From Left: Murderface, Skwisgaar, Nathan, Pickles and Toki
Dethklok is not your average death metal band. For one, they aren’t real – the original Dethklok, anyway. Think of The Gorillaz and you’ll get a much better idea of what I mean. Based off of Cartoon Netowork’s Adult Swim animated series, Metalocalypse, the actual touring band consists of the show’s creator Brendon Small, Mike Keneally, Gene Hoglan and Bryan Beller. For all of you out there unfamiliar with Dethklok and Metalocalypse, let me break them down separately to quell any confusion.
Nathan Explosion – Vocals
Skwisgaar Skwigelf – Lead Guitar
Toki Wartooth – Rhythm Guitar
William Murderface – Bass
Pickles – Drums
In the animated series, Dethklok is depicted as the most successful band of all time – ever! And I’m not even exaggerating. By the end of the second season, they have become the world’s seventh largest economy and have billions of extremely hardcore fans that will travel anywhere to see the band, even if it means putting their life in danger (every episode usually ends with scores of fans dying at a concert through some random event, often unknowingly caused by the band themselves).
The entire series actually feels like a tongue and cheek homage to rock music – not just death metal – and often feature characters that were directly inspired by actual rock stars, or at least a very exaggerated version of them, such as Doctor Roxo “The Rock and Roll Clown” who is the show’s take on seventies and eighties hair metal frontmen such as David Lee Roth and Axl Rose – complete with spandex and copious amount of chest hair. In fact, most of the show’s characters have a bit of real life influence behind them, including the band members themselves.
It’s a pretty ridiculous show but definitely funny, especially for any rock and roll fan, but now let’s get back to the real players behind them.
Clockwise from top left: Small, Keneally, Beller
Dethklok Live Members
Brendon Small – Vocals, Guitar
Gene Hoglan – Drums (2007–present)
Mike Keneally – Guitar, Backing Vocals (2007–present)
Bryan Beller – Bass, Backing Vocals (2007–present)
I was able to catch the band this past Tuesday when they performed across town at Hollywood’s Palladium Theater and to put it mildly – they rocked! It became fairly obvious early on that this was no typical death metal show when the stage crew came out to set up dressed as “Klokateers” – fictional uniformed minions of the animated band.
Most of the crowd interestingly consisted of an odd mix of your traditional hard rockers and – for lack of a better word – geeks, which makes perfect sense considering the band’s roots as the live component of an adult themed Cartoon Network show. There was even a fan (at least I think it was just a fan) who came meticulously dressed as the aforementioned Dr. Roxo – complete with visible plumber’s crack and pink spandex!
The show itself was a brilliant mix of tight fast paced musicianship and hilarious video montages consisting of plenty of comedic bits playing on a large screen above them. In fact, when you consider the how dimly lit the stage was compared to the screen above – except for maybe the occasional strobe flash – it was obvious that the centerpiece of the concert revolved around the animation.
Even then, Small’s live Dethklok band produced over 90 minutes of impressively intense harmonically charged death metal that kept the crowd in a frenzy throughout the set, complete with mosh pits and crowd surfing galore.
Every single band member more than held their own musically from guitarist Mike Keneally’s tight and pacing fret work, bassist Bryan Beller’s flawless back beat to drummer Gene Hoglan’s frenetic rapid-fire drumming. And of course, frontman Brendon Small kept the harmonies rolling fast paced and extremely solid.
After the opening video introduction, Dethklok performed the “Detheme” before sinking headlong into plenty of fan favorites, including hits from their recently released album, Dethalbum III, such as the lead single “I Ejaculate Fire.” Other crowd-pleasers included "Awaken," "Murmaider," "Bloodlines," "Thunderhorse" and "Go Into the Water."
All in all, the entire concert was a very entertaining mix of extreme death metal, hilarious animated videos and a huge helping of inside jokes from the cartoon. Honestly, you probably won’t ever experience something as unique (and hysterical) as a Dethklok concert!
Check out some pics from the gig below: