Music Video Showcase: ‘Cone of Shame’ by Faith No More

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 “Cone of Shame” by Faith No More.

Faith No More has long been one of my favorite bands, but early on their videos…well, they often left something to be desired. Aside from the fish-flopping epicness that was, well, “Epic” (1990), most of those early videos ranged from forgettable to goofy to bad. But starting around 1995’s King for a Day/Fool for a Lifetime, they began experimenting with a more cinematic approach, typified by their near shot-for-shot tribute to Hitchcock’s Vertigo with “Last Cup of Sorrow,” off 1997’s Album of the Year.

Cone of Shame feels like one of those pulpy but arty European erotic thrillers you stumble across every so often on late-night cable.

Faith No More returned last year after an 18-year break between albums with the masterful Sol Invictus. Earlier this year they released “Cone of Shame,” their third music video from the record. Written and directed by Goce Cvetanovski, “Cone of Shame” is seedy and striking. The vaguely surreal narrative about a European crime boss (Mitko Apostolovski) retaliating against a young man (Ismail Kasumi) who takes his favorite moll (Slagana Vujosevik) is the perfect marriage of coal-black imagery with a song where the most memorable lyric is the shouted refrain, “I’d like to peel your skin off to see what you really think.”

Filmed in Macedonia, “Cone of Shame” feels like one of those pulpy, but arty, European erotic thrillers you stumble across every so often on late-night cable. The video uses the structure of the song—a long, tension filled intro that owes as much to Morricone and Leonard Cohen as it does to Metallica—that suddenly lunges headlong into a thrash-metal buzz-saw to create some very real suspense and a stunning payoff.

Cvetanovski starts off with a blue-tinged helicopter shot of a motorcyclist making his way up a lonely mountain road before bringing us into a dingy, smoke-filled bar where the crime boss sits playing poker, his moll at his side. Once the motorcyclist enters and begins exchanging long, intense looks with the moll, we think we know where the story is going. But as the song explodes into its conclusion, the story jumps forward and doubles back on itself—becoming in equal parts more sensual and more violent until the sex and the brutality become nearly indistinguishable. This all culminates in a final shot as weird as it is disturbing. There are no heroes in this compact little narrative, only victims and villains.

The video isn’t without its own twisted sense of humor. I particularly enjoy the snaggletoothed accordion-and-mandolin playing bar band serving as oblivious stand-ins for the real thing.

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