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What is Dethklok? Can they be considered a real band? Sure, Brendan Small got together with Gene Hoglan and Bryan Beller to make this album, but in a way, aren't they just actors playing roles that happen to be melodeath's answer to The Monkees? It's a hard question to answer. But in my view, the answer is this: who the fuck cares?
I'll be blunt. If you're thinking this hard about Dethklok, and whether their music counts as "real metal" or whether they even exist as a band, you're missing the point. The album based on a late-night animated TV show really doesn't require all that much thought. And so, when reviewers lambaste the album for being lyrically silly and musically derivative, they're failing to recognize that even the album's creator didn't think that hard about it.
The Dethalbum should be taken at face value. And at face value, it's a collection of melodic death metal songs on topics ranging from Vikings to murder to electrocuting someone via a pool of blood - which, I might add, is pretty fucking metal. No, the lyrics aren't that great. And no, a lot of the chugging riffs can't compete with much of the death metal being released today (read: music by seasoned professionals, who aren't releasing their first album as a soundtrack to a comedy show). But that doesn't mean you can't bang your head and growl along. And it doesn't hurt that beyond the boring drop C chugging and comedic lyrics there are often some inventive riffs, and frequently some impressive leads.
However, within this lies much of the criticism for the record. So many people in the metal scene, particularly in extreme metal, get so self-serious about the genre that they can't appreciate a parody for what it is. Hell, there's an element of satire in even completely straight-faced death metal - when Cannibal Corpse wrote "Raped By the Beast" or "Dismembered and Molested", I don't think they were particularly concerned with sounding solemn or serious. So when an album that is overtly satirical comes out, how harshly can its lack of sincerity really be criticized?
Now, in the interest of objectivity, The Dethalbum is far from perfect even by parody standards. After a while, the chugging riffs can get annoying - there's a reason I listen to death metal and not deathcore. The lyrics, too, fall victim to the curse of trying too hard. Though "Birthday Dethday" has some genuinely amusing lyrics like "Doctor gives a new prescription: bullet in a fucking gun", other lines like "RSVP please for the deth of thee" force lines into ill-fitting syllabic structures for the sake of stretched rhymes.
Yet even this can be excused as a somewhat accurate pastiche of death metal lyricism. It's no secret that death metal writers often come up with lines that sound more like thesaurus-scouring rhyme hunts than lines of actual substance. Consider the following, from Deicide's "Carnage in the Temple of the Damned": "When we meet again / it will be the promised land / Death is in command / to the victims of the plan". You can almost hear Glen Benton wracking his brain for rhyming words before coming up with that 10th-grade attempt at 'evil' lyrics.
The one inexcusable fault of the album is Small's vocals. It's immediately evident that he's whispering his growled vocals, which - even on a parody record - is a cardinal sin. This, unsurprisingly, detracts from the quality of the music. Small's limp delivery kills the intensity behind some of the best lyrics on the disc (and there are some lyrics that are unironically good - see the chorus of "Go Forth And Die"). And even in epic, driving songs like "Go Into the Water", it's hard to ignore the breathy quality of the vocals.
But you can't really fault Brendan Small for his lack of experience - after all, this is a parody album made for a comedy show. Nothing more, nothing less. And it is my assertion that just about any death metal fan can find some enjoyment in the album, provided they can put aside their elitism and take a joke. But hey, if you give it a shot and you really don't like Dethklok, just take a quick listen to "Fansong". They hate you too.
I have to admit, I'm biased about this because I love the show. It's probably my favorite show on television and I own every season. I think it's absolutely hilarious and it simultaneously stands as both a monument and a parody to metal. It's over-the-top and very dark, yet somehow lighthearted because of how ignorant the fictional band members are.
As for the soundtrack, it's not very good, unfortunately. When I watch the show, my foot is tapping along and my head is slightly banging, but that's because it's good on the show and nothing else. The animation is awesome and there are virtually no limitations to the havoc or horror that happens to the audience while they play. I have learned to love the characters and any generic melo-death they play will be loved by me as well. It's kind of like a moderately attractive girl: once you get to know her personality, she becomes much more beautiful to you, but without it there isn't anything all that impressive about her.
Brendon Small does all the vocals, guitar, and bass. He can play guitar and bass, but his vocals are not very good. The vocals are what some people refer to as "whisper vocals." His voice acting for the character of Nathan Explosion is great, but he should have hired someone else to do the death metal vocals. The person who contributed drums for this album was Gene Hoglan, best known for being in bands like Death and Strapping Young Lad. The drums are probably the best part about the music.
Most of the songs are very boring without the show to accompany it. I hate to say it, but without the drop-tuning, tremolo picking, growled vocals, or double-kicks, it could pass for a hard rock album. Most of the tracks have very simple intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, etc. format that isn't common in metal.
There are a few moments, though. Awaken is not a bad song; it's got a very broad, epic sound to it with frequent mini-solos. Go Into the Water is another song with slow-paced, epic sound and dissonant chords. Birthday Dethday is fast-paced and somewhat catchy. I probably won't have these stuck in my head for hours and won't listen to them unless they come up on shuffle but, that being said, there are a few guilty pleasures on this album.
The best song off the album is Thunderhorse, which I know everybody has heard because it was on Guitar Hero which was a fad for a long time. The song is pretty much an instrumental if you don't count the words "Thunderhorse" and "ride" being repeated in the song. This is a good song on its own because it has a lot of catchy riffs that flow very well into each other and it has two very codependent guitar parts.
Brendon Small is a good guitar player and he displays this on several occasions, but he isn't much of a songwriter. It's not bad, though. It's listenable, but it's not to be taken seriously as an example of metal. The songs are very short for a reason; they were meant to be played in brief clips to go along with the animation.
