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When the Doomstar Requiem first came out, there was rarely controversy regarding the plot, animation, and music work, but there were certainly a few who claimed it was all downhill from here for Dethklok and Brendon Small. These people couldn't be more wrong. The Doomstar Requiem - A Klok Opera (soundtrack) is not only fantastically composed, well written, catchy and very metal, but it's plot can be followed with or without the video to back it up. Many people, both seasoned dethklok fans and newbies alike, have said that the "klok opera" rock opera was funny, metal, and entertaining. This "soundtrack" just confirms what Galaktikon tried to claim, which is that Brendon Small is a musical shapeshifter, and a damn fine one too.
Being that this is indeed a soundtrack, I will focus less on how the plot is presented without visuals, and more so on the actual work being done. I feel that either way it is brilliantly put together, and while it still holds up to the goofy band's funny standards, it takes on a whole new meaning with some epic storyline action going on.
The story itself is easily recognizable and can be followed using just the soundtrack. In fact, I personally feel the story is even strengthened if you watch the show once and then listen to the music, as the pictures you place in your mind tend to be a lot cooler than the animation done by Brendon Small, which was slightly downgraded in the actual video. Regardless, this is about the soundtrack, and if you liked the Doomstar Requiem, the soundtrack is really nice to have.
Now, onto the music. Some people who haven't seen the premiere should be warned that it might not be worth the investment, as well as anyone who only likes Dethklok's sound and wouldn't want it any other way. For the rest of us, dethklok fans and newbies alike, the soundtrack is spectacular. The songs are incredibly catchy, the orchestra aspects of it have taken a dramatic transformation since the first ever "Dethharmonic" featured in the first "Dethalbum", the guitar work is even more brilliant here, and the vocals are astonishing.
To start with, the guitars in this do an excellent job here. Obviously, this being a rock opera, you need good music to accompany the vocals. Well, the guitar work with the vocals of Brendon Small and various other guest artists are amazing. There are also some epic displays of metal prowess in such songs as "Some Time Ago" and "The Duel". While it does take on a bit more of a melodic sound half of the time, the rest is either orchestral or the brutal, heavy sound we all know and love.
The orchestra itself does an amazing job. Bear McCreary really hit it off here, making an amazing display of music that somehow just hits the ear perfectly and fits well with the metal vibe. It's catchy, rhythmic, and downright spectacular. If you are anything like me, you will come to love the sound.
As far as the drums and bass go, it's short and simple, great jobs by both Gene Hoglan and Bryan Beller. They have always done an amazing job for Dethklok, and no less is expected from them. They make the album great, and are as essential as the guitars or even orchestra.
Finally, the vocals. A lot of people came together to contribute to the vocals of the premiere and soundtrack. Jack Black even made a guest appearance, as well as various other amazing artists. Brendon said that he had a lot of fun just recruiting people who inspired him in things like Galaktikon for the "klok opera." The vocals are truly breathtaking, and it's a good thing too, because the entire thing is singing. There are some segments with the loved death growls of both high and low pitches/vibrations, and a lot of clean vocals too (if you can consider Nathan's "talk-singing" clean). Fantastic work.
The album is great and can be enjoyed even without having watched the premiere. Dethklok fans, get it right now, before they send the gears after you. Everyone else, give it a listen before you decide, but make sure you don't listen to random tid-bits, as the story is a really nice factor here with the soundtrack.
Rating: 95/100 Doomstars
Worthiest Songs: Some Time Ago, The Duel, Morte Lumina, The Blazing Star.
The title may seem exaggerated, but the truth is I feel like this is the pinnacle of our art.
For starters, I find myself constantly humming along to the soundtrack. The tunes are catchy and the songs are well-crafted and actually in the end are quite uplifting, but at the same time some of the main 'metal' tracks maintain an air of brutality such as 'Morte Lumina' or 'Magnus and the Assassin'.
Without a moment to spare for filler, Brendon Small has created a single operatic piece from several different (and in some cases quite contrasting) genres and even styles of genres. However, the overall theme of the opera is never lost or misplaced.
In terms of originality, Brendon has created just enough genericism to be 'funny' and enough creativity to avoid anything becoming long and drawn out or grinding. Not once did I find myself checking how much time was left. On the other hand, I do feel disappointed that the writer(s) never found a way to work the song 'Blazing Star' into the actual opera, which I interpreted as the (for lack of a better word) 'climax' of the fourth season.
When I watched the cartoon, I was at first disappointed that the entire thing seemed to be one long cheesy song. However, after my first whole listen through of the soundtrack I found myself with an uncontrollable desire to sing along, a feeling I haven't felt since I first bought 'Live After Death' on vinyl.
The seamless flow between songs and genres, even the juxtaposition of metal against '80s synthpop, is absolutely a masterpiece and I particularly loved the complete shift between 'Givin' Back to You' and 'En Antris et Stella Fatum Cruenti'. The latter features the vocals of a metal god and long time voice character of the show, Corpsegrinder. The only problem I found is the lack of 'metal'. The only issue was perhaps they didn't do enough, but working to a television schedule I feel they did the best they could have. A work of art to be proud of and as of this moment, under-celebrated.
