Toki: "Look. The wol-e-ves eat him."
Skwisgaar: "Yes, Toki, and his body will nourish the wolves."
Toki: "I believe the cycle of learning is complete."
Skwisgaar: "Indeeds. Alls of us should learns a lesson."
Pickles: "Yeah... and what lesson might that be?"
Skwisgaar: "I has no idea. But it's pretty metal that he's being eaten, look at that, right there."

American cartoon series, created by Brendan Small and Tommy Blacha in 2006. Created for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block, the program is an 11-minute Flash cartoon.

Cast members include Small as Nathan Explosion, Skwisgaar Skigelf, and Pickles the Drummer, Blacha as Toki Wartooth and William Murderface, Mark Hamill as Senator Stampingston, and Victor Brandt as General Krosier. The program has attracted a number of guest stars from heavy metal bands, including James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett from Metallica, Kim B. Petersen (better known as King Diamond), George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher from Cannibal Corpse, Michael Amott from Arch Enemy, and Jeff Loomis, Steve Smyth, and Warrel Dane from Nevermore. The guest stars generally play very non-metal roles -- Hammett, for instance, plays the Queen of Denmark in one episode, and Fisher plays a "Depressed Fool's Cap Hippie" in another.

Murderface: "What are those wooden things? Chairs?"
Barkeeper: "They are acoustic instruments."
Toki: "What is acoustic? Oh! You mean a grandpa's guitars?"
Skwisgaar: "A grandpa's guitars? That's for pussies and grandpas, I think you know it."
Barkeeper: "It's your only choice, I'm afraid."
Pickles: "Whoa, this is a tough one, guys."
Nathan: "Pickles is right, we have a tough choice. Playing acoustic is totally lame and not metal. But then again, if we don't put that troll back to sleep, we may never be able to check our e-mail with high speed DSL again."

What's it all about? Imagine your happiest dream of the ultimate perfect world: namely, the world's most popular and powerful musical performers, with incomes that make them the 12th largest economy in the world, are a death metal band. Dethklok consists of brooding, growling vocalist Nathan Explosion, Swedish guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf (the fastest guitarist in the world), Norwegian guitarist Toki Wartooth (the second-fastest guitarist in the world), self-loathing bassist William Murderface, and balding, dreadlocked drummer, Pickles the Drummer. They are supported by their seemingly straitlaced, secretly badass business manager, Charles Foster Ofdensen.

How popular is Dethklok? They make attendees of their concerts sign releases absolving the band of any fault from the deaths and injuries that plague the band's shows -- not only do the fans eagerly sign the releases, but they happily show off the mutilations they received at previous Dethklok shows. They live in a gigantic dragon-shaped mansion called Mordhaus staffed with hundreds of executioner-hooded employees who are also happy to die in the service of the band they love. Hell, in the first episode of the cartoon, Dethklok records a jingle for Duncan Hills Coffee, and Duncan Hills becomes so popular that every other coffee company in the world goes out of business overnight.

Skwisgaar: (referring to Toki's performance, during a recording session) "Just let me record it. Each take gets worse. He's slowly learning how to unplay the guitar."
Toki: "I can hear that, the talkback mic is on."
Skwisgaar: "Pickles, please let me know when the talkback mic is on, so 'Mr. Sensitives' don'ts goes to crysbaby's house for vacation."
Toki: "I can stills hear you."
Skwisgaar: "So what do you want, a 'Be Able to Hear Things' award?"
Toki: "Eh, not really, doesn't sound like a great award, to be honest."

Of course, things aren't perfect for Dethklok. For one thing, they're all idiots. They're all paralyzed by various insecurities, from worries about their health to unresolved problems with their families to concerns that they have no place in the greatest band in the universe. And of course, there's the problem that they're only competent at playing heavy metal and renegotiating their contracts. Play acoustic? They can't do it. Raise a child? They can't do it. Tell jokes? They can't do it. Compete in a celebrity spelling bee? Oh, please. Make a sandwich? They can't do that either. Despite their crashing ineptitudes, Dethklok is closely monitored by a shadowy cadre of powerful leaders from around the world who fear the band's ever-growing power. Will they ever do anything other than review the band's latest escapades on oversized video screens, nod sagely, and make ominous pronouncements? Only time will tell...

