It's one thing to make a cartoon that affectionately sends up the theatrics of death metal. It's another thing entirely for Brendon Small, co-producer and co-creator of the animated Adult Swim show Metalocalypse, to make three albums of astute extreme metal under the guise of his imaginary creation. Metalocalypse is premised on a dystopian future where the dim-witted metal band Dethklok not only is the world's biggest act but the seventh-largest world economy, such that the delay of their latest album results in a worldwide "Dethsession." Small composes the show's music with drummer Gene Hoglan, who's sat in with acts such as Testament and Fear Factory. In concert, Small and his band perform Dethklok material behind video screens, sort of like a forsaken Gorillaz. Though most of the early songs were mere parodies plugged into the show's set pieces (a death metal coffee jingle, for instance), new record Dethalbum III has upped the ante. The blistering riffs and relentless double-bass of "I Ejaculate Fire" and "Impeach God" are too impressive to write off as novelty. Previous Dethklok albums have held impressive positions on the Billboard charts, bringing death metal to audiences that otherwise would have had no gateway to its heavy delights. It's the best possible result of a running joke that's actually started to sound brilliant.
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