Dethklok: The Dethalbum Year: 2007 Click here for the artist's site
I remember last year when Dethklok's first CD dropped, people couldn't seem to heap on enough praise. But I took one look at it and thought to myself, 'It's the soundtrack to some silly cartoon show about the most popular metal band in the world. How good could it be?' and I never listened to it.
I'm sad that happened.
For those who aren't familiar with Dethklok, they're the fake metal band from the television show 'Metalocalypse'. This album is a collection of the most metal songs that were created for the show, released as though it was a real record by a real band. But it's so much more than just a soundtrack.
This album is ridiculously fun - it's got the most overblown metal lyrics you'll ever hear, from screeds about murdering mermaids because you can't leave fingerprints underwater to hate-filled invectives directed straight at their fans (or as they refer to them in the aptly titled 'Fansong', 'brainless mutants') to blisteringly heavy symphony-backed rants against the government for wanting them to pay income taxes.
But it's even more than that - it's one of the most thunderous, mean, uproariously fun metal records I've ever heard. It's louder, meaner, and has as much teeth as any other metal album that came out last year (and is, in fact, a lot more metal than many of the supposedly 'heavy' discs released). The fact that all of the instruments are played by one guy (with the exception of the drums) makes it that much more impressive.
Now, don't expect this to be the next great progressive metal epic. It's very straightforward stuff - this isn't going to change the way you think about metal. However, creator Brandon Small does a very good job of capturing the essence of death metal - if only in the name of comedic parody. The amazing thing is that it's through said parody that he makes one of the best examples of what death metal should be. It's supposed to have silly lyrics. It's supposed to have horrible sounding vocals. It's supposed to feel driven and thunderous, cacophonous and agressive, with flying guitar solos and in-your-face downtuned chugging.
And all of those are found by the bucketfull in this album. Small has a sufficiently ugly voice as vocalist Nathan Explosion (he also does the voices of most of the rest of the band), and his rhythm guitars are lean and mean. His basswork is quite adroit. And he does impeccable guitar solos.
These things soar above thump of the music, meedling and noodling enough to make most other metal guitarists jealous. They are a beautiful icing on a delicious metal cake (with mercury frosting, babeh) that truly tie this album together.
In fact, the only thing that Small doesn't do is the drumming - however, SYL veteran Gene Hoglan is in the battery, and the 'Atomic Clock' is as good as he ever was, beating his double basses with his feet almost constantly, making the album that much more abrasive and aggressive. He rounds out the sound perfectly, adding his signature noise just where it needs to be to make things that much more impressive.
Tracks to catch: Album opener 'Murmaider' is great, with the silliest lyrics about underwater killings you'll ever hear. 'Fansong's heavy beat and message about how their fans should all kill themselves parodies the aloofness and uppityness that so many artists espouse with deftness. 'Briefcase Full of Guts' should be self-explanatory. But the true gem of the album is the track 'Dethharmonic', with full orchestral backing, lucid, gorgeous violin work, and words about how the band would rather kill people than pay taxes. It's hilarious.
As I mentioned earlier, this album isn't going to change one's mind about metal - if you like it, you'll dig this album. If you don't, you can't expect Dethklok to change your mind. But there's enough enjoyment here to really merit a listen or ten, if only to revel in the delicious irony of parodies. This CD really is comedy gold and blisteringly heavy, invasive metal.