So. Back in the year 2000 a Californian named Tim Lambesis who grew up listening to a lot of Megadeth decided that he could totally do that. He founded a moderately boring 21st century metal band called As I Lay Dying. Over the course of 4 studio albums they gained immense popularity and enjoyed the life of a majorly successful t-shirt band.

Since Lambesis could effectively do whatever the hell he wanted, he decided to birth a side project. The vision of the project had two goals. Firstly, to mock and satirize the stereotypically bad metal bands of his generation which he is very much apart of and obliviously perpetuating in As I Lay Dying. And secondly to give playful tribute (not quite the same as parody) to a cultural icon and hero of Lambesis' - Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Wow, doesn't that sound like a terrible idea? Theoretically maybe, but somewhere in the layers upon layers of irony everything somehow cancelled out, and in July 2008 Lambesis' side project and brainchild Austrian Death Machine released a refreshing, hilarious, and remarkably listenable album: Total Brutal.

Between Austrian Death Machine's two LPs and two Christmas EPs, Lambesis has done the lion's share of the work. He takes credit for production/co-production, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, trumpet, oboe, vocals, and songwriting. Though this last credit is sketchy, because most of the lyrics are movie quotes, which I woudld've expected to arouse some copyright issues with Lambesis taking songwriting credit. The other personnel members on the records are the Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonators (Chad Ackerman of Destroy the Runner for the first record and professional impersonator Josh Robert Thompson for the second) and guest musicians who collaborate on a song-by-song basis, contributing brutal, face-melting guitar solos to the songs. These guests include Adam Dutkiewicz, Nick Hipa, Mark MacDonald, Jason Suecof, Andrew Tapley, Jason Barnes, Buz McGrath, Chris Storey, and some other virtuosic and incredibly lame guitarists.

The records themselves alternate between songs and skits, all of which are based around memes and quotes in Arnie(or "Ahnold" or "The Governator" or "The gummy bear of candy cornia")'s life. Double Brutal also has a bunch of 80s thrash metal covers that should be thoroughly avoided. The release of a third record was confirmed in late 2012, and originally slated for a release in Spring or Summer of 2013. Though the future of the project has been reasonably called into question in early May of 2013 when Lambesis was caught trying to pay an undercover detective posing as a hitman to murder his estranged wife and was then arrested on conspiracy charges. I can see where that might impede the progress of one's career.

Anyway, while I don't find Double Brutal to be very impressive (or even amusing), the original album is brutal in a mocking way, funny in a silly way, and enjoyable in a tongue-in-cheek way. If you will, a guilty pleasure where you can't really feel the guilt because you're busy thrashing about your apartment and slamming your head against everything you can find because you have an incredibly spiteful and self-effacing sense of irony. So yeah it's pretty good. In Lambesis' own words, from the liner notes of Total Brutal:

"Everything I put into my other band (As I Lay Dying) is heartfelt and full of passion. This, on the other hand, is an outlet of pure testosterone and stupidity. I hope you're ready... Chances are you already know the words to every chorus, so sing along!"


Discography as of this writeup:
(All albums released under Metal Blade Records. All albums produced by Tim Lambesis, except Total Brutal, produced by Tim Lambesis and Adam Dutkiewicz.)

Total Brutal, 2008
A Very Brutal Christmas, 2008
Double Brutal, 2009
Jingle All the Way, 2011
Triple Brutal, announced, likely to be postponed

Movies referenced:

Pumping Iron, 1979
Conan the Barbarian, 1981
Commando, 1985
Predator, 1987
The Running Man, 1987
Total Recall, 1990
Kindergarten Cop, 1990
Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991
Last Action Hero, 1993
Eraser, 1996
Jingle All the Way, 1996
Batman & Robin, 1997

(*An interesting note: though the main Schwarzenegger figure that seems to be emulated is that of The Terminator, the original movie is never referenced - only the sequel.)

Other subjects:
- Ahnold's history as a bodybuilder
- Ahnold's position as the Governor of California
- Ahnold's reputation as THE GREATEST ACTOH IN THE WORLD
- Stereotypical metal bands and why they suck, though As I Lay Dying is the only one mentioned directly (in jest)

The band doesn't have a website but here's a wikipedia article I looked at.
Sorry for being so judgmental.

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