It seems like story-based/artistic videos are a dying art, as most music videos nowadays are performance-based. Seriously, when a new video is announced, chances are it is not a story-based one but a performance one (or at the very least a combination of both). That’s okay though, since most of them are so creative, imaginative, and downright fun to watch. Interestingly enough no idea ever seems recycled/reused in any way. Besides, it’s always nice to see the band playing their instruments, anyways. So, here are 20 of (what I consider to be) the most creative performance-based videos released this year:
20. Lamb of God – Vanishing (Studio Session)
Why? Because, while this is the most straightforward performance video a band can put out, it’s still engaging enough when it comes to seeing a band rehearse a song. No fluff, flourishes, scripts, or anything like that, just musicians being musicians, doing what they do best.
19. Shinedown – Daylight
Why? Because this type of video is the most organic performance video that a band can release. The visuals are taken directly from the band’s concerts and edited together into one coherent unit that shows the strong connection between the audience/fans and the musicians. There have been a number of such videos released throughout the year – like JINJER’s “Call Me a Symbol” or ARCH ENEMY’s “The Watcher” – and each is beautiful in its own way.
18. The Halo Effect – In Broken Trust
Why? Because a rooftop concert is always cool and we all have been missing the live vibes like crazy! So, in that regard, this video (like the ones above) is a good reminder to cherish and enjoy live music as much as possible because it can go away in an instant (as the past few years have, so harshly, proven).
17. Bloodred Hourglass – In Lieu of Flowers
Why? Because metal and rose petal is a combination I never knew I needed in my life. And probably you didn’t know either before this video. I mean, how cool is it to have rose petals rain down on a band performing on a stage and not have the music be romantic? Pretty damn cool, that’s for sure! Less is definitely more here.
16. Seventh Wonder – Invincible
Why? Because it’s an ingenious way of filming a video when the band members can’t actually meet up at a place/venue and shoot a proper clip. It’s something that LORD OF THE LOST did a lot during the pandemic (for their Lord of the Locked series) and it works now as well as it worked then. This is a different take on a studio session -type of video.
15. Illumishade – Elegy
Why? Because, while filming in an empty space (like a garage or a warehouse) or even a stylish room is overdone, the artistic dancing elevates the aesthetic palette of the video. Especially towards the end with the colorful scarf that matches Fabienne Erni’s make-up. More of that dancing would have been even better.
14. Lord of the Lost – Heartbeat of the Devil
Why? Because of the ‘80s disco vibes that gel so incredibly well with the music. The neon lights enhance the mood of the song while giving the video somewhat of a steampunk edge. The visuals may be simple but they sure are effective! The editing also helps make this video such a visual feast for the eyes!
13. Amorphis – On the Dark Waters
Why? Because a random metal band filming in the middle of the woods/in nature never gets old. But, as with any old cliché, it works based on the strengths of its predecessors. Same here, as there are plenty of videos of bands playing in nature and we’ve learned to just roll with them. The almost monochrome color scheme works beautifully for this video and song.
12. Slipknot – The Dying Song (Time to Sing)
Why? Because apparently, you can do so much with mirrors, camera panning, and clever editing tricks. The video to this song is such a trippy visual feat you need to pay attention not to trigger any vertigo symptoms.
11. Blind Guardian – Architect of Doom
Why? Because of the futuristic lighting design and the masks that give off secret cult -type of vibes. This video wouldn’t have worked so well without lights and all the other details added in post-production. The same goes for METALLICA’s video for their newest single, “Lux Aeterna.”
10. Feuerschwanz – Blinding Lights
Why? Because there’s a (metal) party in a medieval castle. Need I say more? On top of the setting, the decor, the lighting, and the dancing, this THE WEEKEND cover song is pretty darn great. FEUERSCHWANZ have become pretty good at turning pop songs into metal hits.
9. Amaranthe – Crystalline
Why? Because romance in a stylish castle really takes you away for a little while. The black-and-white approach to the video feels nostalgic and leads beautifully into an explosion of colors and feelings as the music gently washes over you!
8. Within Temptation – Don’t Pray for Me
Why? Because it’s not every day you get a video specifically designed around two colors (yellow and blue in this case) that enhance the mood of the song. The other alternative from this year (that I can think of) is LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE’s “To Disappear in You” with the contrasting red and blue. The CGI is also helpful in making this video a visual gem.
7. League of Distortion – Wolf or Lamb
Why? Because of the (CGI) wolves that make the lyrics all the more poignant. The various decor settings and wardrobe changes almost always make for interesting visual dynamics, and this is no exception. I especially like Anna’s red gown, make-up, and contact lenses towards the end.
6. Visions of Atlantis – Legions of the Sea
Why? Because it provides escapism into a pirate-filled world and, for a few minutes, you are in a different realm. The props coupled with the lyrics also help bring this universe to life in fantastic fashion. Discover your inner pirate with VISIONS OF ATLANTIS!
5. Beyond the Black – Winter is Coming
Why? Because it perfectly merges performance and storytelling, thus wonderfully conveying the message of the song. There is ice, snowflakes, a hero and a villain, and a plot twist. You can either watch it for the band’s performance or for the minimalist movie, the choice is yours.
4. Xandria – You Will Never Be Our God ft. Ralf Scheepers
Why? Because it is set in a dystopian universe where books are not just banned but burned. Granted this one is at the crossroads between story and performance offering the best of both worlds, even more so than the aforementioned BEYOND THE BLACK video. This hybrid approach to a video can also be found in the beautifully shot “Lilian” from INSOMNIUM or in ELUVEITIE’s dark tale, “Exile of the Gods.”
3. Arch Enemy – Sunset Over the Empire
Why? Because of the visual juxtaposition between futuristic hologram technologies and a desolate, dusty, dystopian timeline. It’s a jarring contradiction between two possible futures for humanity – we either destroy everything or embrace technology.
2. Dynazty – The White
Why? Because of all the studio shenanigans that are going on in this video. Sure, some things must have been scripted, but still, it’s very entertaining to watch and see the band play and interact with each other in the safe and cozy environment of the recording studio. Moreover, it’s nice to have a peep behind the scenes at studio life.
1. Lacrimas Profundere – The Curtain of White Silence
Why? Because who films a video with minimal lighting from above and behind so as to obscure the band’s faces? Apparently, Julian Larre (also the band’s vocalist) does that, as he’s the one who directed this video. This bold move resulted in an intense video where the band plays in semi-obscurity thus matching the mood of the song. The editing here is also top-notch! Actually, for me, any of the band’s videos from this year are strong contenders for the performance-based music video of the year.
Written by Andrea Crow