by Eight Thirty Seven and Blade Mancano
Over the course of our history as metal fans, we’ve seen some of the most talented musicians in any genre put visual art to their music that is a clear representation of the audio they present to us. Hard, gritty, tough, and all of the other adjectives you’d want to describe a metal video but not so much the inside of a condom are present and everything just fucking falls into place. But as with any sector of quality material within the music community, there is always a handful of selections which resemble Olympic-sized swimming pools of dog shit.
As we all know, this list could be six hundred videos long and that’s a very conservative estimate. Heavy Metal produced some of the most awful songs during the eighties and early nineties, which is sort of like saying that a particular strain of Hepatitis C is easier on the dingus than all of the others. Another thing we know is that during this stretch of time, music videos exploded onto the scene giving us the opportunity to see some of our favorite artists in action mouthing and jamming their unplugged guitars to their latest hit single. Not all of the videos on this list are from that era, but saying that this period isn’t responsible for everything that came afterwards is sort of like saying the roots of slavery have nothing to do with modern-day racism. Perhaps that’s an awful analogy, but you get my point.
Believe it or not, the following six music videos were actually filmed and shown on MTV. I’m sure they hired catering – which most of the crew didn’t even eat because they were high as fuck on cocaine – and spent tens of thousands of dollars editing these clips to chisel them into finished products. The results weren’t always pretty, so let’s break them down one by one…
1. Kiss – “All Hell’s Break’n Loose” (1983)
Blade: Where to even begin? The rap/talk verse of this song is annoying at first, but becomes less noticeable after multiple plays, the chorus rocks, the riffs (which were notably written by then-drummer Eric Carr) rule, so how the fuck did this song end up on the list? Watch the video for ten seconds and let’s continue this discussion…
Okay…choreography: Not even passable for good. Lighting? Hit and miss. But camera work…What the hell is up with these long shots while the band is singing the chorus? Here’s a better question: Was Gene Simmons even aware that there was a makeup trailer on the set? And why isn’t Vinnie Vincent in this video at all until the halfway mark?
The little person next to the actor in stilts is just comically awful, and made even worse with Paul Stanley prancing around like some sort of Richie Samboraesque version of a My Little Pony. Each of the women in this video either deserves an apology or an award for their ability to morph into a lot lizard before our eyes. Maybe both. And it’s not like Stanley would even care about those women to begin with, because I’m sure between takes his butthole was probably so chock full of dick his colon was protruding from his nostrils.
After this was made, how could anyone have thought that Gene Simmons would make a good actor? Better yet, how was this nominated for an MTV Music Video Award? I’d recommend watching Motley Crue’s “Too Young to Fall in Love” to reach the attempted effect this video was going for…Perhaps KISS didn’t know better, but here’s an example of a band who should have…
2. Megadeth – “Public Enemy No. 1” (2011)
Meehan: Talk about a terrible video from a great band. When Megadeth returned from a two year hiatus with their 2011 album “Thirteen”, they came back with founding bassist Dave Ellefson as a part of the fold but also brought along with them one of the dumbest ideas for a music video ever. This clip wouldn’t even have been acceptable if it had been shot in the “Peace Sells” era, but the fact that it’s only five years old is enough to make me want to only see videos comprised solely of live performance shots from this point forward.
I don’t really have a slow way to break this to you, so I’ll just tell it like it is: The focal point of this video is a monkey who is on the run from the law in the old West. True to all nonsensical form, this monkey also drives a car and is fittingly being chased by another monkey dressed as a sheriff. Sheriff monkey is also driving a car, and I guess my point here is that no wrap-up of any heavy metal video should ever use the word “monkey” this many times by the midway section of the second paragraph. Dave Mustaine also appears to be the monkey’s partner in crime about a minute and half in, while somehow also simultaneously being the newscaster who is informing viewers that the monkey is on the lamb. By the time the monkey starts playing poker with the other band members, I realized the only thing that could save this mess is if one of the monkeys robs a saloon toting an uzi. But then not twenty seconds later that happens, and I realize that this one is a goner. I’m assuming this clip eventually ends, but I simply couldn’t risk confirming that suspicion.
