September 13, 2007

CD Review: Dethklok - Dethalbum

I have something to get off my chest. I have never seen an entire episode of Metalocalypse. There, I said it. You know what? I actually feel better now. It is like a giant weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Now, I am not completely unfamiliar with the exploits of Dethklok, but I am extremely limited. For those with even less knowledge than I, Dethklok is an animated band (said to be the world's greatest cultural force) whose touring is chronicled on the Adult Swim series, Metalocalypse. The Dethalbum is their debut release, and it is poised to melt your face off.

The Dethalbum features sixteen songs culled from the series. They have been re-recorded and expanded upon to fill out an entire LP. The men behind the music are Brendon Small and Gene Hoglan. Small wrote all of the lyrics and performs all of the vocal, guitar, and Bass parts. Hoglan, who metal fans will remember for his tenures with Death, Death Angel, Testament, and Strapping Young Lad, plays the drums with reckless abandon. Together they have crafted some of the finest music ever created by a band that doesn't exist (kind of like Michael Knight).

Toki, Pickles, Nathan, Murderface, SkwisgaarKnowing the musical duo behind the band only tells you half the story. To truly know Dethklok (something I am still working towards, and something that the impending season 1 DVD release will help), you have to meet the animated band members. Yes, I mean animated in both senses of the word. Leading the band is vocalist Nathan Explosion, a man who possesses the voice of death itself in his throat of rough velvet. It is not the easiest voice to understand, but if you take the time you will discover an unending stream of humorous lyrics. Once wrapping your head around Nathan, step to the side and meet the fastest and second fastest guitar players in the world, a duo prepared to melt your face with a solo and kick in your head with a heavy riff. They are lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf and rhythm guitarist Toki Wartooth. Handling the bass duties is William Murderface, whose instrument is usually removed from the mix (at least according to Nathan). Rounding out the quintet is their skullet sporting drummer, Pickles.

Dethklok may not be a real band, its members may be animated and always finding themselves in some sort of jam, and their lyrics may be humorous at best and dumb at worst, but there is no denying the real skill behind them. Dethalbum is nothing if not catchy as hell. The only pre-requisite for enjoying this album is that you have at least some interest in and enjoyment of the metal genre. So, if your tastes run to the likes of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, you need not apply here. Whereas, if you know who Strapping Young Lad, Amon Amarth, and Morbid Angel are, you will want to take a look at what the mighty Dethklok has to offer.

From the opening moments of "Mermaider" through the catchy "Check" portion you will be hooked. Your hand will be a clenched fist punching the air over your head while your head will be manically rocking back and forth to the rhythm. Dethklok will drag you along through the likes of "Fansong," "Better Metal Snake," "Thunderhorse," "Face Fisted (aka New Phrygian Song)," and even their pairing with the London Philharmonic for "Dethharmonic," before closing with the "Deththeme." This is just a smattering of the good tracks to be found among the sixteen on the disk.

If you are special enough, you will pick up the two disk special edition release of the Dethalbum, which gives you seven more tracks of Dethklok branded joy. Among these additional bonus cuts are "Murdertrain 'a Comin'," and "Kill You" which features Pickles on the mic in a bluesy rock tune. The special edition comes to a close with the band attempting to get into tune.

Bottomline. What can I say? This album is an absolute blast. The music is solid, the lyrics are fun, and it does inspire a little old school headbanging. For a cartoon centered on a metal band, that is a comedy at heart, there is a true sense of metal here, a sense that many so-called metal bands wish they had in the real world.

Highly Recommended.


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