Monday, November 11, 2013

Dethklok - The Doomstar Requiem: A Klok Opera (2013)

It could be said that Dethklok have always been living a double life. Sure, they are the world's biggest band in the fictional world of their cartoon series, Metalocalypse. But they transcended those four walls, and found a home for themselves in the real world, leading to sold out tours and top selling albums along the way. Their fans stretch far and wide - the world over, in fact - something that even series creator Brendon Small couldn't have possibly predicted. With the series completed through it's fourth season on Cartoon Network, a one hour special was, allegedly, going to bring the entire story to an end, following metal's greatest anti-heroes to their victory... or doom. Taking the form of a grandiose metal rock opera, "The Doomstar Requiem" is well beyond the vision and reach of anything Small has concocted to date. Teamed with award winning composer Bear McCreary, who is most famous for his orchestral work on Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead, Small went beyond the straight death metal roots of the world's seventh largest economy, and created something as massive and epic as the band itself.

Let it be said first, "The Doomstar Requiem" is not a fourth Dethklok album; it is the soundtrack to the mini-movie itself, something that must be understood before ever pressing play. There are a slew of highlights scattered throughout the disc, with some heavy and hard hitting as you would expect. But focusing mainly on story and exposition, you won't find very many instances of true brutality. It follows the band on their mission to, eventually save Toki from the clutches of the masked man and Magnus Hammersmith. Thus, you follow the band through the spectrum of emotions, or at least as much as they can convey. The tongue in cheek tracks, like "How Can I Be a Hero?" and "Givin' Back to You" (which amounts to a brilliantly played parody of Michael Jackson's "Thriller") are enjoyable in the scope of the special itself, but seem less so without the visual element. Outside of the heavier edged tracks, the album's highlight comes in the form of "Abigail's Lullabye," with her voiced provided by none other than McCreary's wife, the magnificent Raya Yarbrough. She sings as sweetly as any voice you've heard in your life, only with a lyrical edge ("They'll cut off our veins") that makes for a humorous contrast.

Where "The Doomstar Requiem" succeeds is in Small feeding his inner artist, something that many fans of the show and the band won't understand if they come to this disc unprepared. Together, Samll and McCreary have penned a masterpiece that extends well beyond the Metalocalypse universe. That says a lot, given the popularity that both have amassed in their careers. Fans of the show, or even Dethklok as a band, will most definitely find something to enjoy on this soundtrack, and in the special in general. But those who have avoided all contact with their work to this point should also invest the time in listening. Buried after the waves of parody, rock opera, and death metal, you have a nearly twenty four minute piece that sums up the show, it's scope, and the talents of all involved. It is in the title track, "The Doomstar Requiem," that Small and McCreary create their masterpiece. Sweeping orchestra melodies, dark tones, and a taste for the theatrical combine to form a potent mix. And that is what this disc, and this opera, are all about.


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