Dethklok Invades Marquee Theater

By Jonathan McNamara

Better Than: Spinal Tap. Sure, this animated band owes a lot to its comedic predecessor, but sheer technical skill from the band that makes Nathan Explosion, Pickles the drummer and all the rest of these rogue rockers live puts Dethklok a few notches higher.

See more shots from the show in our slide show Dethklok Invades Marquee Theater

It’s not uncommon for thousands if not millions of people to die during a single song at a Dethklok show. As lead singer Nathan Explosion tosses gravel around his vocal chords leading the rest of his brutal band down a death metal-paved road straight to Hell, an awakened demon 50 stories high and thirsty for blood is actually quite likely to appear and satiate its bloodlust on the fans.

I wasn’t alone. Dethfans were lined up out the door and down Mill Avenue in the sweltering afternoon sun waiting to get in.

The multitude of fans was hardly surprising considering what Dethklok has managed to accomplish. This animated band’s cartoon show Metalocalypse on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim has already run for two seasons. An album based on songs from the show called “Dethalbum” debuted at #21 on the Billboard 200 chart, making it the highest charting death metal album of all time.

How could I let fear of my own mortality keeping me from seeing a band that has accomplished so much without actually even existing? Virtual or not, I had to see this band arrogant enough to call themselves the most brutal band in the world even if it meant I wouldn’t live through the night.

While half the crowd was still getting pat down and putting their shoes back on after the security check at the entrance, Soilent Green (which incidentally is comprised entirely of people) was already laying down metal melodies on stage.

Soilent Green Ben Falgoust wins the award for best rock hair of the night.

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This Louisiana-based band clearly listened to a lot of Pantera in their moody high school years. They play their music well enough, but as I write this a few hours after the show, I can’t help but think that their most memorable detail is lead singer Ben Falgoust’s hair. He may have the ultimate head-banging lochs.

Before leaving the stage, Falgoust checked in with the audience to see how everyone was doing then addressed the headliners:

“We know why you guys are here tonight. It’s no surprise! You’re here to see Dethklok!”

It was not only true, it was the singular thought that all audience members had in common. Still, it certainly didn’t prevent anyone from enjoying a second round of metal featuring Chimaira who hit the stage and immediately incited mosh pit rots with calls for circle pit action.

Chimaira guitarist Rob Arnold lays it down.

On stage Chimaira’s dual guitar runs punctuated by deafening squeals lead the band through simultaneous head banging the likes of which would make a chiropractor cringe. It was a great show thanks to the bands musical skill and lead singer Mark “Earth” Hunter’s effort to get the crowd involved as much as possible. Even as they exited the stage, Hunter was tossing water bottles like an old pro to an audience full of sweaty moshers.

The tension in the Marquee was thick as roadies check-checked into mics on stage; mics that would soon hold the voice of Nathan Explosion. Fans wondered what they would see. Would it be a fully animated show like The Gorillaz?

Rather than a fully animated experience, we got the best of both worlds. On the massive screen, a typical episode of Metalocalypse played out while an actual band fronted by Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small took the stage.

“It would appear Dethklok is going on tour” the Tribunal, an government collective dedicated to destroying Dethklok in any way possible, posits as images of fans play out on a computer screen. How best to stop the most brutal band in the world this time? Simple. Kill the fans and Dethklok dies financially.

Leaving the plot points aside, I’ll simply point out that the fact I was able to glean that much of what was going on in the video is fairly amazing considering the deafening roar of the army of Dethfans who started screaming the moment Dethklok’s logo appeared and stopped only in brief spurts to confer with neighbors that this show was “totally brutal.”

Brendon Small rocks on as his animated creations do the same behind him.

Dethklok dove straight into hits from the show sending shockwaves of death metal out to the crowd with tracks including “Briefcase Full of Guts,” “Birthday Dethday,” and “Hatredcopter.”

Any expectations that a band based on cartoon would lead to a gimmicky performance were massacred like the innocent under the chrome-spiked wheels of Dethklok’s Murdertrain. These guys weren’t just actors having a laugh. Explosive percussion courtesy of Gene Hogian paired with Mike Keneally and Bryan Beller on rhythm and bass guitar respectively formed the perfect foundation on which Brendon Small could unleash his brutal lyrical prophecy on the world.

If you closed your eyes, raised your devil horns you could almost believe in your maggot-filled heart of hearts that Nathan Explosion, Toki Wartooth, Pickles, Skwisgaar Skwigelf and William Murderface Murderface Murderface were actually on stage preparing to summon a flesh-hungry demonic monstrosity.

Random Detail: At the end of the show, the voice of Nathan Explosion said “This heat makes Tempe the most brutal city in the United States.”

Personal Bias: Tracks “Murmaider” (a song about mermaid murder) and “Go Forth and Die” (a song about how going to college is the equivalent of death) were easily the fan favorites.

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