If you ever wondered what it would be like to cross the brilliant metal mocumentary ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ and Damon Albarn’s inspired animated hip-hop/electronica act Gorillaz, there is Dethklok.
The band, which is a virtual act, that is featured in the animated program, ‘Metalocalypse,’ airs on Cartoon Network’s ‘Adult Swim.’
But Dethklok is also a genuine live act, which will perform Wednesday, Halloween night aptly enough, at the Electric Factory
Brendon Small, who co-created the concept with Tommy Blacha, pulls double duty. Small voices three of the show’s characters, while Blacha does the voiceover for two of the animated metalheads.
But Small also does the heavy lifting when it comes to writing, recording and touring with Dethklok.
Small, who sings, plays guitar, bass and keyboards, in the studio, has a hand in everything that is Dethklok.
“It’s a challenge but it’s great,” Small said.
The animated version of Dethklok is inventive, amusing and entertaining. The band crafts melodic death metal, which has to be an oxymoron. The tunes, particularly those from the band’s third album, ‘Dethalbum 3,’ which dropped two weeks ago (10-16), are heavy and catchy.
“I think this might be the most melodic of the Dethklok albums,” Small said. “But I think I’m better at writing melodic songs than pure death metal anyway. It’s just something that is more natural for me. In between Dethklok albums, I put out a solo album that is much more melodic than anything I’ve done with Dethklok. Writing music is probably what I enjoy most. It’s a break from what I do on the show. The same can be said for touring. It’s fun. The show wears you out. I have to wait around for people to animate and do other things. It just takes so much time but I’m not complaining a bit. I’m really fortunate.”
The characters are amusing metal stereotypes. Vocalist Nathan Explosion is the ‘lead visionary’ (yes, this smacks of Spinal Tap), who is from Florida, the epicenter of death metal. The lead guitarist is Skwisgaar Skwigelf, who is a Swedish axemaster, who is tall, thin with long blonde locks ala Yngwie Malmsteen.
The band is rounded out by the muscular old-school headbanging guitarist Toki Wartooth, drummer Pickles, who parties as hard as he slams the skins. And then there is the ironically sensitive bassist William Murderface.
“I think we have an array of interesting characters,” Small said. “They each have their place”
Small records with bassist Bryan Beller and drummer Gene Hoglan. Guitarist Mike Keneally helps the trio flesh out the sound for its tour.
Small is incredibly fortunate to retain the services of Hoglan, who is a monster drummer that plays with a number of bands.
“There’s no doubt about that,” Small said. “Gene is one of the best drummers in the world. He has so much power and range. He’s a rarity. But I think each of the guys, Gene, Bryan and Mike are incredible musicians. They’ve each made me a better musician.”
The band will render four new songs for the tour as well as a few fresh sketches. “The comedy is brand new,” Small said. “To complement that, we’ll be doing some old favorites. I think there’s a great deal of balance with this show. I think it’ll be really interesting for the fans and for us as well.
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