Watch Radiohead's Sinister 'Burn the Witch' Video - Rolling Stone
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Watch Radiohead’s Sinister ‘Burn the Witch’ Video

Band pays stop-motion homage to ‘The Wicker Man’ in first song off upcoming LP

After briefly erasing their internet presence, Radiohead‘s official website came back to life Tuesday with a new video for “Burn the Witch,” potentially the first single off the band’s upcoming ninth studio album. Radiohead previously teased the track’s arrival with a mysterious leaflet sent to fans this weekend.

“Burn the Witch” dates as far back as 2003, when the phrase appeared in the artwork of Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief. The song was teased on the band’s subsequent tours but never played in full, although Thom Yorke posted what was believed to be the song’s lyrics in 2007 on the band’s Dead Air Space.

The band released a brief statement noting that the song will be “available on all digital services” starting at midnight tonight. The group also updated their social media presence, adding new art to their Facebook page and Twitter page.

Many of those lyrics, including the opening refrain “Stay in the shadows / Cheer at the gallows / This is a low-flying panic attack,” have resurfaced on the band’s new version of the song. The orchestral and menacing “Burn the Witch” is a heavy departure musically from the band’s last LP The King of Limbs.

Directed by Chris Hopewell of Jackknife, the same production company that helmed Radiohead’s 2003 video for Hail to the Thief‘s “There There,” “Burn the Witch” is a clever stop-motion ode to the 1973 British occult film The Wicker Man, a movie that dealt with witchcraft in modern times (Note: Not the campy Nic Cage remake).

In the video, as in the film, a man enters a seemingly normal community, only to discover something more sinister under the cheery exterior, a theme further solidified by the childlike figurines used in the clip. In the end, it’s revealed that the protagonist has escaped “the Wicker Man” unscathed and exits the town amid a bird’s dawn chorus; Radiohead recently filed an LLC under the name “Dawn Chorus.”

Radiohead have not yet announced the details of their upcoming LP, the follow-up to 2011’s The King of Limbs.

Watch Radiohead’s Thom Yorke DJ at last year’s Climate March in London.

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