Publisher: Madman Entertainment
Format: DVD (reviewed)
Release Date: October 21, 2015 / Original Release Date: December 5, 2007
Price: $34.95 AUD – Available Here / Complete Series Box Set $89.95 AUD – Available Here
Dethklok is the biggest death metal band in the world. Nathan Explosion is the lead vocalist and lead songwriter. Skwisgaar Skwigelf is the lead guitarist. Toki Wartooth is the rhythm guitarist. Pickles is the drummer. William Murderface is the bass player. Charles Foster Offdensen is the band’s manager and CFO. They do not always get along despite the fact that they all live together. The members of Dethklok are ignorant of the fact that a mysterious conspiracy surrounds them.
Metalocalypse features many different stereotypes of music fans. One scene features fans signing a waver that releases Dethklok from any responsibility or liability in the event that anyone dies at their concerts, drawing attention to the fact that some fans in real life can get a little too crazy. This is not the only way in which the series takes the term ‘die-hard fan’ literally. Many fans commit suicide after having to wait for what they consider to be too long for the next Dethklok album to come out, an overly exaggerated depiction of fans who demand that there is always more content for them to enjoy.
The childhood experiences of the Dethklok members are unusual and violent, but the writers make an interesting point about what it is like to raise children. Therapy and psychological validation are explored comically in one episode while the effects of drugs are explored seriously in another. Religion in particular is the subject of harsh satire in one episode, an episode that presumably resulted in dozens of angry letters being sent to Adult Swim. There is a lot of satire present in this series, much more than what is outlined here. Some scenes might get a bit random or dramatic, but this series is more than just mindless entertainment. The satire is almost always used for humour, but there are times when the satire is chillingly accurate about certain things.
A mysterious organisation is introduced at the beginning of the series. This organisation remains nameless throughout the first season but actively engages in secret missions to uncover information about Dethklok. Although some members of this organisation do pose a significant threat to Dethklok, it is not until the last episode of this season that there is any plot progression. At the same time, the final episode of this season is the first in which there is any continuity between episodes; nothing that happens in the first 19 episodes seems to be particularly significant in regards to the plot.
It comes as no surprise to find out that the animation was produced by Titmouse, which also worked on Superjail!, another Adult Swim series. Metalocalypse features about as much violence and grotesqueness as that series, and if you have seen even one minute of that series then you will have a reasonable idea of what you are getting into with this series. All nudity is censored in this season, but uncensored versions of scenes featuring nudity are included as hidden extras. The animation in all episodes is letterboxed, but if zoomed in the episodes can be viewed in an aspect ratio close to the 16:9 format.
Given that this is a series about a death metal band, death metal songs are featured prominently. It can be difficult to make out the lyrics on certain occasions, so it is recommended to listen them at a higher volume if possible. There are many guest stars from real bands, some of whom appear in multiple episodes, and all voice actors do a fantastic job of bringing their characters to life. All swearing is censored.
The extras included on the first disc include the Murderface Bass Solo, an extended version of a scene from the episode “Birthdayface”, and the Skiwsgaar Skiwgelf instructional video. There are also several extras hidden in the main menu; it will be explained here how to find them all. Nathan’s reading of Shakespeare’s Hamlet can be viewed by going up from the ‘Play All’ button or by manually highlighting Skwisgaar’s eyes. An extended and uncensored version of Murderface playing the fictional game “Wheelchair Bound” can be viewed by going up from the ‘Episodes’ button or by highlighting Nathan’s eyes. A 90 second video featuring Ravenwood playing an acoustic guitar while watching Skwisgaar’s intructional video can be found by going down from the ‘Set Up’ button or by highlighting the Dethklok logo. Uncensored outtakes from Skwisgaar’s music video “Thunder Horse” can be found by going up from the ‘Extras’ button or by highlighting Toki’s eyes.
The extras included on disc two include nine band interviews, all of which appear to play at a lower volume than everything else, a Mordhaus Tour given by Facebones and the Murder Reel, a compilation of the most violent scenes from this season. There are also hidden extras in the main menu. The uncensored version of the scene featuring Toki’s ‘codpiece’ from “Murdering Outside the Box” can be found by going up from the ‘Play All’ button or by highlighting the inside of the ‘D’ in ‘Dethklok’. The food menu for Burzum’s can be found by going up from the ‘Episodes’ button or by highlighting the Dethklok logo. A Selatcia teaser can be viewed by going up from the ‘Set Up’ button or by highlighting the ‘o’. A video featuring Pickles somewhat incoherently rambling about various things while drunk can be found by going up from the ‘Special Features’ button or by highlighting the top-right tip of the second ‘k’ in ‘Dethklok’. An uncensored version of the scene featuring Nathan’s groupies from the episode “Girlfriendklok” can be found by going down from the ‘Extras’ button or by highlighting the tip of the right axe in the Dethklok logo. The entertainment value of these extras will vary for each individual viewer. Shakespeare fans may enjoy Nathan’s commentary on Shakespeare’s writing, for example.
It is commonly believed in western culture that animated series are only for children. There are a few animated series produced in North America that are aimed at adults, but except for few exceptions such as South Park, most of them are just just a collection of crude jokes and are pointlessly random. Metalocalypse may feature some crude humour, and may occasionally be a little random, but many episodes have a purpose. There is a moral point to be found in the crazy things that happen because of and to the members of Dethklok. Similarly to South Park, Metalocalypse is hilariously entertaining because it offers a harsh satire on many aspects of western society and of human nature. It may be censored and may be too violent and grotesque for some, but its brutal satire and clever jokes make each and every episode worth watching. Where the series goes from here is anyone’s guess, but this may very well end up being one of the best western animated series of all time.
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