Metalocalypse is very controversial in the metal community. Some metalheads see it as an entertaining parody and homage to extreme metal history, while others see it as an overly-hyped money-grab by Cartoon Network executives trying to make a buck out of an underground subculture. I have personally always thought that the TV show was too stupid to be bothered with either way, and when I heard that Dethklok would be releasing actual metal albums, I assumed they'd be the same thing. Luckily, I was wrong.
This album isn't a death metal album despite the television show's statements to the contrary. It's actually Amon Amarth-esque melodeath with a few symphonic influences, except that it's not nearly as good as Amon Amarth or any other traditional melodic death metal act. The guitars, vocals, and lyrics are have a sarcastic quality to them, creating an obnoxious, irreverent metal-mocking atmosphere that sounds a lot better when you're stoned.
Despite the fact that this is a parody band, there are moments when the band breaks that mold and, surprisingly enough, makes some pretty good metal. Songs such as "Murmaider" and "Awaken" are so catchy and powerful that you'll have a hard time not banging your head, though the sarcastic nature of the lyrics will keep you from enjoying yourself completely.
On the other hand, much of the album sounds and feels the same, which kills it more than anything. Some melodeath bands can get away with this without becoming boring (Amon Amarth has done the same goddamn thing for almost ten albums now), but Dethklok's music is more of a shadowy parody of melodeath, and the novelty of their humor dies after a few songs.
All in all, this album is exactly what it's supposed to be. It aspires to be a cartoonish, dark-humored parody of melodic death metal, and it succeeds wildly, at times even exceeding those aspirations. It might have made more sense to have just released a Dethklok EP instead of a full-length with so many similar songs, but it's still worth a spin or two. Anyone expecting a serious death metal album out of this is going to be very disappointed, but if you're looking for a fun, catchy, slightly stupid album that goes well with marijuana, The Dethalbum should be about right.
Metal parody is something that I can go either way on. Sometimes mocking a great art form can split one’s sides with humor, and at others it can encourage either a bored sigh or a fit of stereo/television reconfiguration with a baseball bat. “Metalocalypse” seems to be one or the other, depending on who you talk to, but as I haven’t been possessed with an overwhelming desire to watch the show, the only remaining course to judge the music on its merits. To put it candidly, if Dethklok were not a fictitious parody band, they’d probably make it as a 3rd tier melodeath band, putting forth cliché themes and groovy, repetitive riffs that may please the ears for a while, but do little to rouse an enthusiastic horns in the air.
Though I’ve had a little more experience with their 2nd album, “The Dethalbum” was my first experience with this project. While said follow up did garner a moderate amount of enjoyment, this album has seen a fair amount of shelf time due to just being outright bland and uninspired. If nothing else, the ad nauseam repetition and oversimplified musical ideas reveal an album that listens like the soundtrack of a TV show, and suffers heavily for not having the visual aids to cover up for the lack of interesting content. Most of the songs are definitely trying to be catchy and feature melodic lines that are very easy to follow. But like with any rudimentary set of ideas that lacks development, it wears thin really quickly and becomes annoying to anyone who has experienced the real version of this style out of bands like Kalmah or At The Gates.
About 60% of these songs are completely forgettable, save an occasionally well placed lead guitar slot that rescues the dry but still somewhat salvageable ideas from resting in quasi-Metalcore territory. But in a few cases, this does maintain a consistent, albeit heavily predictable adherence to Gothenburg principles. The best and brightest example is “Dethharmonic”, which does a solid job at recreating the woefully cold atmosphere associated with Scandinavian terrain, and is boosted by a well realized keyboard presence that loosely mimics a symphonic orchestral performance. Others like “Awaken”, “Thunderhorse” and “Hatredcopter” do a fairly decent job of melding the largely unadventurous melodic material with a more thrash-like character, aided heavily by Gene Hoglan’s uncanny ability to make even the simplest drum line sound exciting.
Sadly, “The Dethalbum” ultimately proves to be a victim of its own lack of seriousness and gets itself caught in one musical quagmire after another. Sometimes there is just nothing but ill-conceived ideas that never lead to better ones like in the cases of “Murmaider” and “Fansong”, although the overt silliness of the lyrics on these two particular songs are enough to draw one’s attention away from the bland groove riffs and drab straight beats. For most of the rest of the time, there is one or two promising parts of the song that are either underemphasized or don’t lead anywhere, while the rest of the song is comprised of completely forgettable fluff. It can maybe garner some respect for the sheer fact that it is a metal album that has achieved a wide audience and inspired people to learn more than a few chords on the guitar and bang their heads rather than simply staring at their shoes. But as far as its musical merits beyond its novelty and gimmicks, they are few and far between.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on May 13, 2010.
Metalocalypse...o, how thy name hast graced many a lip from those claiming to be "metal-heads". How thy guest-stars and name-dropping of underground metal acts hast catapulted such winsome Flash Animation as thine to mad obsession amongst the throngs of metal folk this side of the term "mallcore". But dost thou TRULY have the heart to be worthy of such love?
*clears throat* Sorry about that. Let's begin, class.
I'll admit the first mention of the name "Metalocalypse" piqued my attention for a minute or two, but as time progressed, it was sought after by the metal fans I personally know so much that, despite not even SEEING the show, I got very sick of it. For at least two months straight it was ALL EVERYONE COULD FUCKING TALK ABOUT. However, I did eventually see the show and found it entertaining and humourous, not the end-all-be-all of "metal" programming. I guess most of the humour lies in the fact that it's an homage to underground metal and also makes fun of its fans (which, if you ask me, many deserve). So here we have the eventual album, the collection of original songs written and played by DETHKLOK in the show (differently than as they were presented within the show).
One thing I found funny about DETHKLOK and "Metalocalypse" is that they're considered the "most brutal band in the world", and their music is anything BUT brutal. Sure, it has moments of extremity (basically any riff that has blast-beats), but as a whole the music is pretty much middle-of-the-road, two-dimensional melodic death metal (maybe it was intentional). However, when Mr. Small and the Atomic Clock are on, they're ON, and the album has a good number of memorable songs that stick to you like wet ABC gum ("Murmaider", "Awaken", and "Thunderhorse" being three of the better tracks). Simply put, there's a good chance you might like the album even if you hate the show...but that's definately up for debate.
