Chosen by Monk

The Uber Rock Approved stampIt’s hard to believe that it’s been seven whole days since we last awarded our coveted ‘Video Of The Week’ title, and, despite the ongoing, and some cases renewed, lockdowns in many parts of the Überverse, we are still receiving a healthy bundle of submissions for our coveted ‘Video Of The Week’ title. Many of them are produced against the background of continuing quarantine conditions in some countries, while others reflect artists being able to return and flex their creative muscles once again.

After careful consideration of the 100-plus submissions we once again received this week – and, yes, we did watch them all – our winner sees us travelling to the icy forest lands of Norway and Russia, for the atmospheric and beautifully filmed tale of the ‘Kvitravn’, or ‘White Raven’, which is also the title track of the new album from Scandinavian black metal maestro Einar Sevik, aka Wardruna, who gave us some background to both the song and the clip:

“[It] explores traditions of animal-guides and the symbolism and legends of sacred white animals found in Nordic- and other cultures all over the world. These highly regarded ghostly creatures, whether a raven, snake, bear, moose, reindeer, elephant or lion – are in animist traditions seen as prophetic, divine messengers, and guardians representing renewal, purity and a bridge between worlds.

“Being fully aware of how rare it is to come across white ravens, we knew from the start that this would be an ambitious and challenging task to pull off. However, fate seemed to be on our side in this and the “impossible” piece of the puzzle fell into place as if gifted from the divine.“

The video – by Ragnarok Film, the same team responsible for the previous Wardruna video, for stand-alone single ‘Lyfjaberg’ – is suitably bleak yet optimistic, and features the dramatic landscapes which serve as it back drop to their fullest extent. The result is breath-taking in places, and one of the most beautiful videos we have featured this year:

A total change in style, both musically and visually, for the first of our honourable mentions, as we meet up with guitarist/songwriter Damien Stolka and his new project, Cousin Betty, who have just released their new single via the ever productive and satisfying Golden Robot Records imprint. ‘Drone’ is a damning indictment of the “sheep” mentality which pervades social media, and the accompanying video clip perfectly complements its theme of internet-generated memes and filters. Vocalist Matt Downey told us a bit more about the song:

“Damien played me a riff he’d been working on; it was immediately infectious, but I wasn’t in the mood. I was upset about some Facebook “friend” just regurgitating some stuff – obvious garbage they’d heard on in the media and seemingly verbatim. As I scrolled down their page, I realised that their politics, faux ideals and very life’s philosophy seemed the be simply illustrated through bad memes; some in direct contradiction to the one prior.

“While I’m an advocate of independent thought and am pleased that we don’t all think the same, this hollow person represented to me that type of fool with no fixed opinion about ANYTHING, opposition for the sake of opposition and a seemingly wilful ignorance. Not a problem in itself per se, but this dim prole was also a Dad…a mentor to a developing mind, ensuring further generations of the same. The lyrics spilled out and the entire song, complete with multiple takes and backing vocals was finished in about 40 minutes. On re-listens I think I was pretty harsh but it’s just what I was feeling at the time. This was our first real collaborative effort too. I loved it the second he showed me the opening riff.”

Now, I know it’s only Sunday afternoon, but as far as I’m concerned it’s time for some hot milk – well, the Mancunian emo-powerpop quartet of that name anyway, who have just dropped their latest single after a summer spent beavering away on writing and producing new material.

“Do you have those delicate invasive invisible thoughts that crawl inside your head, that whisper and tell you keep punishing yourself, that tell you you’re not good enough and that you deserve nothing….? “ asks co-vocalist Han Mee. 

“Those are glass spiders. They come in droves and they consume you. This song is about being at rock bottom, about giving everything you are until you have nothing left and succumbing to putting bad chemicals into your body just for the sake of wanting to feel something new.”

