After the last year we’ve had, I think we could all do with some cheering up. Maybe some positive-vibes music? Something joyous and uplifting that has a heart-warming video to go with it? Well, that’s the exact opposite of what we’re premiering today – Peine Kapital’s new music video for their song “L’ivoire L’ébène La Foudre”, taken from their recent split EP with Sleazebag. It is 11 minutes of absolute aural and visual abuse, and it manages to be somehow both depressing and exhilarating.
Where do we begin with this one? First off, let me say that if you are at all squeamish or sensitive to images of violence, stop right here. There are shots in this video that are designed to be uncomfortable, so if you’d rather not subject yourself to that, click play and then scroll elsewhere, or give it a listen on Bandcamp. That having been said, the confrontational nature of the video’s imagery is certainly underpinned by the song’s incessant, violent distortion and smotheringly heavy riffs.
Shots of police brutality are frequently overlaid with other, equally unappealing things – I found myself trying to focus on the less awful one, but just found no escape, and I guess that’s precisely the point. The middle of the music video offers a few brief moments of comfort, the only part of the video not shot in black and white, and also the only part focused on nature rather than humans and their evil deeds. I actually enjoy many of the visual and musical pairings in this video, particularly the juxtaposition of the song’s brutal ending riff and shots of Donald Trump dancing – it seems cynical rather than just ironic, and very, very deliberate.
[Editor’s note: due to the age restriction on the video, you may have to click through to view it on YouTube itself. As alluded to before, content warning for all manners and flavors of violent and unsettling imagery]
As horrific as some of the parts of the video are, I find myself very drawn to the mournful poetry of the song’s lyrics, which are layered in amongst the video’s images. I don’t speak French, so please pardon any crude translations (courtesy of the eternally language-defiling Google Translate) – I’d like to draw attention to the second verse of “L’ivoire L’ébène La Foudre”: ‘Admire the bodies that kill each other/Behold the piling up dead/Watch this ever more absurd world/Here is the fruit of our turpitudes’ (‘Admire les corps qui s’entretuent/Contemple les morts qui s’accumulent/Observe ce monde toujours plus absurd/Voici le fruit de nos turpitudes’). Something about those first two lines hits deep in my stomach – perhaps it’s a statement about how desperate we are to witness human suffering, yet how unwilling we are to accept it as truth? How much of a kick we get out of seeing people die, how much we deny their humanity until it serves our own agenda to martyr them?
If the motive of this song and its video were to get the viewer to face their hypocrisy in this regard, Peine Kapital certainly succeeded in doing this to me. Considering how into violent music I am, I find it ironic how much I found myself trying to look away from the disturbing images in the video, how unwilling I was to accept that the things pictured really do happen – in short, how resistant I am to seeing real violence. I know I’m a coward with things like this and would always rather turn a blind eye, but “L’ivoire L’ébène La Foudre” really spelled it out for me.
If you enjoyed “L’ivoire L’ébène La Foudre”, if it made you feel uncomfortable but you kind of liked it, or if it made you think critically about anything at all, you can buy Peine Kapital’s split with Sleazebag through Sludgelord Records here, and you can also find them on Bandcamp, Facebook, and Instagram. If Peine Kapital are right, and ‘Our world, and our guts, are cracking’ (‘Notre monde, et nos entrailles, se fissurent’), let’s enjoy this glorious, wretched music while we can.