It’s not unheard of for a cartoon band to become a real band. The precedent has been set by groups like The Archies, Josie and The Pussycats, and a little band you may have heard of called Gorillaz. Dethklok fits nicely into that tradition while maintaining the proper level of brutality. Unlike Gorillaz though. Dethklok has the advantage of being a cartoon band who actually have their own cartoon, the often hilarious Metalocalypse. Led by Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small (also the brains behind Home Movies) and featuring legendary drummer Gene Hoglan (“I don’t know how we got him,” said Small at one point), the band opened with the Metalocalypse theme song (all bands really should have their own theme song) before launching into new single, “I Ejaculate Fire.” There’s obviously a satirical edge to Dethklok’s music but the great thing about the satire is it’s sometimes only just slightly more ridiculous and exaggerated than what one might find in straightforward, meant-to-be-taken-seriously death metal. After all, this is a genre wherein one of it’s standard bearers, Cannibal Corpse, have an entire record which is essentially a concept album about necrophilia in all it’s myriad forms. I’ll bet you didn’t know there were myriad forms of necrophilia but apparently there are, especially when the living dead are taken into account. But I digress and (hopefully) no one really wants to hear too much about this subject, so let’s move on.
As I said, there’s a definite satirical edge to the lyrics, but the music is definitely taken seriously by the band. The music alone, however, would not have made for a show as entertaining as this was. Much of the entertainment value came from the continuous projections of scenes from the series, animated music videos, and scenes which seemed to be custom made for the tour. One of the more amusing was a message for all the guys at the show on how not to be a douchebag around the girls at the show since metal shows do tend to be a little testosterone heavy. The advice included such sage gems as “don’t stare” and “don’t rub your boner on them.” Both solid pieces of advice. All in all, Dethklok put on an entertaining show, despite the reservations I had going in.
That’s right, I had reservations. Not so much because I didn’t expect it to be good, but mostly because I didn’t know what to expect. Would we actually be doused with gallons of scalding hot coffee? Would this just be Gorillaz with heavy guitars and more guttural vocals? Would it be kind of like just watching cartoons but with a mosh pit? Well, sort of, but it was still a fun time. I did have one other misgiving about the show though, and that was the question of why Oakland metal heroes Machine Head (or “Machine Fucking Head” to their fans) were mere openers on this tour. After all, Machine Head’s been going since 1991 and have deservedly amassed a large number of dedicated fans. That said, after seeing the kind of show Dethklok puts on, I understood why they were headlining and it even made sense, but certainly others in attendance had the same thought. Machine Head did still get roughly an hour to dazzle the crowd and they did impress with the lengthy, proggy numbers off their latest, Unto The Locust. As I said, Machine Head have some dedicated fans and they did show their appreciation. “That’s what I love about Canada, that all you motherfuckers come out and get hammered!” said frontman Rob Flynn at one point. He also praised the crowd for being really loud. As loud as the crowd could get though, they showed how quiet they could get when Flynn asked for a moment of silence in recognition of fallen comrade Mitch Lucker, vocalist for Suicide Silence who recently passed away in a motorcycle accident. It was a nice moment.
Ultimately, while some may have quibbled over who exactly should have headlined, over the length of the set times, or over the early start of the show (I wonder how many got there for The Black Dahlia Murder’s 6:30 opening set? I certainly couldn’t bring myself to spend that amount of time at the dreaded Sound Academy) , it seems a pretty safe bet that no one walked away from this show entirely unsatisfied.