So, in the end, "The Dethalbum" is a pretty decent fare that's worth a passing glance or two. Just don't expect a lot of depth or epic song-writing...that's not brutal.
Ok, I am reviewing the LP that came along with the 6-track bonus CD, not that it turned out to be a “bonus” but anyway I’ll come to that later. I got hold of this release when I was on a melodic death trip and liked more or less any melodic death album I was trying out, but this was an album which literally put me out of this genre once and for all.
Oh God where to start here? Ok, imagine putting in a melodic death CD in your CD player, an album that has a brutal name (The Dethalbum) and the first words you here are, “So you folks would like some coffee” in possibly the worst death metal vocals in the history of death metal. I mean there was a reason this was made for a cartoon in the first place. Parody, bad joke, whatever, tracks like these should remain in the cartoon series itself because at least they make sense there. This for me is the first drawback of this release. If you haven’t seen the series you will not understand a single track of this release, as was the case with me. After somehow managing to hear the entire CD I downloaded the first season I could at least make sense of weird lyrics and equally weird song titles (Bloodtrocuted, Murmaider, Go Into The Water) but that still doesn’t justify the horrible music.
Brendon Small I see played all the instruments here except the drums as well as managed the vocals of the band. He does not know how to growl, all he does through out the entire LP is sing in a very harsh voice which he uses as a sorry excuse for death metal vocals. He sounds extremely one dimensional and monotonous during this entire LP, but then again so does the entire album. I’ll say the same thing for his bass playing; most of his bass lines sound the same through out this entire album. Similar guitar playing, bass and vocals account for the predictability of this release. You hear a few tracks and you’ll be able to guess what’s coming next.
The final and most annoying drawback to this release is the fact that the legendary Gene Hoglan is the one on the drums here. Now why would he want to be remotely connected to this abomination of an album, let alone play the drums? It’s bad choices like these that make ardent fans of the drummer like me forget what he’s done in the iconic life of his. It’s not that he’s played the drums badly, he’s done a decent job, but it’s merely a shade of what he really is capable of.
After all this it’s hard to find something good off of this release but there actually is! The production is very good. Brendon Small as I said cannot play the bass and cannot growl to save himself but he sometimes plays these small fast solos in some tracks and that in my opinion is what actually is the only thing worth hearing in this album.
Those guitar solos, which I mentioned in my last paragraph, are the few good moments on the entire album. A few moments do not account for a good track alone, let go an entire release. This album should never have been released in the first place; it should have merely stayed a part of the animated series for which it was made. This album will make no sense if you have not seen the series, but then again if you have even then it’s not worth hearing once again. If you are reading this review and have not seen the series, have not heard the album and love either melodic death as a genre or Gene Hoglan as a drummer, do not hear this release.
Despite me liking the show to the extent of buying the complete first season, I loathe this album with a passion. While it is not the worst metal album ever, it certainly tires. Damn hard too.
Let's start with the songs, the good ones. "Thunderhorse" was the first Dethklok song I heard and it is without a doubt the finest song on the album. It's a rather thrashy melodic death number with some great guitar dickery and a monstrously awesome middle part. Next one is "Hatredcopter," very nicely done, especially the drums. This is about the only song where Gene Hoglan completely fucking slays, "Hay guyz! Let's hire one of the best drummers in metal and make him play shit except for one song!! LAWL!" I'm not even kidding, I'll get to that later though, there's one more good song. No wait...there ain't!
Two out of SIXTEEN! Alright, some of them aren't horrendous but Jesus Christ! My advice, skip the first two songs and listen to "Awaken," while not ball-crushingly awesome it's a much better opener than "Murmaider" or "Go into the Water." Then skip until you reach "Thunderhorse" unless you have a fetish for half-assed riffs, plodding melodeath or whispered growls. Then skip to "Hatredcopter" and then you're done. Seriously. Don't even bother trying to listen to them.
So what makes them unbearably shitty? First and foremost is the growl. Brendan Small cannot growl to save his life. Half the time he growls it's whispered. Why does he insist on doing the vocals? Better yet, why play death metal at all when he can't make DM riffs or growls? That's my second point, the riffs. There ain't single death in any of the riffs. Nothing which reminds of such glories as "What Kind of God?" or "Symbolic." The riffs sound like poorly done thrash riffs at times and simply bad metal riffs other times. The solos, while nothing truly jaw-dropping, are rather good. I'll give Brendan the credit of being a good lead guitarist. Third on my list is the drumming. I would to express a big FUCK YOU! towards Brendan and pals for squandering Gene FUCKIN' Hoglan. You get the best drummer in metal and make him play THIS!? And not even a SINGLE blastbeat in what is supposed to a death metal album. Lastly, the songs themselves feel to be dragged on. I could stand the little snippets when I watch the show, but they certainly are not quality songs.
Having said that, Brendan certainly knows how to cater to fans. The deluxe package adds another disc with even more Metalocalypse geekiness. The "Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle" is on there so that disc isn't a complete failure.
If you must listen to this album I recommend that you download it (like I did) and not waste cold hard cash on it. Better yet, download the worthwhile songs and go back to watching the show. In the end, I'd much rather listen to a Dr. Rockzo record than this mess.
First off, I am very biased towards this. I am a huge fan of the show and think everything they do, say, or think is hilarious. Despite this, I look to this album thinking strictly about the music not how much them chanting "Hatredcopter" or "Bloodrocuted" may make one laugh. To my suprise, the music rocks! Why? Numerous reasons. For one, it has Gene Hoglan, something you can't joke about. Though the drums in the various tracks may not seem that death metal, lacking some things such as blast beating and such, he still performs beautifally. As for Brendon Small, the visionary genius behind both the show and album, nothing bad can be said. Although the vocals may seem repetitive to some, George "Corpsegrinder" comes to mind, especially during the vicious scream in the middle of "Hatredcopter".
