Atmosphere Explores The Meaning of “Pure Evil” in New Video

“Innocence is a submissive position.”

Underground Kings Atmosphere recently released a video for ”Pure Evil,” a single from their upcoming Fishing Blues album. The Minnesota duo has been releasing a steady trickle of singles in the past couple years, and “Pure Evil”–which features I.B.E. on the stirringly somber chorus–is one of the more substantive and impressive tracks of late.

“Pure Evil” highlights America’s increasingly disheartening state of police affairs. Slug, never one to shy away from heavy subject matter, explores the internal struggle of a police officer as they reflect on the path they’ve chosen to walk behind the blue wall of silence.

Slug begins with an analytical verse that gently acknowledges that not all cops are bad cops before exploring the idea that a nefarious policing system instills evil into its officers, corrupting the actions of people who aren’t inherently amoral.

“When I woke up this morning my only intention was to look in my reflection with mutual respect, yeah I know I’m more than just a badge and a weapon”

Slug then exercises his poetic lyricism to paint a picture of the horrific reality of police brutality that citizens are susceptible to on any given day. The imagery and analogies Slug use clash with the excuses laid out by the officer’s in the song. The admissions that excessive force and abuse are the go-to solutions (depending on how the victim fits into the cop’s personal bias spectrum) are opposite of the philosophy one would expect from somebody that hopes to respect themselves every time they see their reflection.

His thoughts parallel those of cop critics who feel such justifications don’t excuse the “pure evil” exhibited by power-tripping cops.

In one particular line Slug states, “I was told to tell a one sided story, and that’s why I had to eliminate your perspective.” The word “eliminate” should resonate strongly with listeners. Though he could have said “censor” or “quiet,” the reality is that individuals killed in police encounters are eliminated before they can tell the public their side of the story.

The cinematic imagery in the music video–relying on desert scenery–gives off a “Breaking Bad” energy. The video follows one officer as he handles a violent predicament, in which it’s implied that deadly force was employed. The visuals are accompanied by an ominous, minimalist beat, where piano, bass and synth process forward at an eerily slow and steady pace–which could easily have matched that of a funeral procession.

The most striking scene comes at the close of the video, when the officer removes his uniform and burns it in a ditch. He crouches naked as he’s warmed by the flames of the identity he’s eliminating, unable to to cope with the person he has ultimately become. This goes to show how we may never have the power to burn down the system entirely, but it is within our means to remove the evil the system impresses upon our individual being. We’ve got to start somewhere.

Fishing Blues, due out on August 12th, is available for preorder. The video for “Pure Evil” can be streamed below.

Louis Pratt