The only way that this would even be remotely acceptable is if the animal who got the part here had originally tried out for the video for Skid Row’s “Monkey Business” and then came up short when the monkey that Rachel Bolan has on his back somehow convinced the casting director he’d be a better fit. But even then, the monkey who did get the Megadeth part would have had to be dying of cancer and this had better been his final wish. But since monkeys can’t really make wishes, couldn’t we have come up with another idea here? I get that Roadrunner Records is hardly made of money, but there had to have been other options that didn’t involve zoo animals pretending to be Billy The Kid. The only remaining question is: How long did Dave wait after the shoot was wrapped to tell the monkey he wasn’t in the band anymore? (Probably not a whole lot longer than James MacDonough was in the band) I bet that monkey wishes he wasn’t such an outcast when he was younger, and that he got to hang out with the “cool” monkeys. But then again, maybe not…
3. Kix – “Cool Kids” (1983)
Blade: Holy fuck. Low budget set aside, what in theeeeeeee hell is going on here? “Hey, do you play guitar sans amplification? Come join my posse! Hey drummer guy, I see you don’t have a kit, but down this alley there just so happens to be one awaiting your sure-to-be-overwhelming skill set, complete with an ultra-smooth logo on the kick drum. And on and on it goes… I’m really hoping to the horned one below that this was somehow inspired by the movie Footloose, because if they came up with this shit on their own words like “justice” and “art” have absolutely no value whatsoever. It looks like lead vocalist Steve Whiteman is wearing a size 0 corset biker mini jacket, and was into skinny jeans decades before they were popular. The AC/DC style riffage and lame lyrics hold about the same level of effectiveness as throwing life preservers full of lead anvils to assure the survival of this video. It ain’t working.
And while we’re bitching about this video, what the fuck is up with the name of this group anyway? Were “Frosted Flakes” and “Honey Comb” already taken by other bands in their neighborhood? This was a group of musicians who used to refer to themselves as The Baltimore Cocks, which is not only a fantastic name for a metal band but would have also been a great name for Ozzie Newsome to have named the Ravens when he jacked Cleveland’s football franchise back in 1996. What were these assholes thinking?
Would the name have prevented them from getting a record deal or achieving the commercial success they eventually had? Probably, but then again if that were the case this never would have existed so I stand by my take. However just when you thought a blind alley couldn’t get any less frightening and more chock full of cheesy innuendo, nine years later this next piece of shit came along and proved you wrong. Dead fucking wrong.
4. Slaughter – “The Wild Life” (1992)
Meehan: I’m well aware that even at its heavier moments, Slaughter was never really a metal band. But that’s how they were sold to the music buying public, and sometimes shit just is what it is. After their very confusingly successful 1990 album Stick It To Ya and the extremely unnecessary live album that soon followed, Chrysalis decided to put all of their chips on the table and release “The Wild Life” the day after Hitler’s birthday in ’92 and the results were less than impressive. Not surprisingly, the first single off of the record was for the title track and they shot one of the worst “metal” videos in history.
The premise for the video is simple: The lyrics dictate there’s a really hot girl that lives in a dark warehouse who is bored with watching television and decides she’s going to go out and hit the town looking for a “Slaughteresque” party. But if you remember correctly, Slaughter was very seriously against drinking and drugs…so what exactly does a good time such as that one consist of? As it turns out, not much. Basically this chick just ends up going to an alley where there’s a back entrance to a tattoo parlor at the end of it. The whole think looks like this poorly executed after-school special warning the youth of America about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, while showing them the most stereotypical fake freak show in the world where there are no drugs or alcohol present.
Sometimes when I am really bored I wonder what Slaughter did on their tour bus. Without any vices to speak of and no real distinct personality traits or interesting hobbies, what did they do on their tour bus for fun? Did they have pillow fights and eat pink cotton candy all the while blasting Stryper’s “To Hell With The Devil” at medium volume? True metal (and even true hard rock) has to have a certain amount of danger present in order to create the environment that suggests it’s threatening. Additionally, your singer has to be a bit of a badass in order to sell the crowd on the idea he’s leading them into battle. But there’s nothing “badass” about a slick boy. I feel quite confident in my sexuality when I say that Mark Slaughter was just a pretty man all around, and if you watch Slaughter videos really closely (please don’t) you can clearly see that most of the women dancing in their clips have more more chest hair than Mark would ever sport after leaving the makeup chair.
5. Manowar – “Blow Your Speakers” (1987)
Blade: Honestly, I almost like this song – which means I like it more than anything by Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber – and technically speaking it was shot really well. You can also tell that they actually had the necessary budget to edit properly and sync the video and the music flawlessly. It looks every bit as good as any Scorpions or Priest video of that era. But ideas are a motherfucker, and a shitty concept will slice your Achilles tendon wide open every day of the week.