In conclusion, I feel that the writer(s) have created a work that should influence many artists,not only in metal, but other genres as well. Additionally, they have broken the mold of switching between genres.
Brendon Small did not create this album under Dethklok's name because it is not a Dethklok album: it is a product of Metalocalypse. I believe this is a crucial idea to keep in mind when approaching this album. At times, the music becomes painfully goofy. I consider myself an avid fan of Metalocalypse, and the absurdity of this project became a little too much for me at times. That being said, the album has definite musical merit and really is an impressive feat, albeit with definite flaws. Anyone who isn't a fan of the show may find those flaws too glaring to really enjoy the music.
For those who are unaware, this album is the soundtrack to the Doomstar Requiem, a 47 rock opera created for the TV show Metalocalypse. If you don't know what Metalocalypse is, you should walk away as this is a terrible place to begin. Those who know Metalocalypse will immediately realize the largest issue of this album, "How do you create a musical with a cast of characters with deliberately ridiculous voices?" For the most part, the answer is, "With a sense of humor," and the results range from hysterical to grating. Amazingly, Small actually crafts decently melodic singing voices for characters that, while still distinctly obnoxious and recognizable, blend really well with the instrumentation. During "The Crossroads," Murderface's trademark nasally lisp complements the suspenseful orchestration, while he, Pickles, and Nathan achieve a wonderful harmony in "Some Time Ago..." Pickles voice in particular deserves special recognition for its delightfully rough and dramatic tone, especially in "Blazing Star," which will sound familiar to any fan of the episode "Rehabklok." Special recognition is also owed to George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher who provides a phenomenal growl for the main villain that even a non Cannibal Corpse fan like myself could find spectacular. At times Brendon, who provided around 50% of the vocals, is less successful. The first sung lines of the album are particularly painful, and I was greatly disappointed to hear Offdensen singing with such tense, unpleasant vocal quality. While the vocals are hands down the weakest part of the album, I urge any listener to give the music a chance past the off-key beginnings, as Brendon develops the various parts into much cleaner roles during the second half. Still, you shouldn't expect the musical to take home Tonys anytime soon.
Underneath the shaky vocals, the instrumentation creates an astounding foundation for the album. Brendon's typical shredding guitar work is present and makes a triumphant appearance in "The Duel." In addition to the usual kickass melodic death metal sound that Brendon and Gene Holgan have developed for Dethklok, Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead) composes a phenomenal fifty-piece orchestra that defines the dramatic movement of the musical with really powerful melodies. If you're into classical music, the last track on the album, "Doomstar Orchestra," is a quite moving piece. Throughout the rest of the album, Brendon carefully complements the rousing violins with thick riffs and pounding drums. The best example of this is "En Antris Et Stella Fatum Cruenti" where the guitar and drums mark a delightful staccato with the orchestra before Fisher's vocals tear through the scene. Dethklok is not symphonic metal. Nevertheless, the music here is a powerful testament to the ability of classical music and metal to coexist in a single dramatic statement.
The overall vibe of the album is difficult to describe. In many ways, this is not a metal album. Some songs ("Magnus and the Assassin," "Blazing Star") are solid metal pieces with powerful riffs and vicious vocals. When Nathan provides full, honest-to-god metal vocals, they are perfectly executed. It is a full, scathing texture that Brendon has improved upon in every album and carries so much raw power that can be heard in "The Depths of Humanity." More often though, the songs are cheery, even cheesy, to fit the humor of the musical. Somewhat of a "Thriller" parody, "Givin' Back to You," is practically a pop song that is admittedly quite catchy. If you go in expecting all metal, all the time, you are going to be disappointed. In no way should the non-metal pieces be discarded though. The clean melody that Brendon delivers in the voice of Ishnifus builds to several fantastic climaxes, such as in "Training," and the pop quality of the songs often contribute to their humor, such as in "Abigail's Lullaby," where Raya Yarbrough cheerfully describes their gory doom. I will reiterate that this album is intended for fans of the show. The tongue-in-cheek take on a musical will seem idiotic to anyone who doesn't appreciate the usual humor of Metalocalypse and the campy music will put off anyone expecting an actual metal album.
For what the album attempts, it does a remarkable job. The lyrics are funny, the music is appropriately intense at moments, and the album covers a wide range of genres with a definite metal background. The overall vision of the album is simply not going to work for some people though, and the attempt is not perfect enough to be appreciated for sheer musical merit. For a straightforward melodic death metal sound, stick with regular Dethklok. If you are interested in the usual light-hearted approach to metal Metalocalypse provides, this album also provides just enough musical innovation to be truly entertaining and I strongly recommend it. Better yet, watch the musical!
Also, if nothing else you should listen to "A Traitor Amongst Them" just to hear how terrible Mark Hammil is at singing.