Venue: Nokia Theater (New York, NY)
Opener: Chimaira, Soilent Green
Label: Williams Street
Dethklok is a Heavy Metal band that is not all that easy to describe using conventional terms but I shall attempt to give it a go. For starters, one needs to realize that the overall power of the band is nothing short of legendary and the impact of their music on the Metal terrain of the imaginary world in which they walk borderlines on the extraordinary. This is pretty powerful stuff when you consider that we are speaking of an animated band from a far away future. Given that, one would have to wonder just how a real life invasion on this plane of existence would be able to come to pass. Fortunately for everyone inside the Times Square Nokia Theater tonight, there would be plenty of time to learn and enjoy just how this was going to be done and the show would find these juggernauts supported by Soilent Green and Chimaira. The popularity of the “Metalokalypse” show on Adult Swim that features Dethklok has proven to be so big that this particular show in New York had been sold out for many weeks in advance and what was interesting to me as an observer was all the wide varieties of Metal fan that were present for this event. You truly had a representation of all different genre fans and that just goes to show how many people this program is reaching. Soilent Green was coming up first and they are usually an interesting act so I made sure to get in place to check them out. Here is how the evening went down should you have missed it.
Soilent Green: The guys in Soilent Green were recently on tour with Death Angel and God Forbid and while that tour still had some dates on it, the SG guys moved on to the tour we’re discussing now so they could help the mighty Dethklok lay waste to a number of venues in the states. For those who still don’t have any background about Soilent Green well the best way to describe them is as a Deathgrind or Sludgecore band that has a lot of deep and heavy groove blended in with a healthy dose of brutality. There is no real format to their style when it comes down to it and as result the sound is unpredictable. It’s not for everyone, but it does seem to go over well and was doing so tonight as they prepared the room for the arrival of Dethklok. The group is now fronted by Ben Falgoust who you might know as the singer for Goatwhore – he is an energetic dude on the stage and really aims to get you into the whole event. He periodically addresses the crowd to incite them into fury and while the room was not yet filled to capacity the assembled crowd was beginning to show signs of circle pit movement. I didn’t catch much of their set list in terms of the titles, but the band has recently signed on to Metal Blade Records after moving on from Relapse Records. Their newest album had just come out on the label and is entitled “Inevitable Collapse In The Presence of Conviction”. I did know that a few songs had come from the release since Falgoust made mention of this but at the time of this writing I have yet to hear the full album and still need a copy. Since they have connections to bands like Eyehategod and Crowbar, the fans of those particular groups should make some time to check them out. The Soilent Green set was shorter than I expected but this does happen when you are the first band up. I did have to say that they went over well and were sure to have sparked some additional interest into the way that they are doing things.
Chimaira: Over the years I had been nothing more than the casual supporter of the band Chimaira and while at times they had impressed me with their output there were other instances where the stuff just didn’t do it for me. This happens when there are so many Metal bands that lock into a particular style and with Chimaira the lock was moving more into a Hardcore vibe while I was moving more into a Melodic Death Metal vibe. This changed with the bands Ferret Records debut “Resurrection” which was released in early 2007 because it was an album that found the band changing up their style to a more melodic approach. They didn’t lose an ounce of the heaviness but clearly had released the most musical album that I had ever heard from them. Like Soilent Green before them, the set for Chimaira would be a short one, but the band was led through the mire with intensity by singer Mark Hunter and guitarist Rob Arnold. Chimaira is interesting because they have a keyboardist on board and while it’s not an unusual role for a Metal band, I don’t always see it in this level of aggressive Metal as much as I see it in the Symphonic level stuff. Hunter has a gaze that can cause you to move cautiously and he and the guys were definitely into it. The crowd was a little thicker now and this was because Dethklok’s arrival was getting closer to happening. They were also getting a little more animated during Chimaira’s set and those few small pits I caught glance of earlier seemed to have had merged into larger ones. “Resurrection” is a really good choice for an album if you want to sink your teeth into what they are doing so please pick it up with our recommendation. Now, it was time for Dethklok and I was super curious about how this was actually going to play out.
