This or That: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats or Slayer

THIS or THAT explores the world of music and attempts to decide, you know, if this is the thing and if that is just that.

Let’s romanticise prison for a moment. The Shawshank Redemption did it. Johnny Cash did it. Hogan’s Heroes did it. And today we’ve got two videos from two distinctly different artists – Nathaniel Rateliff and Slayer – taking place in prisons, and this week at Dr. Loser we’re going to determine which one has THIS and which one is just that.


First up is the relative newcomer Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats with the most commercial friendly song to use a curse word since that Cee-Lo “Fuck/Forget You” song. I imagine you can say ‘bitch’ on the radio / TV these days, but if you can’t then I’m sure it won’t be long until the clean version of Rateliff’s “S.O.B.” is playing in car ads and movie trailers for the next year. The song has that perfect mainstream mix of catchy throwback hummery and dopey dude ironic fist-pumping to slip onto youngsters’ playlists beside Drake and whatever new act is playing Jimmy Fallon this week.

But why put this video in a prison?

Going for that hipster fashion sense mixed with some old school musical legitimacy in that washed-out brown palette of O Brother, Where Art Thou? I guess if you’re in prison (or playing in a prison) that means you’re either poor or liberal which is cool, and you’ve got some credibility with bad-asses which is extra cool. Only this prison looks like the PC set of an NBC sitcom, and the music is so safe you could hide your valuables in it. As much as Rateliff wants to look legit by setting this video inside a prison, I’m thinking he just trapped himself in a mainstream career as hardcore as Imagine Dragons and or X Ambassadors.

On the other hand, there is this ridiculously NSFW Slayer video for “Repentless”:

Uh, yeah. Doesn’t get much better than this.

Obviously Slayer doesn’t care about doing anything remotely mainstream and thus as a result probably become more typically mainstream than something like that cookie-cutter Ratecliff song. Sure, you won’t hear Slayer in any bumpers between commercials during and NFL game but the insanity of this video’s prison riot violence is akin to the gore of The Walking Dead and the evil intentions of Empire, the two most bizarrely popular TV shows in America.

Shit… there is no comparison really. Slayer has got THIS by a universe-length of space.

That weak-ass “riot” at the end of the Rateliff video looks about as dangerous as the Westminster Dog Show, and both the prisoners and band member are closer to the line-up for a casting call for Gap ad campaign. While that Slayer video feels like you’re watching a crowd-funded prison B-movie made in a real prison by prisoners, and if you put all the actors and band members in a room with real prisoners, I doubt anyone would be able to tell which is which.

And you can’t compare those songs. If you find yourself tapping your toes to “S.O.B.”, congrats you’re officially a normal person. If you want to punch a wall for fun while listening to “Replentless” then you are an exceptionally pure, raw human being capable of appreciating the extraordinary and conquering the most epic of obstacles.

So yeah, easiest This or That in Dr. Loser history, Slayer you are THIS and Natethaniel Ratlife and the Night Sweats, you are definitely, absolutely THAT loser!

Nathaniel Rateliff

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