Sound — 9
The most popular metal band and the driving force of world culture returns, keeping everyone from killing themselves, the economy from failing, and the president from shooting his face off. Well... In the cartoon. For those of you who have been living under a rock, Dethklok is a cartoon-band in the show Metalocalypse on [Adult Swim]. Almost all musical aspects of the "band" are from mastermind Brendon Small. The show is humorous and filled with everything a metalhead could dream of. Even though they aren't a real band, in the sense of the word, they still demolish a very large part of metal bands out there today. But this review isn't about the show. It's about the album. Two years ago, The Dethalbum was released and made it to #21 on the Billboard 200 - making it, essentially, the best selling death metal album. It had a variety of good songs, some better than others. The Dethalbum II returns with a slew of songs from the newer seasons of Metalocalypse, changing them up slightly (adding a riff, making them longer, harmonies etc). A whole lot of them are catchy as hell. The band has been labeled as "melodic death metal", and they for the most part focused on harmonies, double bass, and monotone gurgling of vocals last album. They haven't changed for the worse by any means, but have vastly improved. They aren't changing the genre at all. As a matter of fact, they're on the line seperating them from paying homage to the death metal scene and mocking it. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter, because they did make one hell of a good album here. The drums aren't mic'd as perfectly as you might hear in other albums by other bands, and Brendon Small REALLY likes to use the neck pickup on almost all of the solos. The bass, as almost all metalheads know, is "seen but not heard". If you mess with the EQ and stuff, I suppose you CAN hear it, but it doesn't cut through in the mix for almost the entire album. The drums are without a doubt have triggered double bass pedals. You can hear a talent though, with his swapping between crashes and bells really rapidly every now and then. Not too inventive, and undoubtedly inspired by Dave Lombardo, they aren't mindless blast beats and double bass. Dehtklok isn't really about the drums, though. Honestly, they are a complement to the guitars and vocals. A breakdown of how loud everything is in the final mix of it - Vox: 9. Guitar: 10. Drums: 7. Bass: 5. Brendon also recently discovered phase shifter pedals, and uses them pretty often for the guitar lines and even some vocals ("Burn the Earth"). It sounds cool, but it seems more novelty than truly contributing to the song. You get used to it. The guitars, as most can guess, are downtuned quite a bit. C Standard, namely - 2 full steps down on each string. Not a bad thing, since that's how detuned a lot of death metal bands are, and it captures the heaviness they're imitating. The guitars are tracked a LOT, too. In "Black Fire Upon Us", you can hear a rhythm guitar playing some power-chords and palm mutes, you can hear a harmony of two guitars playing something high in the background, all the while there's another guitar over that. Sounds cool, for the most part, albeit a little unrealistic. But hey, this is a cartoon-band after all, right? The sound isn't the best, but it is by no means bad. It's difficult to point them all out, but they barely hurt the feel of the album.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics, in case you can't guess, are 100% joking. They range from capital punishment using a laser beam ("Laser Cannon Deth Sentence") to nonsensical apocalyptic descriptions ("Burn the Earth"), and even hitting euthenasia for a song ("Dethsupport"). It's all over the place with "brutal" lyrics and pure gore. And it is great. The music is dark, and the lyrics are dark. Tada. It's a part of what makes death metal death metal. The singer, Nathan Explosion (Brendon Small, of course) was previously denounced for his monotone belches and no variation whatsoever. While he doesn't abandon them, they rather add in the slightly high-pitched death metal screams, such as those featured inconsistently in Cannibal Corpse songs. They aren't as rare, but they are a very welcome change to vocal monotony previously displayed. Also, he features somethings you don't really find in other metal singers. One example is the near-staccato growling in "Laser Cannon Deth Sentence" - "D-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-die." It doesn't look good on paper, I'm sure, but it sounds really interesting (in a good way).
Overall Impression — 10
Concluding, it's leaps and bounds over the first Dethalbum. In continues in the same vein, but pushes the "band's" former, generic boundaries. It's really difficult to pinpoint single good songs from the album, because they are all so good in their own ways. I suppose if I would have to say what one of the worst is, in my opinion, it'd be "The Cyborg Slayers". But that's like seeing a batch $100 bills on the ground and leaving one because it's dirtier than the others. It's still great. No album is without flaws, of course. Some of the timings on here are kind of odd, ie. The trem picking in "Bloodlines" being almost interrupted by the singing at a few points. Some of it can get repititious. The songs can blend together, to the unadapted ear. But these become minor qualms, and don't demote the greatness that Brendon Small managed to create, practically single-handedly. It is said best by Dick Knubbler in the episode "Dethwater": "The drums ROCKED!!! The bass, ROCKED!!! And the guitars, ROCKED!!!!!" His eyes then exploded while rising too high in a submarine, being chased by an infected monsterous seahorse to the song "Thunderhorse". ... You'll get that feeling a lot during this album. If it was stolen from me... Well, I uploaded it to my computer so it wouldn't matter. But I would go out and get it again. And again. And again. This is definitely one to pick up for all metalheads, and even those who aren't. Take out the 'horns and hold them high. Dethklok is back.