As for the actual songs, there is a great abundance of them. The Dethalbum features many great metal licks such as the growling anger of "Murmaider", the dual-vocals of "Hatredcopter", my all-time favorite "Thunderhorse", and many more. Supposing you want more, the Dethalbum Deluxe features a few more fun licks such as the, well, interesting "Kill You" (as sung by Pickles), and the ever-popular, thirst-inducing Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle. Pretty much every song has some sort of awesome guitar solo, malicious vocals, and loud, interesting guitar riffs.
Of course, none of this is to say that the album is perfect. Some songs, like "Into the Water", are repetitive...in this case, very repetitive. Also, just like I said I take the songs too seriously, some really are made just to laugh at, like the band member's conversation in the middle of "Murdertrain 'a coming". Literally, they sit there talking. Definetly something you WON'T see in a Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, or Hypocrisy album.
Overall, The Dethalbum features some great musical performances, from Gene Hoglan to the magnificent guitar-driven song list. Whether you listen to rock out to, or simply just to laugh at, the Dethalbum can't dissapoint.
Let me start off this review by saying I AM slightly biased. Before even listening to it, I was sick of people saying they were metal because they watched the show and bought the Dethalbum. However, when I watched the show, I found it to be actually rather funny. Here was a band who was on top of the world, able to control masses of people, THE most popular band in existence, yet they seemed to be completely clueless, unaware of the massive power they have, and mired in psychosocial problems (for instance, Nathan is an alcoholic overeater, and Toki was abused as a child and has abandonment issues). As well, they made completely generic melodeath, yet were EXTREMELY popular, which I interpreted as a statement that the only way to get popular is to be generic and commercial. As well, they band also proved to be extremely inept, as if they just stumbled upon popularity without even trying.
So does this humour translate over to the Dethalbum? My answer is no. Brendan Small seems to want his cake and eat it, too. He wants to be taken seriously, but be a joke band as well. On one hand, we have a real drummer this time, and he's none other than the vastly talented Gene Hoglan. On the other hand, you won't be able to hear his talent because he restrains himself to playing generic, simple, beats, (this is death metal, so WHERE ARE THE FUKKEN BLASTBEATS?) so we might as well have a drum machine. On one hand, the guitar playing is pretty good, actually, and the pristine production makes the guitars heavy. On the other hand, what use is this if they riffs genuinely suck? As well, the vocals suck. There is a disconnect in my mind between Nathan's jingoistic and hubristic personality, and the vocals. They're weak, they sound like he's whispering. At least Small could've gotten someone like Glen Benton, Antti Boman, Chris Barnes, or any one of the multitudes of death metal growlers.
There is a band, however, that does manage to be a joke band that is taken seriously, and that band is Macabre. But Dethklok is no Macabre. For a joke band to work, the songs need to be funny. I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I don't watch Metalocalypse because the music is funny. It's the rest of the show that's funny. If Small had put all of his chips into being funny and a joke band, The Dethalbum would've probably gotten a 70 or so, instead of a 20. But again, it's mired down by attempts at being a real death metal band. The thing is, once Small tries to be taken seriously as a real artist, not just as a joke band, he is judged by a whole different rubric, and has to measure up to much higher standards. It's here where the Dethalbum fails. It's too lame to be taken seriously, but too serious to be a joke album.
I will come straight out and say I'm not a fan of the show, and therefore I'm not tuned in to all the inside references and jokes. Before people scream "then why should we listen to your review?" let me say that is EXACTLY why you should listen to me, because I'm approaching this album from the perspective of a casual listener rather than a Metalocalypse fanboy. For this album to succeed, it must appeal to non-fans of the show like me. If not, it has failed except as an in-joke.
What I got was fifty or so minutes of melodic, radio-friendly death metal engineered so you can technically call it death metal and yet still appeal to the Hot Topic crowd. There's a lot of fun, catchy material and the musicians have certainly got their shit together (in fact, drums are handled by none other than Gene Hoglan), but I kind of have trouble taking this seriously as a death metal album. Guys, where are the blast beats? Where are the crushing downtuned guitars? Despite it's frequent catchy moments, this band's grimness factor is damned near close to zero.
Okay, so I'm not supposed to take this seriously. It's a parody of death metal. Parody albums can be cool, right? Zimmer's Hole? Crotchduster? When you look at it from that angle, Dethalbum is actually a decent album. Most of the songs come together pretty well. The death metal scene is crowded with bands that are great at writing riffs and solos but have no idea how to chain them together into cohesive, memorable songs, but these guys don't seem to have such a problem. "Fansong" is a good melodic DM song in the vein of Amon Amarth, only with hilarious lyrics about the band's contempt for their fans. "Hatredcopter" is the heaviest song here, a monster filled with chug-chug riffs and Hoglan's double-bass wankery. It also has clean vocals in the chorus that I think work well with the song.
Sadly, while there are many standout tracks on this album, there are perhaps equally as many where the band drops the ball. The opening track, "Murmaider," is a decent Six Foot Under ripoff spoiled by an annoyingly out-of-place quasi-symphomic part at 2:30. "Go into the Water" is an awkward slow song with only one riff. "Bloodrocuted" just annoys me. At the end of the day there are about eight or nine actual songs on the album, and a bunch of goofy short ones like "Briefcase Full of Guts" that are loaded with undeveloped ideas and riffs. It sounds kinda like the album was released three weeks before the writing process had finished.
Among the musicians, Brendon Small is undoubtedly the weak link. His half whispered, half gurgled vocals are simply terrible, and the songs often fight not to be dragged down by his mediocrity. Even worse, he sings with no emotion and energy. On "Bloodrocuted" and "Thunderhorse" in particular, he sounds like he's reciting words from a teleprompter.
