Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dethklok rages with thundering sonic apocalypse

     ORLANDO — Dethklok takes the over-the-top themes and playing style found in heavy metal music, and raises the bar of outright insanity. This group creates a soundtrack suitable for marching to war, but only if you don’t plan on taking any prisoners.

     The band’s music was originally created by guitarist and frontman Brendon Small and was later used as the inspiration for the Cartoon Network animated television series “Metalocalypse,” co-created by Small and comedy writer Tommy Blacha.

     The show is currently under production for its fifth season and has established a core group of diehard fans that have embraced its dark humor, graphic content and twisted characters reminiscent of the 1981 animated cult classic “Heavy Metal.”

     “I love how incredibly hard their music is, my favorite song has to be ‘Go Into The Water,” said concertgoer Alex Stoehr.

     Small and his fellow band members; Mike Keneally (guitar), Gene Hoglan (drums) and Bryan Beller (bass guitar), started their performance with a strictly businesses attitude. They powered through their songs after a brief introduction accompanied by video segments from the series. This was used to highlight the sounds with their razor sharp rhythms and gut-wrenching growls, manifesting like a thundering sonic apocalypse.

     All the aggressive style and attitude was broken up by elements of macabre humor, which their fans have grown to love. One gets the impression that once you step into the dark world of Dethklok, nothing will shock or scar you.

     “Its just so far out, you just can’t help but love all the madness,” said Christian Roberts, another devote Dethklok fan who has enjoyed the band since their first album was released in 2007.

     The cheers from excited fans within the packed “House of Blues Orlando” venue were deafening. And as the music played a near constant stream of crowd-surfers and mosh-pitters kept security on their toes.

     It wasn’t until nearly the end of the performance that Small took time to address the crowd. Like a heavy metal Seth MacFarlane -- who voices several characters on the animated series Family Guy -- Small spoke to his fans as he alternated between the several characters in the series he co-created.

     One notable element to this show was missing: the band Machine Head, which is on-tour with Dethklok, has been banned from performing at all locations that are within Walt Disney properties as of 2007. As the band states on their web site, Disney Properties objects to the group’s “violent imagery” and “inflammatory lyrics,” while considering their fans  “undesirable.”

     “Apparently they’re no longer allowed to perform here. I don’t know what to tell you, but that sounds like for a ‘House of Blues’ it seems like they did their job and gave that band the blues,” said Small as he addressed the missing act with the audience near the end of his performance.

     Another popular metal band that accompanied Dethklok for this performance was All That Remains, who are currently receiving extended airplay on rock stations around the nation with their song “Hold On.”

     “I was glad to see All That Remains, but who I honestly came for was Dethklok,” said local actress and recording artist Grae Marion. “I’m a big fan of Brendon Small, but mainly I’m a big fan of the actual characters he has created.”

     This show was part of the yearly “Blizzard Of Rock” concert series organized by the Central Florida alternative rock radio station 101.1 WJRR. Other groups that participated in this year’s showcase were Sevendust, Rise Against, In Flames and Sum 41, amongst others.

By James Tutten

(Photos by James Tutten)
Brendon Small, Dethklok's lead songwriter cracks a smile at the start of the show.

Dethklok bassist, Bryan Beller, highlighted by the bands intense video backdrop.

Drumer, Gene Hoglan, performing a wild solo near the end of Dethklok's show.

Guitarist, Mike Keneally, shreds during a solo at breakneck speed.


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