Archive for Heavy Metal

Have Yourself a Heavy Metal Christmas


Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! You in the mood for some Christmas music? Me, too! But not any wimpy carols, man. I got a heavy metal heart, so get in the mosh pit, throw your horns up, and let’s have a headbanger’s holiday!

And before you start — no, no, no, not going to listen to anyone who wants to complain that this is anti-Christmas or anything like that. I like classical Christmas music a lot, but ain’t nothing better than a few non-traditional carols. And this stuff is light-years better than most of the Christmas country or pop music that’s cluttering up the radio these days.

So yeah. Heavy metal Christmases rock.

If you ain’t in the Christmas spirit by now, turn in your headbanging license.

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Heavy Metal Thunder

Wow, I am really, really late to the party with this one, but I love heavy metal, I loved their first album, so I really think I’d better get with it and review this one.

Dethalbum II by Dethklok

Let’s recap: Cartoon Network runs a late-night programming block called “Adult Swim,” devoted to more grown-up cartoons like “Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law,” “The Venture Brothers,” and “Robot Chicken.” One of their recent hits has been “Metalocalypse,” a show created by Brendan Small and Tommy Blacha, focuses on death metal band called Dethklok, which is, amazingly and awesomely, the most popular musical act in the world, with the 12th largest economy in the world, billions of insanely devoted fans, and the menacing attentions of world leaders terrified of their influence.

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. That’s all, just Pickles. The entire show parodies heavy metal, but it’s very affectionate parody — metal fans and musicians love this show, and a lot of performers — band members from Metallica to Cannibal Corpse — have signed on to do short, silly cameos in the cartoon.

Well, a couple years ago, Dethklok released an album called “Dethalbum.” Yes, a fictional band releasing a real CD. Most of the music was provided by Brendan Smalls, with Gene Hoglan of Dark Angel, Death, and Strapping Young Lad working the drums. It was a fantastic album, and it was actually the highest-charting death metal album ever. Smalls and Hoglan even took a few other musicians on the road, performing (behind a screen) as Dethklok in live shows.

So now they’ve made a sequel — “Dethalbum II.” Smalls again provides all the vocals, guitars, and keyboards, with Hoglan back on board as drummer. It didn’t beat the first album’s record showing on the charts, but its respectable showing would seem to indicate that there’s still a lot of goodwill for Dethklok among the world’s metalheads (and Adult Swim fans, who probably picked up quite a few themselves).

Is the sequel as good as the original “Dethalbum”? No, probably not. The first record benefitted from having some of the band’s best-known songs from the cartoon series, including “Birthday Dethday,” “Awaken,” and the epic “Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle.” The new album doesn’t have any songs of that caliber.

The new album is also a lot less funny, with a ton more emphasis being placed on pure metal. This actually ends up harming it in comparison to the first one, because a lot of what made it stand out was the gleeful lunacy of a band that sang about how much they hate their fans, about murderous mermaids, about Vikings who get lost because they won’t ask anyone for directions.

The original “Dethalbum” had song titles like “Bloodrocuted,” “Briefcase Full of Guts,” and “Hatredcopter” — and while those are fairly silly titles, they’re also absolutely true to the death-metal spirit. The new album’s titles are relatively tame in comparison, with the notable exception of “I Tamper with the Evidence at the Murder Site of Odin,” which is an epic and fantastic title for a song that, while pretty darned good, isn’t really epic or fantastic.

Is this a bad album? Absolutely not. Again, it’s a vastly more metal album, and if you love heavy metal, that’s great news. Lots of the songs here are great rockers — “Bloodlines,” “The Gears,” “They Cyborg Slayers,” and “Murmaider II: The Water God” are some of my personal favorites and are guaranteed — like, to be honest, most of the other tracks here — to get your head banging good and hard. Smalls’ devotion to heavy metal thunder is pitch-perfect, and Hoglan is a monster on the drums — if you can stop thrashing around for a few minutes to actually listen to him, he’s a revelation. If the cartoon Pickles can drum anywhere near as awesomely as the real-world Hoglan, Dethklok isn’t paying the dude near enough.

So it’s not as good as the first album — big deal. Being almost as good as the most popular death-metal album ever is still pretty fantastic. “Dethalbum II” is a brutal, merciless, metal-clad fist-to-the-face, and you should go out and buy it.

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Death and Death Metal


Dethklok versus the Goon

Oh, mercy. Someone up there must like me.

