Video Breakdown: Mastodon – Blood and Thunder
Are you frightened of clowns? You'll absolutely hate this Mastodon video.
Before beginning the video for Mastodon’s Blood And Thunder, a single from 2006’s Leviathan and a big-ass gig-closer for years, it’s worth putting out a warning: people with a certain clown-based phobia might just wet themselves.
The video opens with a person running up some stairs. They're probably going somewhere really nice, and almost certainly not about to enter the kind of place that generally only exists in nightmares. Imagine if they were going to the scariest place in the world! Imagine! That would make the next four minutes or so rather unpleasant.
Oh, great. It's a dimly lit club full of clowns. The worst thing ever. The ol’ coulrophobia is kicking in. Still, it probably won’t be four minutes of pure clown action, will it?
It’s really, really, really clown-heavy. It’s like, how much more clown-heavy could this get? None. None more clown-heavy. Could anyone involved in making this have known, a decade ago, that we would one day live in a time when killer clowns were a genuine fear and not just a silly thing on telly? Don’t know. Either way, shit!
Troy Sanders is arguably the least dangerous-looking member of Mastodon. He’s the least tattooed, the most conventionally handsome and the least ginger. And yet, his mic-licking, I'm-having-a-moment facial movements here are genuinely disturbing. There’s a kind of insane glee in his face as he channels the inner thoughts of the Great White Whale.
After clowns, the next most prevalent theme in this video is fezzes. Is that how one pluralises fez? Dunno. Anyway, the hat beloved by Tommy Cooper, Ali Bongo and Akbar and Jeff from Matt Groening’s Life Is Hell is also used by the Shriners, a secret fraternal society that falls under the umbrella of Freemasonry. Brent Hinds is quite a fan – his grandfather was a Shriner, and fezzes show up in his side-project Fiend Without A Face as well.
This pretty unpleasant-looking dude, even considering the fact he’s in a room filled with clowns, is a Puddles The Clown, a fellow Georgian and leader of the 13-piece band Kingsized. Coulothologists will recognise him as a Pierrot, the traditional ‘sad clown’ of commedia dell’arte. He doesn't look that sad actually. He's all gnarly and mean and smoking a big-ass cigar. He looks pretty hard, actually.
Seeing the whole band provides an important reminder that you can’t form a secret society on your own. Nope, you can’t be a Mason on your tod, although if you put the word TOD into the word MASON, you get… MTODASON. That must mean something. Anything.
When you think about it, clowns and metal aren’t that different. Slipknot, one of the greatest metal bands of all time, was co-founded by a clown. Brightly-coloured hair regularly features on the more cartoonish end of metal, facepaint is pretty key to several metal subgenres, and squeezing too many people into a small car is something everyone in a band is familiar with.
The Feejee Mermaid was a popular thing in sideshows and circuses, made famous by P.T. Barnum. It would generally consist of half a monkey stitched to half a fish, which is a waste of somewhere between 0.5 and 1.0 of both of those things, and exhibited as a genuine preserved mermaid. People did weird shit for entertainment in the old days.
This video came out in 2006, and yet this lady seems to have the dog filter thing that Snapchat introduced this year. Madness. How? HOW?
The gentleman in the shades sat at the bar is Neil Fallon of Clutch. His mighty roar will soon emanate from Puddles The Clown, embodying Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab.
Both Leviathan and previous album Remission close with a lengthy instrumental named after this guy, Joseph Merrick, better known as The Elephant Man. Here he is just enjoying a drink. Not through his trunk though – he is not a real elephant, it was merely a cruel nickname. The cruellest thing about bullying him is that he’ll never forget it.
Do Puddles’ knuckle tattoos say CORN/DOGS? To his credit, corn dogs are delicious – they’re like lollipops made of flesh!
Brann Dailor’s middle name is Timothy, but it should be Phil, right, because he’s really good at drum fills, and, like, then he’d be… Um… Is this thing on?
You know what you don’t see in a lot of music videos? Toilets filled with sick. Here's one chap giving shout-outs to his mates Ralph, Huey and Burt.
Bearded ladies were another sideshow staple in the Barnum days. Sometimes they were women wearing false beards, sometimes they were men in drag, and sometimes, like in the case of Madame Clofillia and Lady Olga Roderick, were full-on genuine bearded ladies. Hipsters before there was such a thing.
As much as seeing a clown using a condom machine is upsetting, as it reminds us that clowns are sexually active. However, the most upsetting thing should be the fact that it’s out of order. He might end up breeding. Clown-clown sex is just going to make more clowns. Even more clowns than we’ve already had inflicted upon us. Unthinkable.
What we learned from Blood and Thunder
Clowns are horrifying. It’s possible, of course, that within the context of the Leviathan concept album, they signify the growing madness in the mind of Ahab, the increasing schism between him and reality. Or the Illuminati are taking over according to some enthusiastic internet users. Or it’s possible Bill Kelliher was telling the truth when asked about the video replying, “it has nothing to do with anything”.