I got to know Mike Terror when we served as judges during the annual Gothic Beauty Pageant, which is always a grand, if often unintentionally hilarious, spectacle. Over the years we've bumped into each other as Houston goths do, but I've never really gotten into him as an artist.
Then one day he told me he was making a music video, and I perked right up because if there is one thing goth acts in this city don't do enough of it's music videos. Certainly not really good ones. Mike Terror has changed that with "Snakes 'N' Fakes."
Though he had a lot of help behind the camera, most of the vision and direction is his. For a first time outing it's incredible, with amazing attention paid to color, pacing, shot composition, and excitement. Terror has the chops in him to be a pretty damned good music video maker, both as an artist and as an auteur.
Set for the most part in our own Jet Lounge, which the band rented out for the evening to shoot, we watch a writhing crowd of malcontents while Terror sits somewhat dead-eyed and angry at the bar in zombie paint and flawless white suit. All around him is a kind of empty debauchery, a thorough mockery of the rock and roll lifestyle that feels painfully desperate. That desperation shows plainly in Terror's face.
He's just so incurably immune to everything around him in the video, even when hurling a contract into the air behind him after a bro-douche in an Ed Hardy shirt slides up to him and tries to cut a deal. Terror responds with something like berserker apathy, just enough rage to let his bar mate know that he's rejected, but still maintaining an understated petty indifference.
So many musicians overact in videos because they're used to trying to speak from stage where everything needs to be a little bigger. In shots of the band playing, Terror certainly does that, but at all other times he stays firmly on the line to get his point across.
"Originally, the song was inspired by my first experiences in the music world," said Terror via email. "We didn't exactly fit the existing mold of what most folks were doing, so naturally we attracted the best and worst from people. Genuine love and appreciation along with hate, spite, people trying to take advantage of us, and people who just wanted to bring us down. The concept broadened with time. Snakes and fakes can be found at every level in society. This song is a giant middle finger to all of them."Rewind James Caronna Redeemed In "The Devil Made a Home"
That's not to say that there are no flaws in the video. Terror makes the amateur mistake of insisting the video fit the length of the song, essentially dragging a three-minute story on past the five-minute mark. There's just not enough movement in the emotional ride to justify sitting through so much of it, and Terror relies a little too much on reusing the same shots of the band rocking out.
Where there is some real nice power is how the video changes so abruptly near the end. After the band leaves the club it suddenly shifts from dark, smoke-filled rooms tinged in red blacks to a bright studio full of explosions green screened on the back walls. Though it adds nothing overall to the feel of a narrative, the style switcheroo is amazingly welcome and doesn't feel at all awkward.
It would have been nice to see Terror take that concept further. Instead of the strange periodic shots we get of him undergoing an autopsy that pepper the piece, why not start with that in as drawn out and coherent an act as the club shots? It's like Terror is a DJ that just slightly messed up the natural progression of his playlist.
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Still, it's an amazing first effort that can't be called anything but amazingly professional. I haven't seen much like it from a local Houston band before, and Terror has set the bar pretty high for what follows. He knows how to rub blood and dirt in our eyes, and "Snakes 'N' Fakes." Check it out below.
Mike Terror plays Brutalfest at Numbers on Saturday, July 6 with EraseTheVirus, Desecrate The Faith, The Razorblade Dolls, Epic Death, Sever The Silence, Dead Trip, Bukit Uh Gutz, Lonestar Massacre, Entrenched Defilement, Availing The Blind, Infinity Kill, Myra Maybelle, A Day Of Bloodshed, Lizzie Borden Had An Axe, Beyond All Deception, Necrotic Priapism, Sirenicide, Embalmed, and 8ETRIBE.