20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Dethklok’s The Dethalbum II by Dan
Fictitious metal band Dethklok releases its second album on Tuesday

Fictitious metal band Dethklok releases its second album on Tuesday

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Dethklok’s “Burn the Earth” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 watts

In a perfect world, extreme metal would rule the airwaves and a death metal band would become international cultural icons. Such is the case in the world of Cartoon Network’s television series Metalocalypse, and the band in question is Dethklok.

On the show, the fictitious Dethklok has five members of American or Scandinavian origins. In real life, the band is comprised of the show’s animator, Brendon Small — a guitar virtuoso and Berklee graduate — along with veteran metal drummer Gene Hoglan. In 2007, the two released The Dethalbum under the Dethklok name. The album was comprised solely of songs Small had previously written for the TV show, and became the highest-charting death metal album in Billboard history.

To prepare for the upcoming third season of Metalocalypse, Small and Hoglan have returned with the aptly titled The Dethalbum II. But things have changed this time around. There are fewer tracks, and, unlike the first, not all of them correspond to specific episodes of the TV show.

While the first Dethalbum was, like Metalocalypse itself, a very tongue-in-cheek look at death metal (can anyone honestly take a lyric like “Many years ago today something grew inside of your mother/That thing was you” seriously?), the sequel is a serious, mature album that stands on its own within the genre. You no longer think of Dethklok as “that cartoon death metal band,” but as a legitimate act — even if it’s only Small and Hoglan.

To say the musicianship on Dethalbum II is miles above its predecessor wouldn’t be fair to the first album. Small and Hoglan have an excellent musical understanding and have produced top quality results since day one. This time, though, their performances are more focused than before.

You may have laughed during songs like “Briefcase Full of Guts” on The Dethalbum; we did, too. But when the machine-gun rhythms on new songs like “Burn the Earth” or “Laser Cannon Deth Sentence” start blasting, all you can do is throw up the devil horns and start headbanging. In the end, Dethalbum II tells us one thing: Dethklok may be a fake band, but (should Small decide to keep pursuing his heavy metal side) it could have a very real future.

— Dan Kaplan

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