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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Dethklok

The Dethalbum

Review by Mike Korn

From their immense fortress of Mordhaus somewhere on the barren plains of Mordland, the mighty force known as Dethklok surveys their domain. Dethklok is not only the greatest death metal band to ever exist, but a globe-spanning power of tremendous potency.Composed of gruff Nathan Explosion on vo-kills, Swedish guitar wizards Toki Wartooth and Swisgaar Swigelf on the frets, the enigmatic Pickles on drums and the incontinent William Murderface on bass, Dethklok has been judged to be the 12th largest economic power in the world (just ahead of Belgium) and the album which I am attempting review here, The Dethalbum, reigns as the biggest selling death metal album of all time (this last is absolutely true!)

In the more boring real world, Dethklok is actually the cartoon creation of Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha. Though it seems hard to believe, the duo handle the voices of all the band members and many of the other character that appears on the animated show "Metalocalypse." In a world where metal bands such as Kiss, Gwar and Slipknot try to be cartoon characters, it seems only fair that we now have cartoon characters attempting to be a metal band. And you know what? They actually do a hell of a job at it! Most of the funny stuff is left for the "Metalocalypse" show itself. The music here on "The Dethalbum" is surprisingly powerful and clever extreme metal with a melodic touch. The guitar work is intricate and top notch and the drumming is provided by none other than legendary Gene Hoglan from Strapping Young Lad/Dark Angel/etc. The tracks here remind me of a cross between Megadeth, Fear Factory, Amon Amarth and mid-period Death. Even the grim vocals of Nathan Explosion are kind of unique, sounding almost like gruff whispering instead of "Cookie Monster" stuff. I'll give it to you peons straight...Dethklok means business and anybody into guitar-driven metal with maximum crunch should pick up The Dethalbum!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Murmaider
"There are no fingerprints deep underwater, nothing to tie one to a crime," mutters Nathan Explosion grimly to start the album. This is a most unusual song about the high price of vengeance. It's got a choppy Fear Factory feel to it, which transforms into an almost progressive piece of death metal. The guitar solo even reminds me of well-known death guitarist James Murphy!
Go Into The Water
The aquatic theme continues with this awesome track. I don't care whether this is a cartoon spoof or not, this cut just plain destroys! It has a sort of crunchy elegance to it, a kind of epic feel. The lyrics could have been inspired by Lovecraft's "A Shadow Over Innsmouth." What really makes this the best cut on the album is the awesome heavy and crushing slow riff on the chorus...totally killer! "We reject our earthly fires/Gone are days of land empires."
Awaken
This tune is an invocation to awaken the monstrous troll Mustakrakish from his underwater slumber. It's a bracing bit of thrashing metal with strong double bass drumming from Pickles and strong twin guitar work from Toki and Swisgaar. This almost could have been something off Megadeth's Rust In Peace!
Bloodrocuted
Fear Factory comes immediately to mind with the staccato crunch riffing of this bruiser. Only Fear Factory haven't done a song this catchy in about 10 years. Explosion's growling vocals have a bit of a rapidfire rap cadence to them here, but it doesn't hurt the track.
Go Forth And Die
This mid-paced march has a bit of "Viking" feel to it and some ghostly keyboards add ominous atmosphere. "Go forth and conquer...go forth and die!" Nathan grimly commands. A very cool song, with some hammering drums and a neat speed-up in the middle.
Fansong
"You people out there give us something more than just record sales...you give us hate! We hate you, you brainless mutants!" Nathan Explosion sneers to start this brief tune. This is obviously one of the more farcical songs, very simplistic in construction and the lyrics are hilarious. The keyboards again give a gloomy feel to the track and the constant repetition of the chant "Hate! Hate! Hate" and "Die!Die!Die!" gets monotonous. But maybe that's the point?
Better Metal Snake
This fast-paced and "cold" sounding cut has a strong black metal feel to it, like something you might hear from Dimmu Borgir. They mix some more standard choppy riffing with the black metal ambiance to create a kind of hybrid track. The falsetto backing vocals on the chorus makes this even more unusual.
The Lost Vikings
Dethklok really shows they know the metal underground with this track, which mimics the style of Viking metallers Amon Amarth to a T. The track has a brisk powerful gallop to it that sounds like a war march. The silly lyrics deal with a band of bloodthirsty Vikings who get lost on the way to a battle and are condemned to wander hopelessly through eternity. They are delivered with such solemnity that you can't help but smile. This is my favorite tune after "Go Into The Water."
Thunderhorse
More cool twin lead work helps boost this fast and very catchy track to the band's top level. Cartoon or not, this is just strong melodic death metal and I'd take it over anything by Soilwork or In Flames any day.
Briefcase Full of Guts
As the title would suggest, this is a more violent tune with angry drumming and over the top gory lyrics. Some of the morbid tremolo riffing reminds me of Death during their glory days.
Birthday Dethday
This has got to be the sickest birthday song ever. "Many years ago, something grew inside your mother's womb...YOU!" This is even faster and more brutal than "Briefcase Full of Guts"...the quickest cut on the album. Toki and Skwisgaar trade some scorching leads this time around. With this track, Dethklok announces they are a true death metal band.
Hatredcopter
The Hatredcopter is the gigantic flying base of operations for Dethklok...a flying machine so vast it can transport the band's entire massive stage set anywhere in the world. This is a real fast and thrashing cut that is livened up by some cleaner but still angry vocals joining Explosion's typical growls. I am reminded a bit of Anthrax by this one.
Castratikron
I'm not exactly sure what a "Castratikron" is, but I'm guessing it is something I don't want to run into! This is another album highlight, a real "chugging" tune with some awesome riffing on the chorus. The cut is as hard as tungsten steel but the melody and catchiness make it work so well.
Face Fisted
This antisocial ode is a heaving, chunky riff-fest that isn't super fast but which has a strong groove. The chorus made me smile with its evil refrain of "I'm so f!***n' tough, I'm so f***in' tough" which is answered by another voice yelling "That's right!". I can imagine a bunch of burly bald guys with tattoos, chin beards and wallet chains bashing each other while this plays.
Dethharmonic
Where the former song was bare bones and simple, this is almost symphonic and the beginning sounds like it was taken from a fantasy movie soundtrack. In fact, the symphonic part is pretty damn cool and sounds like the sort of intros that Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth do. Eventually the track turns into a slow and moody metal grinder with some of the symphonic elements like violins still blended in.
Deththeme
This is just a brief jamming version of the Metalocalypse theme music. Still, it's a good ending to what is actually one of the better death metal albums I've heard in a while.
You'll find an audio interview of this artist in the Music Street Journal members area.
 
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