Who do we got here? We got “The Goon,” Eric Powell’s crude, hilarious, hyper-violent, horror-noir pulp, and we got Dethklok from Adult Swim’s “Metalocalypse,” Brendon Small’s crude, hilarious, hyper-violent heavy-metal cartoon. It’s all written and illustrated by Powell, with Small stepping in to help. We start out with an evil plot to control the world using William Murderface’s inbred brain, combined with a brainwashed Dr. Rockzo the Rock and Roll Clown (He does cocaine!) trying to kill Dethklok. But things go improbably awry, leaving Dethklok’s gigantic headquarters Mordhaus stuck in the same dimension as the Goon’s Lonely Street. So the Goon and his pals initially mistake Dethklok for some of the new girls at the local brothel before some hijinx get started. Skwisgar does the nasty with Mama Norton, Rockzo introduces Franky to cocaine, Dethklok plays a concert, and the Goon slaughters untold multitudes of Dethklok’s henchmen.

Verdict: You gotta ask? Thumbs up. This ain’t deep storytelling, but if you love Dethklok and you love the Goon, you will love the bleeding screaming snot out of this. Powell is a lot better at drawing the Goon than he is at drawing Dethklok, but he’s absolutely got the cartoon’s brand of humor down perfectly. Tons of hilarious moments and lines here — I won’t spoil the best line in the comic, but you’ll know it when you see it. I also loved Murderface’s reaction after their manager questions the wisdom of promoting the band’s new album by shooting a thousand bald eagles out of a cannon and into George Washington’s face on Mount Rushmore: “Well, I’m sorry! I didn’t know you hated America!” And Dethklok’s concert is just brilliant, as is Franky’s critique of it — “What’s that sound?! It tells me my skin is alive and it hates me!”

Repeating for emphasis: LOVED IT.


Green Lantern #44

The Blackest Night has started, as one of the black rings revives the Martian Manhunter, who goes after Hal Jordan and the recently resurrected Barry Allen. Do they have a chance against a shapeshifting telepathic zombie Martian Superman? I wouldn’t bet on it. Meanwhile, the evil Guardian called Scar reveals to the other captured Guardians what’s going on — emotions are the cause of chaos in the universe, so she plans to bring order by extinguishing all emotions and killing all sentient life. And John Stewart is about to find out what happens when the black rings zombify an entire planet.

Verdict: Thumbs up. J’onn makes an excellent villain here — tossing buildings, shapeshifting, reading minds, and decisively knocking the stuffing out of a couple of DC’s heaviest hitters. The rationale behind Scar’s plot is good, too, and I’m looking forward to seeing what a Black Lantern Planet is going to be like. And yes, Doug Mahnke really is the perfect artist for this — he does great action, he does wonderful square-jawed heroes, and his monsters and zombies are the best in the biz.

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The Most Metal Thing Ever!

Dethklok vs. The Goon! Let me repeat: Dethklok vs. The Goon!

Yes, the Goon, as in “The Goon,” Eric Powell’s incredible noir-horror masterpiece of zombie fighting, toilet humor, and big guys wearing cloth caps.

Yes, Dethklok, as in the insanely brutal death metal band from the twisted and head-banging “Metalocalypse” cartoon on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

Yes, it’s coming out in July, with Eric Powell and “Metalocalypse” creator Brendan Small rocking the comics pages.

And yes, it’s still the most metal thing ever, even though it’s gonna be in a comic book and won’t have any actual heavy metal music playing.

Yes, I’m gonna get it. Don’t you get in my way, or I’m stickin’ a shiv in yer neck.

(Via here, here, and here)

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This and That, Here and There

I’ve got neither the time nor the inclination to do much of a post today. So you’ll have to make do with a few of these random links.

* If you’ve never heard of Rob Liefeld… count yourself lucky. He’s widely considered the worst and most painfully inept artist working in comics today. He got popular in the ’90s, when style-over-substance artwork was all the rage, but unlike a lot of popular artists in the ’90s, he’s actually been getting worse as the years pass. Anyway, here’s a link to a bunch of his worst drawings, with appropriately funny and crude commentary.

* Valerie D’Orazio is printing some excerpts from a book she’s writing about the comics industry and growing up geek. Go check out Part One, then go read the rest of her site for some more goodies.

* Did you know that Orson Welles planned to make a Batman movie with an all-star cast back in the 1940s? Is it true? Definitely not. But it’s probably the best comics-related hoax ever.

* New costumes for Wonder Woman? Of course, they won’t make it into the comics, but they look like good fun.

* We’ve talked before about how much I love heavy metal, right? Check out “Brutal Legend,” a video game coming out next year. Designed by Tim Schafer, who put together games like “The Secret of Monkey Island,” “Full Throttle,” “Grim Fandango,” and “Psychonauts”. Click “Live Gig” to see the game’s trailer — yes, it is the most METAL computer game in history. Vocal actors include Jack Black, Rob Halford, Ronnie James Dio, and Lemmy from Motorhead. Numerous metal bands are providing songs for the soundtrack. I hope they release this for PC so I don’t have to go out and buy a console…

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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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