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Dethklok could be best summed up as an uncomfortable joke within metal's rag-tag community, one that some would laugh at publicly as just good fun at our own expense, while others were somewhat annoyed at this fictional band's popularity relative to actual bands that were paying their dues on the road in Europe throughout the nineties and 2000s. To be fair, there were some that were initially annoyed or even outright bothered by how Spinal Tap originally skewered metal's earlier adherents, and perhaps with the passage of time more may come to warm up to the said fictional band's more recent melodeath offshoot. Putting aside the comical side of this project is extremely difficult, especially given that the earlier LP offerings from the show struggled to function as stand-alone albums, not to mention were mired in production issues in the case of the debut, but with the passage of time has come a level of experience that is quite well reflected in Dethalbum III, so much so that it could stand toe to toe with some of the recent offerings of Amon Amarth, Children Of Bodom and Arch Enemy outside of the televised medium.
In many respects, this album underscores melodic death metal's long professed affinity with older styles of metal and hard rock, particularly that of Iron Maiden and Queen. The high level of layered guitar harmonies and occasional keyboard chime-ins create an intricate atmospheric foil to the typical heaviness of the rhythm section and gallop-happy riffs, resulting in something so dense and compressed in sound as to pass for theatrical. Songwriter and guitarist/vocalist Brendon Small has taken about as many cues from Brian May and Adrian Smith as he has the ongoing Scandinavian melodeath scene and occasional technical nods to Malmsteen (which tend to be more a staple of Finnish melodeath, ironically enough), resulting in a collection of songs that are wider in scope and quite credible, in contrast to the novelty-based and even ditty-like character of earlier works. There isn't anything about this approach that is necessarily groundbreaking, but the mixture of past practices that results here has a fairly unique flavor, even when taking into account how obvious of a nod Small's deep vocal barks are to Chris Barnes and Johan Hegg.
Each song found on here manages to be engaging and entertaining while still dwelling upon some of the more obvious cliches that go with a parody. Perhaps the most blatant example of this is the album's opener "I Ejaculate Fire", which cycles through some Mid-Eastern musical elements befitting the Egyptian character of the music video, and is littered with wah pedal guitar leads in a manner heavily reminiscent of Kirk Hammett, to the point of listening like the bastard son of "Wherever I May Roam" and any number of recent Amon Amarth songs with an emphasis on hooks and fast-paced thrashing. In contrast, the rather spacey sounding "The Galaxy" has traced of the early 90s death metal romance with atmospheric keyboards spliced together with a heap of guitar harmonies that sound about as massive as the endless cosmos that album title suggests. Not one to fully distance itself from the extreme character of its death metal influences, a few more chaotic nods to the pre-melodic days of the style manifest in "Killstardo Abominate" and "Andromeda", each standing as fairly decent nods to the glory days of early 90s Cannibal Corpse with a tad bit more melodic contour.
One might be tempted to muse that Brendon Small has been learning as he goes, given the massive leap in quality of sound that took place between the first Dethklok album and where things have ended up here. He's definitely done a far better job of exploiting Gene Hoglan's talents as a drum kit destroyer, not to mention expanded his own horizons as a guitarist while still maintaining a respectable, albeit one-dimensional vocal persona. This actually manages to accomplish something which was lacking to varying extents on this project's last two studio albums, namely an album that can not only stand on its own independent of the parody cartoon show where these songs first appeared, but also as a coherent succession of chapters in a story. In a sense, Dethalbum III foreshadows where this project would go next with the rightfully lauded, albeit even more comical final outing of this band The Doomstar Requiem - A Klok Opera. Perhaps it is a paradox to take a joke album seriously, but it is impossible not to do so when faced with the contents contained here.
Metalocalypse made its first debut back in 2007 with its first season featuring a knit-witted group of metalheads who dropped out of school to create a band that would go on to become the sixth richest superpower in the world with fans loyal enough to sign their lives away as the show goes. Shortly following the season, Brendon Small released an album known as "Metalocalypse: The Dethalbum". Its name implies that it was originally meant to be soundtrack from the show, but popularity of the show urged Brendon to take it to a whole new level, which is noticeable in the fantastic Dethalbum II. Fans of the show and the music of course will no doubt be quite happy with the newest album, but not "blown away".
