Monday, September 17, 2007
Cartoon Network’s late-night programming block “Adult Swim” has been a staple of the late-night television genre since the mid 90’s. Originally containing very few original programs (such as “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast”), Adult Swim was more for the older crowd who enjoyed the cartoons that they had grown up watching. Since its debut, Adult Swim has grown dramatically thanks to the acquisition of shows like “Family Guy” and “Futurama” and now comprises of a majority of original programming. Thanks to Adult Swim, “Family Guy” was picked back up by Fox and “Futurama” has been renewed to Comedy Central. However, the success of Adult Swim as of late is mostly thanks to the original series such as “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” among many others.
This entry is intended to focus on the original series “Metalocalypse”. Metalocalypse was created by Adult Swim veteran Brendon Small, of “Home Movies” fame. The series debuted in the fall of 2006 and immediately became a giant success.
The series tells the story of fictional extreme metal band “Dethklok”, the biggest band and 12th largest economy in the world (having just passed Belgium). The show parodies many of today’s largest metal acts, and quite often makes light of gruesome deaths and critical injuries caused by the sheer brutality that the band presents on stage, in the recording studio, and in every day life. The band members are as follows…
Nathan Explosion: Lead Vocals
William Murderface: Bass
Skwisgaar Skwigelf: Lead Guitar
Toki Wartooth: Rhythm Guitar
Pickles the Drummer: Drums
The series does an excellent job of using the band members’ back stories and personal quirks to move the plot along, as well as create some classic jokes. I won’t delve into the story lines right now, but I will say that after I watched the entire first season…I now quote the show on an everyday basis. Simply the way the characters talk to each other is enough to laugh at, but the mannerisms and lingo sprinkled throughout each episode are what make these guys stand out amongst their competitors. I catch myself constantly putting more S’s in my speech, and occasionally speaking in a deep metal growl. It’s great if you have friends like mine.
Now, I’ll get into why I decided to write about this. Simply put, I feel like this show may have just redefined the standard for comedy programming today. This is largely due to the fact that not only is the show a completely original concept, but the music featured in the show is all original, and completely awesome.
Brendon Small is a genius. He is the head writer, producer, and director of every episode. He also voices many of the main characters, while still managing to never allow any of them to sound the same. These facts alone are enough to demand respect from anyone in today’s television market, but Brendon takes it a step further by also composing and performing all of the original music from the show. He plays all of the instruments and does all of the vocal work. The drum tracking is the only aspect of the entire show that does not belong to him.
Now, after reading all of that you might expect the music to be rather sub-par as metal has become a genre that’s rather easy to cut corners with these days. Let me assure you that the music is not only extremely catchy and effective; it’s also incredibly technical and requires a great deal of talent and skill to perform.
After the immense success of the 20 episode first season, Cartoon Network immediately picked Metalocalypse up for round two. This would normally be enough good news for any fan, but not for Dethklok fans. We demanded more than the show…we wanted the album. Of course none of us thought that this would happen…after all, how do find the funding to record a full length album of death metal songs that were featured on a 15-minute cartoon?
They found a way, and it was announced that “Dethalbum” would be released in the fall, right before the new season premier.
“Dethalbum” will be released next Tuesday with the season premier following on Wednesday. This of course is too long of a wait for me, so I searched around until I found a promotional copy of the album to tide me over until the release. The track list for the album includes a majority of the songs from the show, but also features several new tracks. When featured on air, the songs from the show were all very cool, but at the same time you could tell that they were recorded with the intent of garnering some comedic affect. After popping in “Dethalbum” last night….I was blown right away. The album has a completely different feel to it than the show, and it’s actually something that I can put in my car and drive to while banging my head violently. It sounds better than most mainstream metal albums have in a long time, in my opinion, and the fact that there were only three musicians playing on it was even more surprising. The only tracks that were not recorded by Brendon were the drums and some violin work on “Detharmonic”.
After listening to the album about 4 times through (and staying up until 3 am), I went to Amazon.com to check the pre-order sales for the album and first season DVD. Already the first season is number one in its class as well as being number 146 on the highest selling item list. The album has also generated so much buzz that it’s expected to go gold within the first month of release.
Now if you have a show that generates the highest ratings a network has ever had, and it produces a soundtrack that holds its own amongst mainstream metal…I would say that you’ve got something that the world has never seen before. Metalocalypse has set a new gold standard for television. I can hear it now…”Yeah the show is a hit, now can you make an original record from it and have that go platinum?” …the answer is no…you can’t.
You can now find Metalocalypse sprinkled throughout every day life. Whether is be the t-shirts and memorabilia you can find at Hot Topic, the references that are starting to emerge in the metal scene, or the playable version of “Thunderhorse” in Guitar Hero II…the show is starting to bleed into society, and I don’t see it letting up any time soon.
Keep it coming, Brendon…..
“Hi, My name Toki. I slips in and outs of diabetics coma. They should makes insulins flavored candy. Candy….tastes like chickens if chickens was a candy.”
- Toki Wartooth
Posted by Micah Pilson at 9:34 AM