Probably the first thing to notice would be the fan lip-syncing in the bedroom. All sleeveless shirts and mullets aside – for there are but oceans of both in this heap – once you reveal the clip of the band playing live, you don’t have to go back to the bedroom and show the bro-down again. The dream is real guys, you tuned into/or are watching the real Manowar play, there’s no need to go down to the local electronics store to disrespect your elders by smugly watching your VHS copy of the same song.
Second, is it me or would every single one of these guys make the perfect centaur from the waist up? Their galloping stagecraft and shape throwing certainly add to the mystique…But when you wear leather, armor, and assless chaps mixed with speedos and sound like this, was it really that much of an earth-shattering surprise when thrash took out trash during this decade? That’s why I’ll take Nuclear Assault over this nonsense any day of the fucking week.
I suppose it could be worse: At least Manowar still remains revered in the metal community for putting together quite an impressive career and didn’t rely on some hack gag like having their singer perform with power tools. But believe it or not, somebody did…
6. Jackyl – “The Lumberjack” (1992)
Meehan: I realize that there are a lot of people who wouldn’t classify Jackyl as metal, and it would be hard for me to disagree with that assessment. But somebody put them on Headbanger’s Ball, and from that point they were incorrectly classified as both 1) metal; and 2) tolerable. Either everybody was so completely disillusioned from having to explain why the hell we wasted billions of dollars on a war in the Middle East that lasted less than eight months, or so unbelievably fucked in the head that they just went with it.
This Southern rock video begins on a porch – bet you didn’t see that one coming – where there is an old man smoking a cigarette when a truck pulls up. He then pulls out a gun, says something extremely predictable, and the music starts. All of the stereotypical Confederate Flag touting bullshit was bad enough, but I was just really wishing that something would happen and the audio wouldn’t roll. I was wrong, and the clip painfully transitions into a classroom scene which as we know is an idea has been beaten to death so many times you’d think it was a baby seal. The live shot of the band is projected onto the chalkboard, which I have to admit was probably really revolutionary given the poor technology available at the time. When lead singer Jesse James Dupree taps the teacher on the shoulder it turns out “she” is really a dude will a full beard, leading me to believe that whoever directed this piece of shit had a stroke or is the same person who directs those awful Brenny’s Motorcycle Clinic spots.
There’s a reason I put this last on the list, and if we can get serious for a second after watching something so hilarious let’s try to go there. One of the things that pisses me off about bands like this is they are still overcharging promoters and venue owners insane amounts of money when they know goddamn good and well they are decades past their prime and aren’t worth it. Now, some might say “Well, you can’t fault them for…” and I would interrupt them sternly by simply stating “Fuck that”. It’s wrong, and they know it’s wrong. Everybody involved with their little travelling chainsaw carnival knows it’s wrong too, and in my mind it’s no different than any other type of thievery that has taken place since the inception of time.
I have it on good word from one of the five people left on this planet I would trust with my life that as late as 2010, Jackyl was charging five thousands dollars for an outdoor show. That’s without bringing their own PA, and with the promoter having to get insurance to put on the show in the first place. They did it to a guy who was really cool and it just fucking snaps my brain in half that they had to have known he wasn’t going to make his money back. I’m not going to go into a lot of details here because I don’t want to name names, but this source is legit and the fact that Jackyl is still touring the country and charging that much money is enough to make me want to eat popcorn bowls full of my own vomit. I have to assume this wasn’t the “Hope” Obama was talking about during his presidential runs, because in 2016 I have absolutely no ear space left for Jackyl whatsoever.
Every genre of music has its wastelands, but one of the things that has always made metal special is that the stupidity is supposed to weed itself out based on the influences of its creators. But after all of these years, I’ve come to learn that the failure rate for weak sauce shit in the metal community is just as every bit as high as that in other genres. And not just “other” kinds of music, shit like bro-country, new age, and pretty much everything that has come out of South Korea since the first day Bruce Springsteen gained enough weight that he had to cut his blue jeans off with a pair of scissors on tour. Metal elitists are to blame for most of this shit, but as much as I hate to say it they are kind of right. I would almost go as far as to say that there are actually more bad artists in heavy metal today than in other genres, and I’d be willing to argue just about anybody into the ground about that and I’d likely win. But these videos proves that “winning” is a relative idea, and that with the popularity of YouTube the number of bad music videos will only continue to increase over time. Long story short, choose your entertainment wisely, folks…
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Meehan and Blade