Maximum Metal Mayhem!

I’m taking another short break from comics stuff to review something that’s not a comic book.


The Dethalbum by Dethklok

A little background — because, yes, you need to know some of the backstory here to really appreciate this CD. Cartoon Network has a late-night programming block called “Adult Swim” for cartoons that are designed to appeal to grownups more than kids — some anime programs like “Cowboy Bebop,” “FLCL,” and “Paranoia Agent,” some syndicated rebroadcasts from other networks like “Futurama” and “Family Guy,” even some live-action shows like “Saved by the Bell” and “Peewee’s Playhouse.” But most of what they do is original cartoons like “Space Ghost Coast to Coast,” “Sealab 2021,” “Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” and “Robot Chicken.”

One of their recent hits has been a show called “Metalocalypse,” which features what is my — and probably your — ideal dream world: a world where the greatest and most influential cultural force on the planet is a death metal band called Dethklok. As the 12th largest economy on earth, with billions of fans so fanatical that they’ll sign “pain waivers” to absolve the band from any liability if the fans are horribly mutilated or killed during their shows, the members of Dethklok are free to spend their days being impossibly rich and utterly incompetent, but still 110% metal and brutal.

The band members include brooding lead singer Nathan Explosion, Swedish guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf (the fastest guitarist in the world), Norwegian guitarist Toki Wartooth (the second-fastest guitarist in the world), self-loathing bassist William Murderface, and balding, dreadlocked drummer, Pickles the Drummer. The show, created by Brendan Small and Tommy Blacha, is chock full of cameo appearances by heavy metal musicians and seriously awesome heavy metal music.

Which leads us to this CD. It’s not a soundtrack of the show — it’s a bunch of the music snippets we have heard Dethklok play, but expanded to full length, and there are some brand new songs, too. The regular CD has 16 tracks — I got the deluxe CD, which has an extra seven tracks, plus a music video and an episode from the show. You may have already heard that this CD debuted on the Billboard charts at #21, making it the highest charting death metal album ever.

So how is it? It’s good. It’s really, really good. Yes, the songs are often pretty humorous. You’ve got “Fansong,” which is a song about how much the band hates its own fans, you’ve got “Dethharmonic,” which is a tribute to greed, backed by a symphony orchestra. It’s got “Murmaider,” which is about mermaids and killing people with a wide variety of deadly weapons in the depths of the ocean. It’s got songs with titles like “Hatredcopter,” “Castratikron,” “Briefcase Full of Guts,” and “Bloodtrocuted.”

And despite some of the goofy content, this stuff will absolutely rock your face off. It’s brutal, it’s unrelenting, it’s everything you want from a metal album. Every metal fan who listens to this is gonna be banging his or her head by the time the first song is over. And believe it or not, it’s also catchy as hell, which means, if it gets any kind of mainstream play out there, it’s almost guaranteed to manufacture more metal fans.

And I’m amazed that this whole album was blasted out by only a very few musicians. Brandon Small, the show’s creator, does the vocals, guitars, bass, and keyboards, while Gene Hoglan (from Dark Angel, Death, and Strapping Young Lad) works the drums. Heavy metal violinist Emilie Autumn performs as the entire symphony on “Dethharmonic.”

To make a long review short: If you’re a metalhead, you should go get this album. You will love it. If you’re not a metalhead, you should probably get it anyway, because this CD will turn you totally metal, and the world needs more metal heads. If you can find it, grab the deluxe edition, just because it has the “Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle,” which is the most metal coffee jingle ever, but if you can’t find the deluxe edition, get the regular version, which is still metal enough to shred the meat from your bones.

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