One thing that really annoys me about this album is the production. Everything sounds syrupy and trebly and over-processed. I'm not asking them to record the fucker on a 4-track, but a death metal CD needs to have some rough edges, and this is so over-produced it's not funny. Another bitch is the drums. THEY'RE TOO FUCKING LOUD. Maybe the creators of the show were excited to have an actual metal musician on board and decided not to waste his contributions, but either way it gets annoying as hell to hear ultra-jackhammer drums that drown out all the other instruments. Guys, you don't need to mic up your drums to 10 for your CD to sound brutal and heavy. Demolition Hammer cut perhaps the most devastating thrash record of the 90s when they released Tortured Existence, and on that album you can hardly hear the drums!
The best thing I can say about Dethalbum has nothing to do with the music. According to Wikipedia, it debuted inside the Billboard 200 with opening week sales of 33,740, the most successful death metal CD of all time. It goes to show that death metal CAN sell well, if it is promoted properly. Hopefully major labels will tip to this and start signing bands from the underground.
Dethklok, the fictional, over-the-top, and all-too Brutal animated death metal band from [adult swim]'s Metalocalypse have finally put out an album...and it kicks ass!
Okay, so being a fan of the show, I'm a little biased, but this is still a great album. There are 15 songs here, plus a hidden track (the Detheme). It starts out with Murmaider which is a surprisingly good take on what started originally as a one-word chorus played only briefly in an episode. Then comes Go Into the Water which is just fucking epic (especially if you've seen the episode with this song). Of course some favorites are here such as Awaken, Birthday Dethday, Briefcase Full of Guts, and so forth--all re-recorded and new drum tracks laid down for maximum brutality. Plus, all of the songs have been extended into 2-4 minutes in length (roughly), so they're not just 30 second jems from the show, but actual SONGS!
The guitar work is phenomenal. The solos are fast as shit and the riffing is very heavy. The bass is hard to hear, but even the cartoon characters acknowledge this fact (perhaps making fun of an often non-existent bass in MANY metal albums from various bands). The drumming is great. I'm not sure if Gene Hoglan was the one who laid down the drum tracks for the album, but he does play it live and, either way, the drumming is intense.
The vocals are decent. They could be better, but as previous reviewers have stated, whispering doesn't equal Corpsegrinder. Brendon definitely needs to work on this, but that's minor, and it's still good. The vocals are harsh and understandable (so it's not like he completely failed). And it's important to understand what he's saying when lyrics are as funny as this.
One thing I have to complain about is Thunderhorse. Maybe it's just me, but it doesn't sound like it was re-recorded at all! It sounds like they just stuck it in Pro-Tools, fixed some quality issues, and cut-and-paste riffs to make it longer. I really can't notice any sort of additions to the song (and it's about twice as long) and compared to the rest of the tracks, the quality is lacking. But hey, I've never really been a fan of the song, so it's not too disappointing. This album more than makes up for it with better songs like The Lost Vikings (which is obviously meant to be another Viking-esque song with a doomy, epicness about it) and Face Fisted, a heavy-as-FUCK song (and it's groovy!).
All in all, it's a splendid performance with tons of great new tracks and the return of many old favorites, but with complete makeovers. However, I don't see how they can really get away with selling this as both a normal and Deluxe Edition. The Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle should be a MANDATORY song, yet it's only available on the Deluxe Edition (which I have and enjoy). The effort in finding a store which has the Deluxe Edition in stock simply isn't worth 5 extra songs (one of the tracks is just a spoken intro and another is a small skit which, though funny, has no musical content whatsoever). But they are a good 5 extra songs. One of my favorite songs on the entire album is Murdertrain a Comin'. What I don't get is why those two songs, along with Hatredy and Blood Ocean are both on the BONUS disc instead of the normal disc. Those are songs from the actual show which people know and love, yet they are replaced by songs such as Murmaider and Bloodrocuted, two songs that were simply alluded to in the show, but never fully developed. And the lack of Sewn Back Together Wrong, Underwater Friends, and Crush My Battle Opponent's Balls from the bonus disc is disappointing. Those are PERFECT songs for a Bonus disc, but instead we get songs that should rightfully be on the normal version anyway.
But I digress. The Deluxe Edition is worth getting simply for the great songs (shouldn't cost much more no matter where you go), but it is dissappointing nonetheless. The normal album, however, is fucking stellar. It's not as good as it could be, but as a fan of the show, I love it and I think you will, too.
OK, so maybe it's not that black. In fact it isn't black metal at all... But it is a pretty sweet album considering it's by a band that doesn't technically exist...
Fans of the show "Metalocalypse" will know the band and will know bits of most of the songs on this album. They will also know that while the show is amazing and very very funny, Dethklok themselves aren't actually that brilliant. Musically, of course they are very talented, and will always produce some good heavy, fast music. Essentially, however, they are there for the comedy value and not to become the most skillful metal act ever (despite their status in the T.V. show.) Each track seems to be essentially the same with only a few truly standing out, which I will explain later on.
I decided to get the deluxe two disc edition, not only because it has the first episode of season two on the second disc, but also because it contains a few bonus tracks, and it is these tracks which are truly brilliant. We have the classic "Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle" which appears in the very first episode of the show, and always make me laugh. Aside from this, it is one of the most musically excellent tracks - The pounding drums, the throbbing riffs, Nathan Explosion's deep guttural growl, and of course the excellent lead breaks by the "fastest player in the world", Skwisgar Skwigelf. All this is evident throughout the album, but after a while it tends to drag. You see, while on the show, in small doses the band seems to be very good and have some excellent tracks (for example "Awaken Mustakrakish" etc.) but on the show you only see about half a minute of each track, if that. When you make them into 4 minute long tracks, and have 16 of them on a CD plus a bonus disc, it does tend to drag.
The tracks that do stick out are the ones that maintain the creator Brendon Small's original intent - to create a comedy/parody death metal band. With this album, he has done that to a certain extent but I feel that he has tried too hard to make them a serious and real band.