The Dethalbum III is a great album for many reasons. It has the sound of the Dethalbum II with a touch of Dethalbum I in it. The first thing to note off the bat is the speed and aggression in the music. The guitar work of Brendon Small in the Dethalbum II was incredibly skillful, but at the cost of the melodic sound that the Dethalbum I had. The Dethalbum III changes this for the better. Many of the songs, such as "Andromeda" or "Killstardo Abominate" have the same fast speed of the previous album, but with a noticeable melodic sound to it.
Many of the fans were worried that the newest album would lose that iconic Dethklok sound in it. Those worries are put to rest here. Songs like "Skyhunter" or "Impeach God" have the great and slow, yet melodic sound that the first album had. A song of interest is "The Galaxy", which takes that iconic sound to a whole new level.
The rhythm guitar takes on a much stronger role while the lead guitar doesn't wait around for his solo to come. Both guitars are strong and present in the album, playing vital roles to that iconic Dethklok sound that everyone knows. The lead guitar has its subtle solo moments all throughout the song before and after his "brutal solo" that adds to the general atmosphere of the song instead of stealing the show away, which is much appreciated because it adds a new layer to the music that makes for a very skilled and well thought out album. Nothing bugs me more than a rhythm guitar doing all the work while the lead guitarist twiddles his thumbs waiting for his solo. A good example of the lead guitarist playing fantastically alongside the rhythm guitarist is the song "Ghostqueen".
The drums in the album are, as anyone would expect from Gene Hoglan, spectacular. They aren't as aggressive as the second album, but are fast-paced and obviously very skilled. I remember a buddy of mine listening to the album for the first time and dismissing it, saying "I don't listen to bands who use drum machines instead of real people". Fret not, that is a real person playing those kicks at a speed of Thunderhorse's hooves.
The vocals pick the favor of the second album, having that higher-pitched tone to it instead of the deeper growls of the first album. For those of you who enjoyed the new sound, you'll love the newest album. For those of you who disliked it, fear not, the second album featured a lot less vibrations in the growls, but this album features a lot more of them in the vocals as well as the high-pitched sound. It is definitely worth a shot, and unless you absolutely HATED the second album's vocals, isn't a big bother.
Overall, it is a well-composed album. It was a bit rushed due to the publishers and record label nearly shutting down the project, but Brendon Small is a genius and manages to make it fantastic. If it weren't slightly rushed, I have no doubts it would have blown me away in every aspect, which the soundtrack of The Doomstar Requium, while not totally metal, did (Some Time Ago/The Duel featured some of the most breathtaking solos I have ever heard before).
Rating: 8.5/10 Kloks
Worthiest Songs: Crush the Industry, The Galaxy, Ghostqueen, Impeach God, Skyhunter
To be honest, the actual music from Metalocalypse was always my least favorite part of the program. I found the songs to be a clueless mess of metal stereotypes: simplistic breakdowns, boorish riffs, death growls, and flashy lead guitars. Still, I found the evolution of the Dethklok project to be interesting – especially in light of their touring with metal giants like Mastodon – and I was curious to see what Brendon Small and the gang had been up to lately.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the answer to that question was: writing much better songs. The songs on this album are powerful, cohesive assaults of melodic death metal that will make you question whether they were really written by the same people behind goofy parody songs like “Face Fisted.” Brendon riffs like he’s never riffed before on this album, drawing heavily from later At The Gates, although there are ideas lifted from a wide range of styles. There’s even a riff in Rejoin that could be on a NWOBHM album if it were in standard tuning. There are also plenty of solos, although they vary in quality, and his infectious guitar leads will be stuck in your head for days. Drum legend Gene Hoglan lays into some serious back-beats, blast-beats, and double-kick, all while very tastefully accenting the rhythms that Brendon is playing. Most of the songs on this album charge forth with an exhilarating synergy of primal fury and mathematical efficiency that will have you both banging your head and considering a degree in music composition.
