Dethklok: Dethalbum II

Purists might as well get used to it: this Dethklok thing is getting really good.


Dethalbum II

Label: Williams Street
US Release Date: 2009-09-29
UK Release Date: 2009-11-02
Artist Website

The popularity of Adult Swim's Metalocalypse is remarkable, but that's nothing compared to just how massive the musical side of the fictional death metal band has become among young American metal fans. From out of nowhere, 2007's tie-in CD The Dethalbum went on to greatly exceed expectations, debuting at number 21 (an unfathomable placing for a) a debut extreme metal album, and b) a soundtrack for a cartoon) and eventually selling in excess of 300,000 units. Efforts to take Dethklok on the road were cautious at first, the show's creator and composer Brendon Small dipping his toes in the water by taking a patchwork band to play free shows at colleges, but the kids had caught on to Dethklok the Cartoon Band so quickly, that it wasn't long before Dethklok the Real Life Band was so in demand that they were quickly doing headlining tours across the country.

Whether the "real" version of Dethklok works as a live experience is debatable, but on record it's another story entirely. Small, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, is a remarkable guitar player, not to mention a very savvy metal fan, and for all the jokes and wry takes on extreme metal clichés that Metalocalypse and The Dethalbum were loaded with, the songs were actually good. Sure, it was watered down enough to render the music a rather lightweight take on what devotees would define "true" death metal, but the record had a sense of song craft that tiresome, serious young bands like Suicide Silence and Winds of Plague could never hope to achieve. It was credible, it was catchy, and it was fun.

At the end of Metalocalypse's second season, the series had started to truly come into its own, its finale a pitch-perfect blend of comedy and action (let's see Michael Bay top anything as cool as the climax of "Black Fire Upon Us"), and similarly, the long-awaited Dethalbum II sees Small show enormous improvements on all fronts, from the songwriting, to the instrumentation, to even his lead vocals. In fact, what's especially interesting about this record is just how darn serious it is. Gone are the joke songs like "Birthday Dethday" and "Castratikron". Instead, the line between parody and over-the-top headbanger cliché becomes rather hazy; you know it's supposed to be the imposing animated character Nathan Explosion spewing these lines, but in all honesty it's not that far removed from, say, a Dimmu Borgir album. That said, before you assume that Dethalbum II is a disappointment due to its lack of satire, the arrangements are done so well, so superbly at times, that we can't help but be hugely impressed that Dethklok now sounds anything but a novelty act.

Boasting the kind of crisp, loud production and mix that popular metal demands these days, this album is positively thunderous, thanks in large part to Small's ace card, veteran drummer Gene Hoglan. The former Dark Angel, Death, and Strapping Young Lad member immediately makes his presence known on the throttling opener "Bloodlines", his taut fills, double-kicks, and blastbeats underscoring Small's percussive yet highly melodic guitar work perfectly. The rest of the album turns out to be remarkably consistent in tone, a combination of the post-thrash groove of Lamb of God, the symphonic bombast of the aforementioned Dimmu Borgir, and the synth-laden speed of Children of Bodom. Cascading synths adorn the epic scope of "The Gears", Hoglan's punishing beats propel the contagious "Laser Cannon Deth Sentence" ("D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D DIE!"), "Dethsupport" is an impressive death metal workout, "The Gears" launches into a gargantuan stomp bound to be a mosh pit fave, while "Murmaider II: The Water God" is a much more imposing, theatrical extension of the original "Murmaider" from the first record.

Not all the songs on Dethalbum II work, the most glaring one being the garish, DragonForce-esque power metal of "I Tamper With the Evidence at the Murder Site of Odin", but for the most part this is a very consistent second album by a band that continues to surprise. What might have looked like a fad three and a half years ago is now an undeniable multimedia force.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.