Watch the show, definitely. Appreciate the music and the comedy, but as for the album, I'm sure only hardcore fans will truly appreciate it to it's fullest. I do love Dethklok. They have brought many hours of merriment to me, but that is the main reason I like them: The comedy rather than the music.
This is a review of the music, not the (awesome) show or the merits of the virtual band.
If you bred Amon Amarth to Cannibal Corpse and fed the offspring on a sound more melodic than eaither, this would be the result. Dethalbum's lyrics are comedic to be sure but not that much more than Cannibal Corpse's Corpsegrinder era. The melodies are often like Amon Amarth's "Versus the World" in style and effective exiting catchiness. The sound is a caricature of melodic death metal and as a result, often surpasses the typical genre trappings and commonalities.
"Murmaider" and "Go Into the Water" open the album with an innordinate water obsession and a tone that feels more akin to Dimmu Borgir's late work than what one would expect from such a 'Deth' obsessed origin. As the album progresses the influence of everything from Metallica to Carpathian Forest creeps in resulting in great variety. There are anthems, there are wild speed bursts, there are tracks purely devoted to comedy and should you find the Deluxe Edition, there's even a Guns N Roses song. In all this variety there are few songs that feel dull or out of place, and there are peaks that surpass the music that it spoofs: "Go Into the Water", "Bloodtrocuted" and especially "Thunderhorse" are great songs on any record from any band. More importantly every song delivers to it's listeners the conventions and perks that the metal world so values, namely double bass. This is a true celebration of the elements that form our common genre, and a selection that flows song to song like a train of thought, "Wasnt this great in Puritanical Misanthropic Euphoria?", "Why did Metallica hire an Orchestra?", "You know that one part of Hatebreeder?" The music references and tips its hat again and again, and offers all that its referenced works offered originally anew.
This album is fun for all who want to have fun in the metal world. It is perhaps not the most brutal album or the best written, It is not a magnum opus from a recognized master, but it is a work of great merit and great popular sentiment. To be sure those are not what makes great metal, but this is not great metal, it is metal that's great fun to hear. Buy it then you may die.
I find this album to be one of my favorites. The band, or the two guys who play instruments that the cartoons take credit for I should say, has managed to combine elements of melodic death metal, some old school death metal, and hints of black metal. It is funny how a “joke band” has produced better music than some of the so-called “serious” bands.
The main highlight of this album, in my opinion, is the lead and rhythm guitars. The rhythm guitar riffs are very simplistic in such songs like “Go Into the Water”, “Murmaider”, and “Dethharmonic”. During these songs, however, the lead guitar plays its vital role in providing the perfect level of harmony to the music. The guitar solos are simply amazing. In the cartoon, they say that their lead guitarist is the fastest guitarist in the world. I would not say that these are the fastest solos I’ve heard, but they work very well with the rest of the music.
The bass is hard to hear in most of the songs. Once again, in the cartoon, they say that they usually mix the bass out. However, the bass can be heard very well in the song Thunderhorse. The bass lines are nothing like Alex Webster, but they add a certain flavor to the song. The drums are another highlight. The double-bass kicks are present, but not constant. They hold on to the rhythm, and they do not overpower as most drums do in ninety percent of most metal.
The vocals are something interesting. On the surface, it sounds like your normal death metal vocals. However, they are not so deep and rough that you cannot understand the lyrics, which are one of the defining aspects of Dethklok. In most of the songs, they seem to be used very little, but this is only to allow for the guitars and drums to show their musicianship.
I recommend this album. I think anyone who can get over the concept of Dethklok being a “joke band” then they will enjoy this.
Firstly, it’s not essential to have seen Metalocalypse to enjoy this album but it helps a lot.
Do not take this album seriously. For two reasons: 1. It’s a joke; 2. A lot of quality metal is hysterical anyway (be it through spandex, turning it up to e1eleven, one second songs, playing six thousand notes at once or whatever). If it wasn’t done so blatantly in jest then the lyrics about being killed by mermaids, metal snakes, demonic horses and Vikings would barely stand out as strange lyrical subject manner. The vocals aren’t great, but they’re not meant to be. They are exactly how Nathan Explosion would have delivered them.
But looking beyond the lyrics and vocals; the drums are outstanding, as one would expect. Apart from this the guitar work is at times exceptional such as the soloing in Murdertrain A Comin’ (accentuated by Skwisgar’s side-splitting cries of “oh yeah! You knows it!”), “Better Metal Snake”, which totally shreds, the heavy parts of both “Go Into The Water” and “Go Forth And Die”, which most bands would kill to have written and the melodic chorus of “Murmaider”, The Dethalbum’s most exceptional track.
“Murmaider” alone showcases Brendon Small’s ample song writing talent, which apart from a few hiccups along the way (“Fan Song”, which is bland and forgettable and the oh so promisingly titled “Briefcase Full Of Guts”) stays solid throughout the album’s great length. Although it does tend to waver towards the end.
The Dethalbum is overly long but remains entertaining and I strongly recommend getting the special edition with the bonus disc, without which you miss out on the hilarious “Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle”, the fantastic “Blood Ocean”, the aforementioned “Murdertrain A Comin’” and the very funny “Kill You”; a metal song for the ladies.
My only real complaint is the lack of “Sewn Back Together Wrong”
Most people not familiar with Adult Swim's hilarious show "Metalocalypse" or the band that stars in the show, Dethklok, will probably write this album off as a gimmick. After all, Dethklok IS a cartoon band, so they can't play any good, REAL tunes...right?
Wrong. The Dethalbum, Dethklok's first "real-world" release, is a surprisingly engaging and entertaining serving of Gothenburg-style melodic death metal, featuring several reworked versions of songs played on the show ("Murmaider," "Thunderhorse," et al), as well as several new compositions by mastermind Brendon Small. To add street cred, Small even got drum virtuoso Gene Hoglan behind the kit for the recording process.
