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Dethklok - "Metalocalypse Season 2" (DVD)

Dethklok - "Metalocalypse Season 2" DVD cover image

"Metalocalypse Season 2" track listing:

1. Dethecution
2. Dethlessons
3. Dethvengeance
4. Dethdoubles
5. Dethfashion
6. Cleanso
7. P. R. Klok
8. Dethwedding
9. Dethcarraldo
10. Dethgov
11. Dethrace
12. The Revengencers
13. Klokblocked
14. Dethsources
15. Dethdad
16. Snakes N Barrels II: Part 1
17. Snakes N Barrels II: Part 2
18. Dethrecord
19. Dethrelease: Part 1
20. Dethrelease: Part 1

Reviewed by on January 23, 2009

"Epic, cataclysmic, gory mayhem. If you're into anything more savage than Tool, you'll probably find this a great premise."

After having the privilege to watch forty straight episodes of Metalocalypse I swore a vow to true metal which should be simple enough to keep. If my body is ever bisected by a huge spinning chunk of plate glass so that my head and torso slide down to the pavement and put me at eye level with my still standing, blood spurting legs and loins, I vow to spend the last five seconds of my life making devil horns with my hands and screaming "METAL!!!" at horrified bystanders.

The second season of Metalocalypse is unsurprisingly similar to the first. It's got the same dry, overblown character based comedy, showers of hyper detailed gore, metal obsessed in-jokes, and the same extremely uneven way it delivers on its brilliant comic promise. But it's gotten better at playing with its own formula, and it might keep me from wasting the best five seconds of my life, for whatever that's worth.

The foundation of pretty much every episode works exactly like the next one in line, which is something that quickly becomes evident after watching forty episodes in a row. Dethklok, the world's most popular metal band, blunder into a situation they misunderstand. Problems snowball while Dethklok bicker co-dependently, until the plot is resolved by epic, cataclysmic, gory mayhem. If you're into anything more savage than Tool, you'll probably find this a great premise.

Strangely, the problem isn't with the similar themes from episode to episode. This is a cartoon, and it only takes a sentence to describe an average plot from most cartoon series. The problem comes in when writer Brendon Small tries to cram the plots into Metalocalypse's fifteen minute time slot, which very rarely works.

There's easily enough material in every fifteen minute episode to make a full half hour. Instead, plots are almost always set up and then abandoned just when things go crazy. In "Dethcarraldo," for instance, the band travels to the Amazonian rain forest because they saw a TV special about psychedelic drugs used by Amazonian shamans. They're tailed by their military nemesis General Crozier, and they've got a private army for backup, then but not much happens. Everyone gets captured by headhunters pretty much immediately upon reaching the Amazon, and they're all forcibly dosed with psychedelic snuff. As the hallucinations start, the credits roll. They're freaky, brutal hallucinations that are immensely fun to watch once or twice, but it's not hard to see great comic possibilities with five pig-ignorant metalhead billionaires getting stoned out of their minds with indigenous headhunters. This kind of imbalance in the episode structure happens all the time, and it's the main reason Metalocalypse is only a good show, rather than a great one.

For the first time, this second season features a pair of half-hour episodes, and they're by far the best ones Metalocalypse has ever had to offer. It's not that they're different in kind from the fifteen-minute shorts, but there's a lot more going on and exponentially more tension for the climax to exploit.

"Snakes and Barrels pt. 2” begins with a hilarious extended scene where Pickles the Drummer interrogates the band's manager about who owns the copyright to his old band's name, eventually going on a lamp-breaking spree when he doesn't like the answers. The manager's deadpan, blasé delivery makes him the perfect foil to the fiasco around him, especially when the rest of the band enter and start to loudly bitch about never getting invited to the "lamp meetings.” Five minutes in, the episode hasn't even told us its premise, and its way funnier because it takes its time. When everything goes haywire in classic Metalocalypse style there are a number of fully developed subplots that all explode at once, which makes the episode feels far more successful as a result.

The two DVDs comprising the twenty episode season contain abundant extra scenes accessed through the disc menu by selecting the band members' glowing red eyes. Most of them aren't worth watching twice as they're only thrown-off vignettes with one joke that gets old fast. The extra twenty-five minutes of Nathan Explosion ineptly reading from Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus is arguably worth killing yourself to avoid. Then again, since the major humor in the scene comes from the fact that you're actually sitting through something so monotonously unwatchable, the suicide thing is probably your call.

Two hilarious deleted scenes from the episodes are also available on the DVD. They only offer more of the same, but they're notable because they don't censor the profane dialogue with guitar noises, unlike the properly aired episodes. That feature makes the show a lot more natural as the network's censorship in Metalocalypse has always felt forced and annoying, because if anyone is going to swear copiously, it's this band.

Metalocalypse won't develop a bigger following unless it finds a thirty minute time slot. Because the plots are so crammed and undeveloped, the second-season episodes still feel somewhat gimmicky, and it's unlikely that non-metalheads will sit through two episodes in their lives. But if you're really sold on the idea of a lame concert getting destroyed by a fifty-foot tall saber tooth demon bunny rabbit, this season's unlikely to disappoint you.

Highs: Brilliantly brutal sight gags and zany, detailed characterization.

Lows: The high-concept plots never fit into the fifteen-minute time slots.

Bottom line: It's long past time for metal to get this kind of fanservice, even if the show's hardly perfect.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)