Dethklok mixes guttural growls and blast beats with soaring melodies that aim for epic altitudes.
Review by David Feltman
Everything about a Dethklok album screams novelty. Dethalbum III is a soundtrack to a cartoon/album by an imaginary band filled with tracks titled “I Ejaculate Fire” and “Impeach God.” The whole package is undeniably a tongue-in-cheek love letter to metal heads. But what makes musician/cartoon creator Brendon Small’s animated metal band so surprising is that the music has consistently been some of the best melodic death metal put out since At the Gates released Slaughter of the Soul.
The beastly bastard child of Cannibal Corpse and Children of Bodom, Smalls as Dethklok mixes guttural growls and blast beats with soaring melodies that aim for epic altitudes. It’s the same sound that established Dethklok and it has remained static over the band’s history. But it feels a little foolish to quibble over the homogeneity of a cartoon band, especially when the final product is this solid. There are some strides made to keep the album dynamic. Many tracks incorporate an eastern flavor a la Nile. “Killstardo Abominate” leaves the harmonizing guitar riffs and galloping rhythms behind for two and a half minutes of brutal speed metal. The song offers a precision kick in the ass to ward off any midpoint sagging.
Dethalbum III shows evolution in other areas as well. The clip-like two-minute tracks of the first album have grown into fully fleshed four-to-five-minute songs. And this album even has a unifying concept. While the previous releases were simply collections of jokey songs from the cartoon like “Bloodrocuted” and “I Tamper with the Evidence at the Murder Site of Odin,” every track of the third Dethalbum seems to revolve around intergalactic warfare. It may not be a deep or innovative idea, but it’s the same concept that’s sustained Coheed and Cambria for six albums.
Dethklok is growing beyond the sum of its novelty act parts. Smalls has taken a funny bit of entertainment and created some real and enjoyable metal music. “Metalocalypse” will always maintain a satiric bent, but in terms of legitimacy, Dethklok is climbing the animated ranks from “Josie and the Pussycats” to Gorillaz.