Dethklok: Now we all know that Dethklok is an animated cartoon or “virtual band” to make it sound just a little more adult, but of course even this animation has real musicians that bring their sound to life and others who do the voices. The music on the bands show “Metalocalypse” is performed by Brendan Small and for the album he used monster drummer Gene Hoglan. For those who have seen the show, you don’t need me to line out that it has become a blockbuster hit. It pokes fun at the Death Metal genre without any subtlety but seems to do so in a fashion that amuses its fan base as opposed to irritating them. Bringing this to the live stage is obviously very different from doing it for a television show so everyone around me had wondered just what we were going to witness. Would we hear the band tracks played over the PA while actors dressed up as the various characters did the motions or would the stage setting be as garish and imposing as the one we see the group travelling about on for the audiences who witness them during the program? The answer to both of these questions would be no, and the people that we would find performing the music would be Brendan Small (the shows creator), Gene Hoglan (drums), Mike Keneally (guitar) and Brian Beller (bass) but if you thought you would just be watching these guys on the stage performing the tunes we knew from the show, you would need to be corrected as there was a little bit more of an explanation to line out. This concert was about Dethklok and not the guys who made up the band in the real world so while these musicians played in almost complete darkness, the venue had the stage setup with a large screen behind them and while they performed the songs a perfectly in sync animation was being played. It was really clever for them to do it like this, and when you were in a certain section of the venue it almost felt like being at the movies watching the Dethklok show “Metalocalypse”. The performers were tight as could be and I didn’t detect one mishap during the show which was to be commended as the execution of this idea could not have been easy to do. Its not just animation in the background but the musical queues as well as dialogue from about six different characters at any given time. Through the magic of this kind of technology we were all able to feel as though William Murderface, Skwisgaar Swigelf, Nathan Explosion, Pickles, Toki Wartooth and their legal advisor were delivering a bone crushing show for the fans.
If you have ever watched the show you would have recognized most of the material that they were playing and each track had some dialogue between it and an introduction by the band mascot “Facebones”. The mascots skits were designed to give the audience some insight into the behind the scenes antics of the band and about moshing. Nothing like a public service announcement courtesy of a group like Dethklok. Some of this stuff was riotous to experience and one particular segment of the program found the band walking off the stage to find Murderface who ended up being on the toilet. The entire band convened to the bathroom with him and provoked him on why he left in the middle of the song. Soon their legal advisor came in and suggested that they all return to the show since the fans were waiting. Explosion said why should they, as the show was days ago, only to be reminded that it was actually going on now. It was quite amusing to say the least. I also found a lot of entertainment in the crowd chanting “Dethklok” over and over as this was a cartoon and not truly a band that is going to find them super charged up and coming back for more at their bequest. I also never expected to see moshing and crowd surfing going on for this one but it was going on from the very beginning of the band’s set. Small was also voicing tonight and as Nathan Explosion addressed the crowd saying how the band had actually enjoyed themselves for a change and didn’t think they sucked or something along those lines.
Looking back on this one I had to say that it was a fantastic time and I am sure that if the powers that be know what’s good for them that they will repeat this once again. It’s hard enough selling tickets for some shows that are occurring these days but this event tonight was sold out for weeks in advance and there were lines of Metal fans hoping that some additional tickets had opened up that evening. Unfortunately they would leave disappointed when they had found nothing available. I think it would also be smart for this to be released on some form of DVD release. They could easily get away with the exact manner in which the audience was presented the show, or even make it an extended episode of the program and include it as a special feature on the second season boxed set of the “Metalocalypse” show. My view is that if they return once again with this event and up the ante by bringing along an even stronger couple of opening bands that they will be able to sell out a couple of days of this show as opposed to only the one. The adventures and music of Dethklok can be enjoyed on Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network every week so check your area listings or look on the network website. Their CD is available in a standard and deluxe edition and the first season of the show is well worth picking up. I know I shall be there for the next go round should they do one and I already have submitted my pain waiver into the bands management for good measure.
Dethklok Set List:
1. Intro Skit
2. Dethklok Theme
3. Briefcase Full of Guts
4. Birthday Dethday
5. Facebones Skit #1 (Behind The Scenes)
8. Facebones Skit #2 (Moshing)
9. Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle
12. Go Forth and Die
13. Bathroom Skit
18. Go Into The Water
19. Fansong (encore)