"Like a Disney ride, but with murder." That's how frontman/creator Brendon Small describes the "virtual" live show he puts on in the guise of Dethklok, the animated heavy metal quintet whose comic misadventures and skull-blasting power-chords form the basis of the cult series Metalocalypse on Adult Swim. Small "performs" as Dethklok by projecting the animated death-metal superstars on a screen behind the stage, while he and three other flesh-and-blood musicians play the actual music. It's avant-garde but not unprecedented: Britpop visionary Damon Albarn pioneered the blended-media technique with his Gorillaz project a few years ago. And like Gorillaz, Dethklok is a legitimate commercial force: the band's 2007 debut album, The Deathalbum, peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Top 200. Not bad for a bunch of bumbling pen-and-ink longhairs. Oh, lest we forget — the tour features real live-action longhairs, too: the Grammy-nominated sludge metal band Mastadon, who are headlining the show. As far as we can tell, there's no truth to the rumor that Dethklok guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf and his Mastodon counterpart, Brent Hines, have been vying for the same groupies.


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