Death Metal from the cartoon world: Dethklok’s new album

 

 

photo courtesy of dethklok.org

 

 

I love metal.

Metal is the music of the soul, given that the soul in question feels the need to rock harder than a landslide, and is as brutal as the night is black.  And when I say brutal, I mean bone-crunchingly ferocious, like a viking with rabies.

With the aforementioned qualifications, one is now left with, literally, hundreds of angry Scandinavians that sound like the cookie monster.

I use this stereotype lightly and with assumed humor, as I happen to enjoy all kinds of metal and I can say factually that metal is as varied as any other genre.  Some of the metal subgenres are death metal, thrash metal, metalcore, and glam metal, to name just a few.  I happen to prefer power metal, but not to the point of exclusivity.

There really is no room for musical snobbiness in the metal scene, mainly because of the open contempt metal fans hold for the more mainstream music genres such as pop and country, but also because of the rabies-ridden vikings.

They’re something to watch out for.  While there is scant a music snob to be seen in the vicinity of metal fans, there are those who recognize some of the more ludicrous trends of heavy metal.  Sometimes known as “rock comedy,” these are bands that are mixtures between parody and actual musicianship.  Most of the time these bands choose to focus more heavily on the parody aspect, but this is not the case with Dethklok.

Dethklok is the product of “Metalocalypse”, a late-night cartoon about the death metal scene.  This show is very much a parody of the death metal subgenre, being blatantly over-the-top and blunt with their comical messages of violence and brutality.  The funniest part about the show though, is how similar the fictional band really is to actual death metal bands.

Set in an alternate world, where Dethklok is the most popular band in the world, Metalocalypse takes every stereotype ever assigned to the death-metal subgenre and puts them in the spotlight.

Now you might think that this is just a gag band spawned from a television show that has no right actually appearing on the music scene (“Hannah Montana” comes to mind), but you would be wrong.  Dethklok is exceptionally good at death metal, something I was surprised to learn when I picked up the bands original album.

“Dethalbum II” is Dethklok’s second studio album, as you may have already guessed.  Classified specifically as melodic death metal, this album will melt your face with shred-tastic might.

Not only is the guitar work phenomenal, but every other aspect of the music quality is just as sophisticated as any other non-virtually based band.  The drums are precise and rhythmic, the bass is where it should be in death metal (hint: it’s not the foreground), and the vocals are surprisingly comprehensible.

Once again, I cannot stress enough how amazing the guitar work is in this album.  It’s like the god of rock himself descended from Valhalla to strike the axe once more.  The last time that happened was the day Kurt Cobain died, so I say that with all seriousness.

Even in the face of the extraordinary melodic death metal, the lyrics are what set Dethklok apart from any other metalheads.  Subjects dealt with in “Dethalbum II” include: homicidal mermaids with god-like complexions, extreme genealogy, volcanos filled with coffee, and post-deicidal mischief, for starters.  Nowhere else will you find a metal band that confronts ridiculousness with even more ridiculousness.

It’s like fighting fire with more fire, and then the fire turns into distilled awesome sauce.  The frankness with which Dethklok attacks the typically overbearing gore in standard death metal makes the parody very subtle and almost invisible.

By treating the music like actual music and not solely comedy, Dethalbum II manages to create a unique and brutal experience, faithful to its metallic roots, but with a dash of spoof.

There are some standout tracks on “Dethalbum II,” but the whole CD really flows.  No central theme is truly present, except for the persistent dedication Dethklok shows to the outlandish and bizarre.  The songs have a wide variance of subjects, so no two songs have the feeling of redundancy that is often seen in typical death metal.  Two of the standout songs are, “Black Fire Upon Us” and “Murmaider II: The Water God.”

The former track starts off with one of the most melodic introductions I have ever heard on any metal song, but while it is indeed melodic, it is also quick and paced, never lacking in verve.  The latter has the coolest and most brutal story to any song or book or movie I have ever experienced and the chorus is catchy and memorable.  It only took two listens before I had decided that “Murmaider II: The Water God” was my favorite song in the whole wide world, a coveted position previously held by “Through the Fire and Flames” by Dragonforce.

“Dethalbum II” is a great album.  Now, remember that when I voice the one issue I have with the album.  It is only two-thirds the size of the first Dethalbum.  Only prior fans would see the downturn in quantity, so it’s not something of overwhelming importance, but it is apparent to me.  Even in light of my one complaint, this album is an unforgettable experience.  If you are already a metal fan, or you can’t wait for the next Weird Al album, or you like the idea of not being maimed by vikings with rabies, you should check this album out.  Available for download and in store, this album wants you to buy it.

 

 

 

 

photo courtesy of dethklok.org

 

 

 

 

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