The riffs--ostensibly played by the world's fastest guitarists, Skwisgaar Skwigelf and Toki Wartooth, but in reality written and recorded by Small--are melodic enough to be palatable to someone who is not overly familiar with the Gothenburg scene, but savage enough to satisfy even the most jaded Arch Enemy and Dark Tranquillity fans. The stick-and-pedal work of Pickles the Drummer is fast and heavy--come on, would you expect anything else from a Gene Hoglan recording? Even William Murderface's bass and Nathan Explosion's vocals (again, both recorded by Small) help add to the atmosphere that this is the best Swedish band you've never heard. Granted, the vocals are highly processed--it often sounds as if Small is whispering into the mic (see the otherwise fantastic "Fansong")--but then, so is the rest of the album. This IS a cartoon band we're talking about here.
So if you're a fan of Metalocalypse, a melo-death fan in need of a new fix, or someone who is looking for an easy entry into the world of metal, I highly suggest you pick up this album. It's catchy, it's fun, and most importantly, it's pretty damn good.
So, just as the second season of the most brutal show on earth, Metalocalypse starts, I receive a copy of the legendary Dethklok’s new recording, The Dethalbum. The regular edition comes with one disc, but I received the deluxe edition, which has a second disc with seven extra tracks, a music video and the first episode of the second season. As anyone who’s seen the show on Cartoon Network’s ‘[adult swim]’ will know, Dethklok are the most brutal band on the planet, and their music makes people die.
I was surprised by the real quality of some of the songs in full, and while the small sections of some of the songs you hear in the series aren’t exactly bad, the fact that Brendon Small had the willingness to make them all into coherent (not to mention awesome) songs is very impressive. The god-like Gene Hoglan (uh... I mean Pickles) took drum duties for this album and, as is expected from him, he impressed me massively. There are some fantastic little fills, technical drumming and some beats that really require an experienced drummer to pull off with flair. Unlike a lot of Hoglan performances however, there’s no mucking around, but I’m glad because there are times where I’ve heard him ruin a section of a song simply to be slightly more technical than he really needs to be. Aside from the drums, everything was performed by Brendon Small (Uh…I mean Nathan Explosion, Toki Wartooth, William Murderface and Skwisgaar Skwigelf), and the guitar work in particular is very impressive.
Contrary to Dethklok’s revered catchphrase (“Brutal”), the music isn’t really that brutal, and is far more in the style of melodic death than plain old DM, laden with gorgeous little leads and some impressive solos by the two fastest guitarists alive. Their tone is near-perfect (though I suppose funding from Cartoon Network helps), this shows their endorsement of companies like Gibson, Krank and Line 6 clearly isn’t just a corporate marketing scheme. There’s some genius riffs on the Dethalbum (‘Bloodtrocuted’) and solos that truly do rip face. The only musical department in which Dethklok disappoint me is the vocals. Sure, the lyrics are just comedy value but the vocals aren’t that clear in the mix and Brendon clearly isn’t a developed growler. His timing is top notch, and adds to the hilarity of the lyrics but his tone and conviction are pretty weak. The texture compliments the tone but his technique isn’t great and generally I don’t enjoy his vocals too much. This is definitely a problem when the vocals should be audible enough to hear the lyrics. With that in mind, you’d think more clean vocals would be welcome but their very brief appearances on ‘Hatredcopter’ and ‘Kill You’ (originally by the Pickles-fronted Snakes N’ Barrels) are actually even worse than the growls. Still, so long as I can still read the lyrics in the booklet, I can thoroughly enjoy the record as a genuine metal album.
Without the comedic quality of Metalocalypse, this album would be nowhere, but thankfully the lyrics to all of the songs reflect the humour in the show as a whole. There’s a few songs which are just parodies of mindless gore lyrics in the vein of Cannibal Corpse, others which are on completely random topics (“You have lined my pockets, overflowed with gold, you’re living with your parents, you’re 35 years old” is a select favourite of mine from ‘Fansong’). Hell there’s even a track which summons a troll that can only be put back to sleep by playing grandpa’s guitars. All of the tracks contain at least a few moments of lyrical genius, but there’s a few tracks (such as ‘Birthday Dethday’ and ‘Briefcase Full Of Guts’) that are in all seriousness the greatest lyrics ever. Of course the show itself is funnier but the lyrics to the songs and especially the spoken word track ‘Dethklok Gets In Tune’ get huge laughs out of me every time.
If you haven’t seen the show, I would definitely recommend doing so before buying the album, but you won’t be massively missing out on the enjoyment if you don’t, because the album is a great piece of work in it's own right, and the great humour that goes along with it is a substantial bonus. As I’ve said before, there’s only one minor error and huge value for money, packing plenty of music into your purchase, and a whole lot more if you get the deluxe edition.
I’ve actually seen a few people that have got into death metal through Metalocalypse, and hopefully the release of a full length album will help that along even more, as this is definitely a solid release. Of course it’s far from the best album in the world but who cares? It’s Dethklok, it’s hilarious and most importantly of all, it’s metal.
Originally written for www.ultimate-guitar.com reviewing team.
I like Metalocalypse. It gets a good laugh out of me every now and then, and what would a show about a metal band be without metal?
The music works well on the show. Nothing too long or drawn-out - all humorous, childish stuff that complements the subject matter of each episode quite well. I even grabbed some of the TV tracks before I knew The Dethalbum would be released. While it sounds good on the show, making a full-length album out of this shit is a mistake. The guitarwork is sub-par...I'm almost certain that Brendon Small could write better stuff than is shown here. I didn't notice the bass (thank God another person wasn't paid for it), and the vocals were probably the weakest I've ever heard in metal. I suppose one could argue that certain folk or power bands have weak vocals, but they're not aiming for brutality. Context, dawg. The drums...probably the selling point for the album to the real metalheads.