These musical changes coincide with a dramatic lyrical change, as well, because while songs like "The Hammer" and "Biological Warfare" carry a certain tongue-in-cheek wit, most of the lyrics are indistinguishable from your standard extreme metal fare. This is something that might alienate longtime Dethklok fans, especially those who were more interested in the comedy then the music. Brendon also utilizes a slightly different growl on this album that I’m not entirely sold on.
Since we’re on the subject of flaws: there are vamps that go on for too long (as in "Crush the Industry"), endings that wear out their welcome (as in "The Hammer"), and guitar solos that don’t really deliver (as with the ham-fisted Fredrik Thordendal tribute in "Starved"). Then there’s the metalcore dud "Ghostqueen" which should have been cut entirely. Speaking of metalcore, there is still a love of breakdowns on this album, but thankfully they are both less annoying and less numerous.
Dethalbum III maintains a strong feeling of heroism and triumph, exemplified by songs like "Impeach God", which is quite literally about charging into battle; "Rejoin", which closes with a positively glorious symphony of guitars; and "Skyhunter", during which Brendon bellows “You’ll never take me down/I’m alive!” This attitude is appropriate as this album is absolutely a victory for Brendon and Gene. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can’t wait to hear what Dethklok releases next!
For being a band that emerged from a cartoon series, Dethklok has really made an impact on the metal world with its highly enjoyable death metal music. The fourth season of the series, Metalocalypse, has finished and now has the band presented their third offering with the not so imaginative title "Dethalbum III". This album contains songs from the last three seasons of the show (season 2-4) so you who follows Metalocalypse will probably recognize most of these songs. But I have not even watched the show (shame on me) so these 12 tracks will be a new experience for me.
Just like in the previous records, Dethklok brings forth an onslaught of brutal but still melodic death metal. You can clearly hear the aggresive drums (not as aggresive as last album though) and the screams from Brendon Small (named Nathan Explosion in the show) are jsut great. It is practically the same band as always but the songs are not as uneven as the ones in the previous albums was. The difference between high and low has been significally shortened. You can definetely tell that the band has become more tight in their playing.
But just because the band has become better it does not mean that this album is perfect. I feel that the production of the album could have been a little better and the band has yet to bake in more variation in their music. What I missed was a song that takes you up and slaps you into the next millenium (like "Laser Canon Deth Sentence"). Other than that, the songs hold a high standard. The music is interesting and grappiling. Especially the songs "The Galaxy" and "Impeach God", two songs that both have great guitar work and sticks out from the rest of the tracks.
I promise to you all, I will some day watch every episode of Metalocalypse and follow the bands ride towards glory (or whatever the story of the show is). If the show is as good as the music then I am already sold. Dethklok show a good temper and aggresion that most of the bands are missing. Just keep on working and you will become better for each album you make.
Songs worthy of recognition: Impeach God, The Galaxy, I Ejaculate Fire
Rating: 8/10 Skyhunters
This album was definitely a surprise for sure. It isn't that I thought that it would suck, because I will admit, I really enjoyed Dethalbum II quite a bit and I was definitely looking forward to this one. I consider it a surprise because of the content and the production. When the first album came out, I felt that it had lacked any real balls, and the music felt a bit too reserved. The production, on the other hand, I thought was pretty good and definitely displayed all the instruments equally and fairly. When Dethalbum II came out, it kicked your balls in with a steel-toed boot and then once more afterwards because the music was absolutely brutal (Laser Canon Deth Sentence, for example). The production, on the other hand, suffered. I felt that the vocals were buried underneath everything else and that the drums sounded a bit too... clicky. Finally, when this album came out, and I heard the first song, I felt that it had finally achieved both a great production and amazing content.
