You’d think Dethklok would have nothing to worry about. They’re the number one metal group in the world, with an economy larger than Belgium’s. They live in Mordhaus, a foreboding tower reminiscent of Skeletor’s Snake Mountain, and travel via various Dethklok branded vehicles to their gigs. This is a band whose fans will risk death to attend a recital of their 30 second coffee jingle.
But they’re a metal band – of course, they have problems. Ridiculous infighting, egos growing wildly out of control, girlfriends almost tearing the band apart, disagreements with the record label, and that one time when they accidentally summoned a giant Finnish troll…
Voiced by the two co-creators, Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha, Dethklok is comprised of the brooding Nathan Explosion on vocals, fastest guitarist in the world, Skwisgaar Skwigelf, second fastest, Toki Wartooth, William Murderface on bass, and Pickles the drummer. Ever watchful of the band’s movements is a secretive group, The Tribunal, led by Mark Hamill’s Senator Stampingston. Constantly attempting to infiltrate and destroy Dethklok from within, the Tribunal’s attempts are constantly confounded by the band’s incompetence, generally resulting in a spectacular variety of deaths.
The show has often been compared to Spinal Tap, and this isn’t an overstatement. Minus the faux-documentary style, the cartoon follows the mundane activities of the group doing normal things while remaining true to their ideals (which essentially boils down to continuing to be as metal as possible). There are so many references to other bands it’s untrue. From a hilarious Guns n’ Roses pastiche, to the fast-food chain Dimmu Burger, to the sheer number of guest voices from genuine metal groups (Metallica, Cannibal Corpse, Faith No More, King Diamond). Like Spinal Tap, the dialogue is all too quotable, and the show has spawned a music CD release with another on its way.
Like other Adult Swim cartoons, each episode lasts around 12 minutes, and tends to end rather abruptly, without any definitive resolution. That’s fine, they don’t need to be any longer. It’s entirely long enough to parody an aspect of metal without becoming a tired concept and, if boredom does set in, you’ll be on to the next episode by the time you realise it. There’s a continuing plotline running throughout the season concerning The Tribunal, but each episode works just fine watched standalone.
When a show can feature Kirk Hammett as the voice of the Queen of Denmark, you know the show doesn’t take itself seriously and neither should you. You don’t need to be drunk, stoned, or even a massive fan of this particular genre of music to enjoy the show; the only real difficulty is in understanding some of the voices. But that’s a small challenge, and soon you’ll be singing along to the infectiously metal theme tune and then, before you know it, you’ve become one of the fans who will run the risk of having their face torn off to see another episode.
What the show loses in taste and decency, it makes up for with sheer unbridled violence. And metal. If you don’t like Metalocalypse you’re probably really mean or boring.
Identical to its Region 1 release, the show is presented in faux widescreen (a disappointing non-anamorphic 1.78:1). Sound is Dolby Digital 2.0, which holds up perfectly well, but you can’t help thinking more would’ve been better, given the subject matter, and the dialogue in the episodes remains censored although a minor concession is made by covering the worse swear words up with guitar chords.
ExtrasThankfully, though uncensored, the extras on the 2-disc set seem at first to be rather meagre in offering, but it turns out that the majority of them are hidden as easter eggs. For a box set that has over 70 minutes of bonus material, that’s a lot of clicking around.
Sorely lacking in audio commentaries, you’ll notice that the bulk of the extra content is either uncensored versions of scenes in the show, or extended scenes.
An accurately animated guitar lesson (“The Skwisgaar Skwigelf Advanced Fast Hand Finger Wizard Master Class”) for the previously-mentioned coffee jingle and an extended version of Murderface’s bass solo head up the first disc with other notable extras like Nathan Explosion reading Hamlet, a tour of Mordhaus, and Murderface playing the Paperboy-esque videogame, “Wheelchair Bound”.
Metalocalypse Series 1 is available now.