The accompanying video reflects the song’s dark and claustrophobic feel, coupled with a sense of the ability to break free of the webs extrapolated in the lyrics:

We travel across the Pennines next, to the Steel City of Sheffield, where metalcore heroes While She Sleeps recently announced the formation of a new, fan-oriented online community, powered by the Patreon model, as the band explain:

“After 14 years as a band & in the ever-changing climate that is the music industry, we are embarking on a new chapter of our life as While She Sleeps. Our goal is to create a sustainable model for artists and creatives, to break from the traditional industry mold by building and developing a true interdependence between the band and fans.

“With the future of live performances uncertain, the Sleeps Society will enable a secure existence for WSS and gives us the opportunity to stay connected with our fanbase, developing new ways to provide for our supporters and fill the void left without live music. In these uncertain times, this is the difference between life and death for the future of WSS. We aren’t prepared to be another band forced to give up simply be­cause the system isn’t designed to support the artist.

“The idea behind the society was created after over a decade’s experience of this rollercoaster ride that is the music industry. Having overcom­e mountains of hardship and financial debt, it feels important to share what we’ve learned along the way with those who are drawn to a similar path as ours. This model will provide a new route for upcoming artists and bands similar to us, using our knowledge and guidance to help achieve a realistic career in the cre­ative industries. 

“The society will ask a membership fee, ranging in different tiers of support. These contributions directly fund the creation and survival of WSS. The cost will be repaid to the fans with a plethora of informative, exciting and engaging videos, as well as special events to get involved with and many exclusives to members. We’ll be sharing full album guitar & drum play-throughs, a tutorial series for songwrit­ing, studio production, vocal techniques, art and branding, self-management, videography and much more. There’ll be an in-depth look into making the forthcoming album and live streamed studio sessions where members can help make deci­sions in the writing stages of songs. Members will get early access to tour tickets, exclusive merchandise, warehouse meet-ups, events and secret ‘members only’ shows. And that’s just scratching the surface of what we’ll be offering members through the Society.

“Our aim is to deliver a ‘too good to be true’ level of rewards for the prices we are asking our supporters to pay, using our individual skills to develop and create entertaining and informative videos, tutorials, ideas and more for our members. This is us shar­ing our knowledge and experience in the hope that other artists can take this model and use it for their own.

“With the monthly support of our fans, the band will be able to break free from the traditional music industry method of ‘cash advances’, where artists are essentially borrowing large sums of money and giving up the  rights to their songs, only to spend the years that follow in debt which oftentimes becomes insurmountable and crippling.
“The Sleeps Society ensures a solid future for WSS & creates a new model of survival for artists and bands alike. We will be delivering the highest level of fan involvement and fostering a symbiotic relationship as the Sleeps Society becomes an integral part of Sleeps’ existence.”

‘Sleeps Society’ also happens to be the name of the quartet’s new album, due next April, the title of track of which has just been released, along with an appropriately themed video:

Another band who haven’t been sitting on their hands during the current pandemic are Ukrainian groove metal maestros Jinjer, who have been busy making videos for each and every one of the tracks on their apocalypse-inducing ‘Macro’ album. To that end, they’ve just released the suitably intense and cathartic clip for sixth single, ‘The Prophecy’, with the promise of three more visual interpretations to come. Bassist Eugene told us:

“When we wrote ‘The Prophecy’ in 2019, little did we know that it would prophesize things to come in 2020 … the entire screwed up, scary and confusing year all wrapped up in our brand new single. That being said – we are not only very excited for this new video, but to also announce that we will release videos for all tracks from our ‘Macro’ album. It’s the very least we can do in these strange times!”

Jinjer have also revealed that they will be releasing first official live album, Alive In Melbourne, on 20 November, via Napalm Records. The album was recorded during their sold-out debut Australian tour in March, just days before Covid-19 stopped the band’s world tour in its tracks and changed all of our lives collectively forever.

Well, there you go. That’s your lot for this week. Hope you have enjoyed the new sights and sounds we have brought to you this week. Until next Sunday, keep ‘er lit, keep ‘er between the hedges and #StayTheFuckSafe…

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