Warning: Extremely NSFW

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Most metal music videos fail to live up to the music. If they’re not completely uninspired (hello, band playing in a warehouse/the woods/on stage), they’re downright goofy (hello, Immortal). There are a few diamonds in the rough, whether through novel concepts or proficient execution. Mastodon, Cannibal Corpse, and Amon Amarth all have solid track records in those areas. Then there are videos like “In the Halls of White Death.”

I don’t know if this video’s genesis was with the band or co-directors Jeanphilippe Malric and Marc Obregon, but it walks a line between art and shock for its own sake. Black & white cinematography is a given, as are other black metal aesthetics: blood, goats, occult rituals. It is exquisitely photographed but retains an organic feel. Lingering shots replace the quick cuts so often associated with music videos, adding to the unease of the subject matter.

There’s no real narrative, but rather a collection of provocative imagery. It’s very reminiscent of La Fin Absolue du Monde (The Absolute End of the World), from John Carpenter’s Masters Of Horror episode “Cigarette Burns.” The notorious film is described as so horrific that it drives anyone who views it to violence.

Overall, this video isn’t much more edgy or controversial than the typical black metal clip. Yes, there is full frontal nudity, blasphemous images, and a transvestite goat-woman (maybe) raping a girl. But will anyone seeking out this video be shocked by these things? If you’re into Merrimack (reviewed here), you probably listen to a good amount of black metal. A few scenes might make you do a double-take, but compared to some of the horrible events that happened within this genre, reality is stranger than fiction.

– Chris Rowella