ReviewsDethklok - Dethalbum IV (WaterTower Music)

Dethklok – Dethalbum IV (WaterTower Music)

Undoubtedly a force that provided a number of people with their first metal experience in the mid 2000s to early 2010s, Metalocalypse ran on Cartoon Network and detailed the exploits of the world’s biggest heavy metal band (or band in general), Dethklok. An exciting show that gave metal fans a bunch of easter eggs, copious amounts of gore, laugh-out loud humor, and bludgeoning metal from Dethklok themselves. But at the same time, it gave outsiders a glimpse into heavy metal itself – those who may have avoided the genre could easily check out the show and get something out of it’s absurd yet genuine heavy metal premise. It was sad for many when Adult Swim cancelled the series, even denying the crowdfunding act that occurred in 2015 as a last-ditch effort to save it. Creator Brendon Small himself stated he was done with Dethklok not long after. So it was with some cautious optimism that rumblings of new Dethklok and Metalocalypse material was surfacing back in 2021. But here we sit in 2023 with a movie soon to be released (Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar), a tour with Babymetal this fall, and not one, but two albums on the horizon (one of which being the soundtrack to said movie).

Dethalbum IV is the subject of this review, and it carries with it the distinguished pedigree of the Dethalbums before it. The knack that Dethklok has been able to accomplish on disc (as well as the live arena) is to deftly manage being heavy enough for the ‘dyed in the wool’ death metal fanbase to appreciate, and still keep it somehow accessible to a wider audience (to a point at least, as Small’s vocals are just as ‘deathly’ as ever – no one is expecting this to land on pop radio). Both factors are equally present on Dethalbum IV. One could argue that the band sounds more akin to a melodic death metal act, though it’s quite certain that an angry mob with pitchforks would chase this scribe for such a remark. That said, the groove and persistence of each track holds up. Each track keeps it on the catchier side of things, from Hoglan’s dominating presence behind the drumkit, Small’s quickly identifiable (and quite intelligible) roars, to the melodic guitarwork that keeps things surprisingly playful for a death metal album. Whether it’s the gorgeous leads and thundering groove on “Horse on Fire” or the fist-pumping frenzy of “Bloodbath,” any newcomers to the act will be pleasantly surprised at how well-crafted and song-oriented Dethklok sounds, while veteran fans will instantly agree that it hits the high-water marks of the material before it. The intensity is there, even with the melodic slant, and tracks like “Poisoned by Food” and the opening “Gardener of Vengeance” nail that tone that the band has long championed.

After a notable absence, it’s with great pleasure that the metal community can welcome back Dethklok. With this resurgence, the hope is that they can expose a new generation to extreme metal in a way that no other band can. But for the death metal community, you don’t even need to be a fan of Metalocalypse to appreciate the catchy tunes that Dethklok provides. Something that makes Dethalbum IV an even stronger release over all, and worth seeking out for extreme music lovers.

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