Arshenic’s new single and music video for “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” was released on April 12th and can be enjoyed on any listening format. It is a beautifully haunting cover of the classic Lead Belly song. Arshenic is a melodic metal band from Poland, formed in 2007 by the vocalist and songwriter, Oliwia “Ofilia” Bartuś-Staszak. The other current members of the band include electric guitarist Włodzimierz “Vlad” Czuba and drummer Bartosz Staszak.
The name of the band is a reference to arsenic, which is generally thought of as a poison, however it can also be a cure. The duality between the strong female vocals, both singing and screaming, matched with clean and distorted guitars, powerful bass, and zestful drums, with a pinch of cellos, electronics, and orchestral sounds rounding out the background can be heard throughout the group’s catalogue of songs.
The music was produced by Dawid Gorgolewski, Studio Osso. The music video’s script was written by Ofilia, and Creo Official was the video producer.
As the video begins, the camera focuses on the coastline near a wooded cliff. It briefly transitions to Ofilia facing the camera wearing a gas mask — a perfect reference to the meaning of the band name — while cradling a black and white cat in her arms.
Returning to the coastline, the camera follows Ofilia as she sings and walks along an empty coastline wearing a black dress, a crystal necklace, a belt with three pentagrams, skeleton tights, and black combat boots as waves crash near her feet. The instruments, her voice, and the beach give the video a nostalgic vibe. Interspersed slow-motion footage of her footsteps lends itself to an ominous atmosphere in the video, paired with the brooding tone of the song.
The instrumentalists are slowly revealed during the music’s buildup. Closeups zoom in on black-gloved hands sliding on the guitar with a skeleton head on the frets. The drummer plays while wearing a white gas mask with the eyes covered in black Xs. The electric guitarist wears a black mask with silver studs covering all but his eyes with a backward baseball cap on his head. The band members wearing masks stare deadpan at the camera.
As the melody sways, Ofilia walks down a dirt path in the woods wearing another gas mask, the hood of her black dress up, with scenes cutting between the woods and the beach. The transitions of water breaking over the sand and clips of rocks with the soft music are soothing.
As the song explodes, Oflilia walks through a graffiti-covered hallway of an abandoned building. These clips are entangled with footage of a forbidden romance, lit by a red-hued light.
The scenes cut back and forth with fluidity. The musicians flicker with high-speed cuts as they play with intensity — a duality of pacing between this point and the beginning, matching the vocals and instrumentals. The video concludes as it began, pulling away from the deserted coastline.
Many elements of this video can certainly speak to viewers that are currently practicing social distancing during the pandemic. Whether that was the intention or not, the video is an emotionally evocative, powerful watch that rolls out slowly and leaves the viewer impacted.
Arshenic’s latest album, Final Collison, released by Sliptrick Records, came out in August of 2019. With their new single out now, hopefully, there’s a new album coming out sometime in 2020. Until then, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” will be playing on repeat.
Fans can find out more information about upcoming shows and announcements through the band’s website, Instagram, and Facebook page.