The art of the music video might not be what it used to be, but 2019 still saw more than a few kick-ass songs translated into equally kick-ass visuals. From visions of a dystopian future to adventures with Mongolian warriors to a controversy-courting romp through Germany's twisted history, here are the 10 clips that kept us at Revolver HQ glued to our screens.
It doesn't hurt to have fans with famous parents, and Bring Me the Horizon struck pay dirt when they landed Forest Whitaker, whose daughter is a BMTH diehard, for their "In the Dark" music video. Frontman Oli Sykes directed the clip and captured a stunning performance from the Oscar-winning thespian, who appears strapped into a futuristic machine that plays out moments from his past, including traumatic ones, as vignettes from other scientific labs conducting experiments cut in like scenes straight out of Black Mirror. By the end, Whitaker is left alone, having undergone a full brain-mapping, shedding some solitary tears as the screens in front him break down into chaos.
Ghostemane marked both the end of the cycle for his 2018 album N / O / I / S / E and the beginning of "a new visual era" with the stunning animated music video for the LP's "Gatteka." The phantasmagorical clip — directed by Thomas J Yagodinski, who also handled all of its stop-motion animation — tells the dystopian story of an unnamed protagonist who must escape a factory where human beings get skinned alive then replaced by mindless replicants. As for the video's main villain, he's none other than Ghostemane's fetish-plague-mask-sporting mascot Dr. Nihil, who will also feature large in the musician's upcoming comic book Dr. Nihil and the Tremendous Blunder.
Rammstein's Till Lindemann ruled the screen in 2019: When not blowing minds with his main band's characteristically risque visual offerings, the singer was frying synapses with the videos from his eponymous side project, from the AI-fueled "Ich Weiß Es Nicht" to "Knebel," a clip so graphic that it only aired once in its uncensored form, to the seven-and-a-half minute short movie for "Frau & Mann." But of all the band Lindemann's 2019 videos, "Steh auf" takes the cake. An exceptionally bonkers affair, it sees Till sporting a smart-looking beard and wrestling with his Doppelganger played by Swedish actor Peter Stormare (Fargo, Prison Break) — and that's before a horse-riding horde of Mongol warriors charge through the red padded walls.
Poppy's brilliantly bipolar mix of cutesy pop and screeching metal found its perfect visual counterpart in her "Scary Mask" video. The camera careens between high-contrast scenes of the singer eyeing herself in her magic mirror, ballet dancing serenely, freaking out in a hallway straight out of Susperia, and losing her shit behind her mask, dragging the viewer along with it. Meanwhile, Poppy's backing band, the Icky Babies — in their awesome beaded-and-spiked harlequin getups — do their best to steal the show, throwing down like haute couture mannequins brought to life by the devil.
Marilyn Manson's latest transformation — into a doomsaying death-preacher goth cowboy of sorts — has already reaped rewards, in his southern-fried takes on the Door's "The End" and the folk traditional "God's Gonna Cut You Down." The video for the latter was filmed in Joshua Tree, California, and follows the shock-rock icon as he cavorts in a shadowy hotel room, shotgun in hand, and wanders out in the desert, digging a lonely grave and ultimately burying what appears to be his own dead body. It's stark, noir-ish and captivating, and whets the appetite for the full unveiling of Manson's new chapter.
In a year of crazy videos, Polyphia may have made the nuttiest of them all. The shredtastic memelords' "Look but Don't Touch" clip starts with the band in their version of heaven — a paradise of strippers, neon signs, cocaine, boners and Tide Pods. From there, they're sent to hell, then grow to ginormous size and stomp a city. There's newscasts. There's weed, bro. When featured singer Lewis Grant pops up, the action shifts to a church where multiples of the singer are shown delivering heartfelt vocals that, amazingly, sort of sum up the strange worlds of the video — which, it turns out, are all part of a huge complex in hell. With more strippers. Watch, and enjoy the sensation of your brain melting.
The HU came to prominence this year courtesy of their viral music videos, and 2019's "The Great Chenggis Khaan" clip is well worth passing around. The song honors the legacy of fellow Mongolian Genghis Khan, the founder and first great ruler of the Mongol Empire, and its fittingly epic visual was filmed in the 12th-century ruler's hometown of Burkhan Khalduun. The band endured bone-chilling -30 degree temperatures during the shoot, and their warrior-like tenacity and aggressive stances make for a compelling encapsulation of the HU's unstoppable drive to conquer the rock world.
In her music, Chelsea Wolfe comes on like a force of nature, delicate and tectonic at various turns. As such, her "Be All Things" video may be the perfect visual accompaniment, a gripping, gorgeous evocation of nature's beauty and power. Filmed between Iceland and Northern California, the clip features particularly stunning clips shot inside a marble cavern that Wolfe visited as a child and sang inside as an adult, in her words, "sending my voice out as heavy as I could against the powerful dampness and sparkles of the ancient cave walls."
JP Ahonen's comic strip Belzebubs is, according to its creator, "a trve kvlt documentary revolving around two main themes: the daily lives of your average occult family — Sløth, Lucyfer, Lilith and Leviathan — and the sluggish evolution of Sløth's black-metal band, featuring Obesyx and Hubbath." The latter came to life in 2019 via the frostbitten LP Pantheon of the Nightside Gods, and the music video for album standout "Cathedrals of Mourning" brought the mythology further to life. The animated clip portrays the quartet (rounded out by drummer Samaël) tremolo-riffing and blast beating on a snow-covered mountainside where they accidentally trigger a hellish avalanche, wreaking black-metal destruction upon a ski resort below them. Hilarious, badass and kvlt as fvck.
Rammstein have ever been ones to shy from controversy, and with the mega-budget music video for "Deutschland," their first single in eight years, the industrial-metal firestarters aimed to push buttons and then some. Even before its premiere, the video received criticism from government officials and Jewish leaders in Germany, who called the 30-second teaser that proceeded the full clip "irresponsible" and "tasteless" due to its depiction of band members wearing concentration camp prisoner uniforms, about to be hung at the gallows. When the final video dropped, it was a revelation: a mind-blowing nine-and-half-minute trip through German history, in all its epic glory and extreme ugliness, visually expressing the struggle in the song's lyrics as the band attempted to reconcile themselves with their homeland's conflicted legacy. Bold, thrilling and thought-provoking, the "Deutschland" video is a true, confrontational piece of art and 2019's finest music video.