So what makes it worth watching? Well, obviously, it's funny as hell. From Toki's and Skwisgaar's fractured English and Murderface's inner douchebaggery to Pickles' near-normality and Nathan's pitch-perfect death-metal moping, these are people who should be, at best, a locally popular band somewhere in the Midwest, and at worst, all dead. The fact that they are considered the most important cultural force the world has ever seen is just gravy. The band keeps trying to do things that death metal bands just should never do, like birthday parties and employee evaluations and stand-up comedy and doing infomercials and raising horrific trolls from their deathless slumbers.

Toki: (discussing whether Dethklok is getting burned out on darkness) "So what you're saying is we do the opposite of bleak and dark."
Nathan: "Yeah."
Toki: "What's the opposite of tragedy?"
Nathan: "COMEDDDDDDDY!"

But the show wouldn't be worth watching if it was just about bashing heavy metal bands -- and the fact is that a lot of metal fans love this show. Brendan Small has said that he's a big fan of metal, and while the show makes light of the attitudes and extremes of metalheads, it's very affectionate comedy. A lot of that comes from giving metal fans what they want -- when Nathan has a dream about the band dying in gruesome ways, it's shown in gory detail. Bloody, violent deaths are an important part of the show -- it gives the metalheads a chance to stand up in front of their televisions and yell, "BRUTAL!"

Even better is the fact that the music rocks. "Briefcase Full of Guts," "Murdertrain A-Comin'," "Birthday Dethday," "Sewn Back Together Wrong" "Awaken Mustakrakish," "Hatredy," and even the Duncan Hills jingle all sound like they could've come straight off a death metal CD. It's awesome to have a show so metal that viewers can headbang through the opening and closing credits.

Toki: "Ah, cool, you gots a new shipment of custom guitar!"
Skwisgaar: "Yeah, this is uh, some designs I'm messing around with, uh, this one is, um, Swiss Army-tar. It's a good guitar for a camping trip. It's got toothpick."
Pickles: "Yeah, good tone. What's that one right there?"
Skwisgaar: "Uhh, is just an antfarm-itar. They still workings on it."
Murderface: "Niiiice! I'd like to stand on that thing."
Pickles: "Yeah, I'd stand on that."
Skwisgaar: "Ja, and this is the Gibson Excalibur-tar, ya know. And here's my guitar made from the wood of Christ's cross."
Murderface: "Awww, get ready for a billion e-mails. Here comes the offended religious weirdos."
Skwisgaar: "What's offensive about the most religious instrument ever?"

Bits of random, fun trivia: Despite being completely fictional, Dethklok officially endorses Krank amps, Gibson guitars, EMG pickups, and Line 6 musical gear. Their song "Thunderhorse" is an unlockable track on Guitar Hero II, and an album of full-length Dethklok songs called the Dethalbum was released in 2007 -- it debuted at #21 on the Billboard charts, making it the highest charting album by a death metal band ever. Originally, the cartoon and the band were going to be named Deathclock, but it turned out that that name was already taken, so the band's name was changed to Dethklok, with the program being renamed "Death Clock Metalocalypse." It was finally shortened down to just "Metalocalypse," a name so weird that, for weeks, I couldn't stop calling it "Metalocalocalapokalypse."

Toki: "I... have a confessions to makes. I can't read music."
Skwisgaar: "Dude, Toki can't read music. Ha, it's a laugh."
Toki: "Can you?"
Skwisgaar: "No. I have music dyk-slexia. You know that, I... don't wish to talk about it."
Nathan: "Wait, then how were -- how were you playing that song?"
Toki: "Honestly, I was just hitting any note."
Skwisgaar: "Yeah, me too. That's an old music school trick."
Nathan: "Sounded pretty good."
Skwisgaar: "Yeah, I know sounds pretty good."

Research:
http://www.adultswim.com/shows/metal/
http://www.myspace.com/dethklok
The Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com)
http://www.tv.com/metalocalypse/show/62049/summary.html
http://thephoenix.com/article_ektid18997.aspx

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