What happens when a work of satire becomes larger and more successful than the subject matter? Brendon Small, multi-instrumental lead vocalist of cartoon band Dethklok, is faced with this conundrum thanks to Metalocalypse, his sinister televised study, spoof, and tribute to all things metal.
The Adult Swim program features five oblivious death metal band mates whose unprecedented global success, religiously devoted following, and dark brand of cultural imperialism unwittingly play a pivotal role in fulfilling ancient Sumerian end-time prophecies. Each episode of the show climaxes with a violent musical summation of the animated heroes’ adventures. And like a heavy metal Jonathan Swift, Small’s caricature of the real-life Scandinavian church burning ethos has fictional singer Nathan Explosion channeling Gorgoroth while screaming “I challenge the Gods to stand their ground.”
Dethalbum III, like the band’s two previous full-length records, is an anthology of original tracks featured on the cartoon reworked into a proper album. But somehow, the sum total of its parts manages to come across as more than just a compilation. Metalocalypse viewers and Cradle of Filth fans will treasure the morose humor found on tracks like “I Ejaculate Fire” and “Impeach God”, while hardened metal-head zealots will quiver in the thunder of double kick drums set to melodic speed riffs that would be the envy of Children of Bodom. Granted, things can get repetitive and there’s a bit of a learning-curve for those unfamiliar with the target genre of mockery, but even casual fans can appreciate the musical expertise and technical proficiency required to craft such devilish noise.
Despite the added context of the TV series, it’s difficult to figure out where the joke ends and the actual band begins. Is this a Hot Topic clothing store evolving into haute couture or Weird Al Yankovic playing Carnegie Hall? Regardless, Dethalbum III’s tongue-in-cheek bravado delivers a more potent hour of music than many of the icons who originally inspired it.
Essential Tracks: “Crush the Industry”, ” Impeach God.”