See, Brandon Small knows he can't release a true-to-the-roots death metal album and expect it to sell to the masses. It's been proven over and over that quality has to be compromised in order for that to happen. BUT, he's enlisted Gene Hoglan so that some of us will jump on it without fully analyzing what's presented. And I'll admit - the drums are a major fucking step up from the programmed tracks. Still...not convincing enough.
I couldn't give this album a 0, however - certain tracks like "Awaken" and "Thunderhorse" (even though I've heard the latter far too many times on Gaytar Queero) still appeal to me. The lyrical content is funny and reminds me of the show. The guitars, as disappointing as they are, have their merits. The production is completely sterile, of course - Best Buy isn't gonna sell kvlt shit.
Someone who views this as more of a soundtrack and less of a metal album would get more enjoyment out of it than I did, but this IS Metal-Archives...I'm honestly kind of amused that the band even made it here, but the "what-if" part of me was only waiting.
I wouldn't buy The Dethalbum even if Metalocalypse were my favorite show. The bonus tracks fail to impress me and lengthening the originals just makes for a lot of shitty redundancy that'll leave you hitting the Forward button on your media player.
I must admit, I didn't think that Metalocalypse creator Brendan Small would go so far as to record and release an entire album featuring his fictional band "Dethklok", but he sure proved me wrong. "The Dethalbum" features full-length tracks either taken or re-recorded from the show, with a few new songs in the mix as well. Overall, if you're buying/borrowing/downloading this for the musical aspect of it, you're going to be dissapointed. On the other hand, if you're a fan of the show, chances are you know what to expect. As far as the music goes, Brendon Small's guitar playing is pretty good (he is a Berklee graduate after all), but his "death grunt" sucks. It sounds like he whispered it into a microphone then turned the sound way up (that doesn't help you sound like George Fisher, believe it or not). The drums had better sound pretty damn good, since Gene Hoglan plays them, and the bass is...bass?
"The Dethalbum" is something of a mixed bag. The opening track "Murmaider" is somewhat enjoyable with it's absurd lyrical content and chorus of "Murder...murder...mermaid, murder," but ends abruptly and comes off as pretty forgettable. Next, the pseudo-epic "Into the Water" starts off with a pretty cool opening riff, but unfortunately doesn't really build up and gets pretty redundant after the intro. The revamped version of "Awaken" is actually quite good, and Small's lyrics are pretty believable and could pass as being serious, although very, very, VERY cheesy.
The only redeeming factor of "Bloodrocuted" is, again, its humorous lyrical content. Boring riffs, weak vocals, poorly executed and out of place solo. "Go Forth and Die" is another throw-away, not even worth going into detail. The same goes for "Fansong", but there seems to be some kind of subtle truth behind the lyrics that amuses me. "Better Metal Snake" isn't really good either, but the next song, "The Lost Vikings" has an Amon Amarth kind of feel to it, in both the instruments and the lyrical content, so overall not too bad.
And now we come to "Thunderhorse." Who hasn't heard this song before? It was featured in a video game, for God's sake. The updated version is very good, better in certain parts, but also a little over the top as well. "Briefcase Full of Guts" is funny, and pretty cool musically as well. "Birthday Dethday" is probably the best song on the album. Its actually got some pretty cool riffs as well as lyrics that made me laugh outloud the first time I heard them (Happy birthday....YOU'RE GONNA DIE!). "Hatredcopter" was released back on the European Saw 3 soundtrack, and there isn't a whole lot different in this mix of the song. Small's "clean" vocals do sound, though a little out of place, much better than his "grunt", and tend to help this song out a bit. After this , it goes down hill and ends on the could-have-been-much-better-if-it-wasn't-so-damn-long-and-repetitive "Dethharmonic."
Of course, if you get duped into...I mean...buy the deluxe edition you get 5 MORE SONGS (excluding the "Pickles' Intro", "Dethklok gets in tune", and a DVD of the music video for "Bloodtrocuted" and the first episode of Metalocalypse's second season.). They all suck with the exception of "Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle."
Overall, its not too bad of an album. Don't buy it expecting a death metal masterpiece (in fact, don't buy it at all, God made the internet, use it), its simply a parodical album that pokes a little fun at heavy metal cliches while still managing to be pretty listenable. Fans of the show won't be dissapointed, but if you've never heard of Metalocalypse (or just hate it), chances are you should avoid this one
Love them or hate them, most metalheads now generally know who Dethklok is. I remember as a fan watching the show, I'd hoped this day would come - and it finally has. This album is one of those albums I have a hard time trying not to listen to, actually. It's the sheer catchiness and the "Brendan Small sold himself to the devil riffing" that makes this album worth a listen.
Generally; the lyrics consist of parodical, but somewhat intelligent themes. They are actually well thought out, and upon reading the lyrics, you can appreciate that. There is a lot of Nevermore worship here, as well as Amon Amarth influence. Listen to "The Lost Vikings" and you'll almost sware that it was Amon Amarth playing in the background. Some of the riffs and solos are quite amazing - it's those hooks that keep this in your daily rotation of albums.
There are some letdowns, but that could really be up to the listener. "Hatredcopter" might be the most brutal, what we'd expect from Gene style of song - but Brenden's clean vocals aren't really that good in my personal opinion - but you have to give him credit for using them at all. I have heard worse, for instance Jeff Walker in his "Welcome To Carcass Country" album.
The best thing about this album though is not it's great riffs and solos, Gene's drumming, or the vocal hooks - but the variety of metal on this disc. There is literally something for everyone here. There's brutality, beautiful melody, orchestral score, 80's metal, blues influence, and alot of accessibility. I wouldn't be surprised if they started selling this at local Wal-Marts, if they aren't already. (It would be great to get some mallcore kids into the real metal scene) This is the metal record for the whole family if you will, 38 flavors besides vanilla - one of those albums we get once in a decade. It truly is an amazing album. Hopefully they can top this, should they release another album. But personally, I think that will be hard to do.