Nope, it’s not movie news per se, BUT I’m trying to ease back into the horror scene after a long, pre-Halloween slumber. I’m kicking in the movie scene by reviewing Pandorum in the next day or two, but when a bunch of cartoon characters from “Adult Swim” can singlehandedly resurrect the flagging “death metal” scene, that’s news for the ages.
Dethalbum II, by the fictional band Dethklok, hit iTunes last night at midnight and I downloaded it immediately. Why? Because Dethalbum I was so popular and completely owned the genre it satirizes. I listened to a lot of death metal in my high school days, but even the bands that were supposed to be the best (most people wouldn’t be able to tell one way or the other) couldn’t hold a candle to the superbly written and produced songs. Creator Brandon Small (creator of an earlier Adult Swim title, Home Movies) took his love for heavy metal and his musical ability to create one of the greatest death metal bands of all time…
And it’s a joke.
For those that have never seen the cartoon or don’t even know what the hell I’m talking about, this fictional cartoon band, Dethklok, starts on their own 15 minute show Metalocalypse on The Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim night program lineup. It takes place in a near future where the band Dethklok has not only become the most popular band of all time, but also the world’s 7th largest economy and the worlds largest driving cultural force. The band members are selfish, idiotic goofballs who struggle to do everyday things like learn how to drive, buy groceries, or even try their hand at stand up comedy. Unfortunately, Dethklok’s power and negligence usually result in the death of their fans at their concerts, but a secret government cabal know as “The Tribunal” offers up a different theory. They believe in a prophecy that Dethklok will bring about the end of the world or “The Metalocalypse” and must find a way to stop them.
If you listen to the lyrics (and if you could understand them), you’d hear some of the most darkly funny lines ever to grace an in-cover lyric guide.
“Feel my fist… On your face… You hate this… I feel great!”
“I hate this audience… regardless of applaudience”
“If I could write off your Murder… I’d save all of my receipts.”
“You have lined my pockets… Overflowed with gold… You’re living with your parents… And you’re 35 years old”
And so forth. The first Dethalbum debut at #21 on the Billboard Charts, so you can imagine the fan base these guys have developed since then.
Many of these joke songs accompany a particular episode of the series and focus on a particular concept for which the laughs are based. Here’s how I think the process from episode to album (without doing any research on this) works: The episode gets written, voiced over and while the animators work on the episode, Small and the other songwriters/performers whip up a rough edit of a song or part of a song to go along with the episode. Later, when the season is completed, Small and company go into the recording studio and spend several months cutting longer, more polished versions of the episode songs, while the animators draw up videos to accompany them.
After they release the album, Small and Co. go on tour as “Dethklok” and – much like the Gorillaz – play in the shadows as the animated music videos play in the background. Genius no?
I have my tickets to see them play with Mastodon in Dallas on November the 11th. You didn’t get your tickets yet? Awww, that’s too bad. They are sold out already in most venues. Shoulda gotten them on opening day like I did, sucker.
Dethalbum II – after listening to it once through – is more of the same musical genius… a combination of hilarious lyric writing and death metal ownage. Songs like Bloodlines and Burn the Earth feel more serious and legit than previous efforts while jokier songs like Dethsupport and I Tamper With the Evidence at the Murder Site of Odin need more scrutiny to hear their hilarious lines.
The song I was most interested to hear in its completion was a standout for Season 2 of the show. Black Fire Upon Us got me watching the YouTube clip of the song over and over again from the episode. It was a season highlight and I looked forward to hearing the finished version. Unfortunately, the finished version has little of the intensity of the rough cut, probably a victim of overproducing.
Dethalbum II contains no ballads (like Dethharmonic in the first album) or incindiary instrumentals (like Thunderhorse), but what it does have is a sequel song. Murmaider II: The Water God isn’t quite as fun as the the original but it does add some neat twists and new riffs.
Personal favorites (right off the bat): Bloodlines, The Gears, Burn the Earth, The Cyborg Slayers, Comet Song and Volcano gave me the best first impression. I imagine, like with Dethalbum I, I will learn to love the rest.
I’m going to absorb this album until I know the songs inside and out so I can effectively rock out when I see them (sorta) on stage. My advice to fans of death metal, Dethklok and Metalocalypse… Run out and buy this album or download it from iTunes immediately. Do it now. I can wait…
In the meantime, here’s the premiere video from Dethalbum II. If you’ve watch Metalocalypse reruns in the past month, you’ve seen this video open many of the episodes. Here’s the kick-ass video for my favorite song so far on the album… Bloodlines. Consider yourself pwned…
Dr. Rockso, will you buy the new Dethalbum?
Dr. Rockso: I don’t know. I g-g-g-g-g-g-guess so!!!
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