MTV celebrated its 35th anniversary on Aug. 1 of this year, but the channel hasn't really played music videos in several years. However, the medium continues to thrive, thanks to YouTube and other online entities.
While technological advances make it exponentially easier to create digitally compelling music videos, others still rely on live action to convey their message. Here, we've compiled the best metal videos 2016 gave us, which run the gamut across a myriad of cinematic styles.
On the animated side, there's High on Fire's psychedelic nightmare in "The Black Plot," Megadeth's equally violent "Dystopia" and the twisted world of the cylindrical cartoonish characters in Periphery's "Marigold."
If you're looking for something grounded in a bit more reality, there's the viking battle in "At Dawn's First Light" from Amon Amarth and the thrilling Slayer video for "You Against You." All right, they may not be the most realistic, but the people are indeed real!
Korn’s The Serenity of Suffering is a throwback to their early sound and its fitting that they turned back the clock in the music video for “Insane.” Here, the scene is set circa 1920s with vintage photography equipment setup in a parlor. The photographer struggles with paranoid visions while under the hood behind the camera lens, seeing distorted images of his subjects as their likeness is captured on film. Nervously sweating at the end, the photographer sits down and takes his own picture, sucking himself into the same vortex.
"At Dawn's First Light"Amon Amarth
Every Amon Amarth fan is enamored with the band’s undying affinity for viking lore and with the “At Dawn’s First Light” they got the epic battle that’s always been envisioned with the Swedish legends. The band gets caught up in the middle of a village where a battle breaks out with swords clashing and arrows flying. Amon Amarth are not impervious to the violence, getting struck with arrows and bloodied as they wield an axe of their own (guitars — duh)!
"Cold as Perfection"Fleshgod Apocalypse
Fleshgod Apocalypse’s King is a concept record based around the different facets of the king’s court. The music video for “Cold as Perfection” is downright regal with a set design that immediately brings to mind the immense details of Game of Thrones. This video explores the king’s withering relationship with the queen as they stroll through the garden in their robes. In the end, the queen slits her wrists, bleeding out in the bathtub.
While metal musicians take their music seriously, its nice to see them let loose once in awhile with a fun animated music video like Periphery did for their track “Marigold.” In this video, cylindrical characters come to life in a factory, Hellbent on destroying the red-eyed robots that seemingly keep them captive. Finding a weapons arsenal, a group of bandito cylinders strap up before engaging in an all-out war with these robots. We’re not entirely sure what’s going on here, but all we know is that we like it — a lot.
There’s no denying Ghost are one of the most visually enthralling acts out there right now, so of course the music video format plays to their strengths! In the clip for the infectious “Square Hammer,” the members of Ghost arrive at a theater featuring their very own movie — the first ever moving picture. Taking cues from the vintage Hammer Horror films, they watch on as a man finds the square hammer in a coffin, but chaos ensues when the Papa Emeritus on screen comes to life and infiltrates the night sky outside of the theater.
Continuing the violent, war-torn future set in Megadeth's video for “The Threat Is Real,” “Dystopia” bests its thematic predecessor with a more action-packed, violent and captivating extension of their narrative. Here, Vic Rattlehead takes on brutal aggressors, blowing heads clean off as the scar-faced escapee continues his airborne getaway. He’s blown out of the sky as missiles lock targets, but he emerges from the fiery wreckage nearly unscathed. Arriving at the scene is Vic Rattlehead, who promptly fights this figure where overhead hovering machines come to Vic’s aid and vaporize the assailant.
In the final video of Slayer’s exhilarating and bloody conceptual trilogy, we learn how the eye patch-wearing savage seen in the “Repentless” prison riot video actually wound up doing hard time. “You Against You” opens up with an overtly brutal image of a man lying on the ground, impaled by over two dozen knives. This clip follows the man who just loses it, going on a killing spree after confronted by masked gunmen. Subdued and beaten by men in suits, he’s finally arrested by the police and the video circle is complete.
"The Stage"Avenged Sevenfold
Avenged Sevenfold garnered plenty of attention with the music video for “The Stage,” which came literally out of nowhere as the band prepped their surprise album release. The music video for the title track features an elaborate marionette puppet display with human viewers seated in a small, tented theater. The puppets act out some of the more gruesome acts of violence mankind has been responsible for through the centuries in this compelling video.
"Blood Eagle Wings"Anthrax
Anthrax had over eight minutes to work with in their truly epic music video for “Blood Eagle Wings” off For All Kings. A triumph of the format, this video features a detailed narrative of a sadistic skull-faced king sitting comfortably in his chambers as prisoners are tortured below. One captive (actor James Duval) is sliced open from the back as bones are ripped through his flesh and exposed as he lies cold on the table.
"The Black Plot"High on Fire
Get ready for a heavy dose of violent psychedelia with the video for High on Fire’s speedsludge rager, “The Black Plot.” Matt Pike is a man who loves his conspiracies and his imagination unfolds over the course of five-and-a-half minutes as a horn-helmeted warrior battles with cycloptic aliens and reptilian overlords. This music video is so vivid and intense that it actually comes across like a genuine cartoon program that just happens to have a song laid over the clips. Action-packed and exploding with colors, “The Black Plot” can safely be crowned the Best Metal Video of 2016!