Review Summary: It isn't just a joke anymore.
Those that have been listening to Dethklok’s music through the Adult Swim cartoon Metalocalypse since Season One have realized by now that metal music and comedy somehow go quite well together. Those that went out and bought the Dethalbum quickly discovered that perhaps there is something more than just comedic value in Dethklok. Of course, there was no shortage of comedy in the Dethalbum, and many people just listened to the record for the sake of fun. Now, in the fall of 2009, it has become apparent that Dethklok/Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small is no longer smiling. The release of The DethAlbum II signifies the serious approach that the comedian is taking with the seventh largest economy in the world.
Musically, The DethAlbum II forgoes a portion of its humorous aspect with more, well, death metal. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any fun in this album; songs like Dethsupport provide a morbid, but very Dethklok-esque look on the cost of life support. Nathan Explosion’s vocals have undergone some changes as well. His signature growl remains, though he opts to utilize more of a screaming style for certain sections. In some instances, the vocals are stronger and display more variety than in the first album. Unfortunately, there are some sections in which the vocals seem weak, as if Brendon lost his voice right before recording them. Unlike some death metal style vocals, Explosion's are somewhat coherent, especially during the choruses. Of course, there are some sections where not a single word can be discerned.
The headbang-inducing riffs of Skwisgaar and Toki also return for Dethklok’s second record, although the overall feel seems to be more “epic” for lack of a better word. Sweeps and other classically influenced guitar techniques abound, it would appear that though far from an Yngwie Malmsteen record, Small has been brushing up on his theory. There is also a stronger presence of keyboards in this album as opposed to its predecessor. Gene Hoglan’s drumming does not disappoint, and sections such as the drum intro in Bloodlines provide some diversity from the standard death metal style drum parts. In general, Dethklok’s second effort is much more accessible to the standard metalhead while retaining its comedic value for fans of the show.
As Brendon Small has stated in an interview, there was a much larger budget for production of this album. That being said, there is a more layered feel to this record. Fans of Murderface’s bass playing will rejoice to hear that, yes, you can actually hear the bass in the songs. The guitars also fit better into the mix than in the previous album, and the tone has a little more bite to it. Overall, The DethAlbum II is a large step up as far as musicality goes. So if you liked the comedy of The DethAlbum but were disappointed with how simplistic and straightforward it was, this new release will not disappoint. The record is full of fun riffs and lyrics that are very much written in the same vein as the first.
When all is said and done, The DethAlbum II is a Dethklok album. It is not the most technical album, nor does it contain the density of humor found in the first album, but it is one of the most fun releases of 2009. You will headbang. To quote Dick Knubbler, “The bass rocks, the drums rock, the guitar rocks…it’s heavy metal.”
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