other things, but that’s not to say anything against Aaron or his work – I’ve just become a bit critical of anything CG, probably due to finding faults in the stuff I do.
But hey, that’s me. This turned out great, and I honestly don’t know if this would have worked with another song, or if doing it all in color would have ruined it.
I’m not a terribly sophisticated critic of CGI — it all still seems like magic to me. My standard of reference is the average music video for extreme metal bands, so it’s a pretty low bar. Aaron has obviously got some professional chops, but still, this was basically a band guy doing story boards and a friend lending his skills, so in a way, it was still DIY, which made it all the more cool. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought this turned out great.
I wouldn’t say that I’m sophisticated about it either. I’m nowhere near having the skill, knowledge, software or hardware to tackle something like this. It’s a learning process, with no one way to do things – despite what some pros may say.
I just got into it to pass time and hopefully be able to make a little money here and there (which hasn’t happened); lately I’ve become a bit more critical of stuff, either sitting on my hard drive or what I may see online, on TV or in a movie (such as paying attention to details when I went to see Iron Man 2 opening night, rather than taking it all in as a whole).
To repeat, for me it all seems like magic. There are probably people out there (including maybe you) who actually know the mechanics of how you create these visual effects on a computer and can judge the results with a critical eye that goes beyond just the visual impression it makes. But I don’t see a lot of this in the world of extreme metal — and I’d really like to see more. I think so much could be done visually with the kind of mind-scrambling metal we like at this site.