First of all, the music is definitely a welcomed change. It is still Dethklok, but the riffing and the way the guitars are arranged sound a bit different this time around. A lot of the songs actually remind me of European melodic death metal quite a bit. Songs like Skyhunter or Crush the Industry have a strong sense of melody not unlike say, Dark Tranquillity or Insomnium. Biological Warfare sort of reminds me of something The Black Dahlia Murder would write. Impeach God actually sounds like it could have been on Slaughter of the Soul (maybe). Killstardo Abominate I can't even put my finger on what band this reminds me of. This may seem a bit strange but they pull it off pretty well I think. The good production helps display the guitar arrangements even more as I feel that this is the best sound they've achieved production-wise. I hardly think that this was rushed and it feels well-prepared for sure. If they keep in this direction than I can only imagine how good Dethalbum IV will be (assuming that they ever get that far).
The vocals still sound exactly the same as they did before, but the vocal arrangements accent Brendon Small/Nathan Explosion's voice. The vocals aren't buried under everything else like they were on Dethalbum II, but sit right there in the middle of the mix so it doesn't overpower everything else, either. As usual, Brendon sounds pissed off and bloodthirsty, so his vocal performance is anything but boring or reserved. Like the previous two albums, he spews forth hate and vitriol with the lyrics.
The drumming isn't as fast or blasting as the previous album, but it is still well done. I don't think that any other method would have worked to be honest. It is mostly pretty slow and mellow, but had it been as blast heavy then I think it would've overpowered everything else and brought more attention to the drums rather than the actual riffs. I would definitely recommend this album as opposed to the other two for sure. The songwriting is better, the production is better, everything is a bit better to be honest. If you're looking for music that is pounding and brutal, then yes, you should probably look into Dethalbum II. If you're looking for superior songwriting and great melodies that stick in your mind, then check this album out.
Surely by now everyone in the death metal circuit knows (and many loathe) Dethklok. With the biggest first week sales death metal has ever seen, Dethalbum II drastically improved song-writing and range instead of the standard sludgy death metal songs such as Briefcase Full of Guts. Dethalbum III expands on the writing and melodic aspects at the slight expense of brutality. But hey, this is Dethklok, the fairytale of death metal. If you want all-out brutality then listen to Defeated Sanity or any number of slam bands. The main attraction of this album, and Dethklok in general for me is the songs are extremely memorable. Take for instance "Ghostqueen" which starts out with a bass lead over the guitars. How often do you hear that? Not a bass solo, but the riff itself is all bass. The songs have quite a bit of pop sensibility, but it adds to the memorability. Song to song, there is a lot of variety that helps break up the ideas, such as the warmth of a vinyl starting at the beginning of "I Ejaculate Fire". Some parts remind me of the first time I heard Cattle Decapitation's "The Harvest Floor" and how I felt so blown away by the originality in a largely recycled genre.
The guitars....are standard Dethklok affair, featuring melody and some thrashier moments throughout. Brendon is known for his solos and more classical-influenced riffing and this album is no different. "I Ejaculate Fire" and "The Galaxy" are pretty straightforward Dethklok riffs, whereas the main riff of 'Starved' is slightly reminiscent of Immolation. As I said before, the key here is memorability, and all these riffs are instantly recognizable as well as heavy. As far as bass, it isn't too audible throughout most of the album, but as stated above, "Ghostqueen" rules with that jazzy bass riff. The drums are performed by the mighty Gene Hoglan, so that alone is worth the price of the CD. Dethklok is very much a riff-based band, but his drumming always peers through and takes the spotlight. Spin the album and really LISTEN to those drums....this man is amazing. Never too fast or overly technical, Gene delivers with his creativity and precision. The production is clear as well, although not quite as thick as Dethalbum.
So, in keeping this review short and sweet, this album is different enough from the first two to warrant new fans, as well as keeping old ones happy. My main complaint would be the vocals, which go back and forth from higher rasps to low growls, but they can be at times a bit strained sounding. As compared to DA II, this is a bit of a downgrade. They don't have quite the same force behind them. Despite this, I can still give this album a cool 91% for just how damn fun it is. This isn't Deathspell Omega here, it's rather easy to digest without too much thought and the replay value is astounding. After years of being a DsO and Ulcerate megafan, this is a fresh slab of party music, best enjoyed with friends and perhaps a bit of alcohol.
Crush the Industry