Released Oct. 29th on BS Records
Given the premise of Metalocalypse—that the band Dethklok is the greatest cultural force on Earth—and how prominently Brendan Small’s faux-death metal compositions feature in episodes, it’s surprising that it took until after the fourth season for the show to do a musical special. I’m pretty behind on the the show; I haven’t watched season 4 nor the hour-long Doomstar Requiem special, so I feel underqualified to comment on the soundtrack album. I have, however, kept up with Small’s Dethalbums (see my review of Dethalbum III), and while those seem to have grown further from parody into actual death metal, The Doomstar Requiem is ripped right from the show.
This album is quite a different beast than the three Dethalbums that preceded it. While those were Dethklok records, The Doomstar Requiem stars pretty much the entire Metalocalypse cast of characters. Only one track, closer “Blazing Star”, is solely a Dethklok number. While the Dethalbums often expanded on song ideas written for the show, they didn’t have a unifying narrative. As an hour-long rock opera, The Doomstar Requiem tells a story, one in which Dethklok must rescue rhythm guitarist Toki Wartooth from the hands of their enemies. Along the way we learn more about Dethklok’s backstory, such as how Toki joined the band and what became of Magnus Hammersmith, the spurned guitarist he replaced.
As a full-blown metal rock opera, The Doomstar Requiem engages in operatics that really suit the tone of the show: duets, electronics, and orchestral flourishes all find their place in the production. Tracks like “Magnus and the Assassin”, “The Fans Are Chatting”, and “The Answer Is in Your Past” are full of the excellent death metal we’re used to by now, while many of the other sections segue into big orchestral pomp & circumstance. “The Duel”, in which Toki engages in an epic guitar battle with lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf as his audition, is predictably full of shredding, soaring riffs and solos. Elsewhere there are stylistic left turns, such as the synthpop “Partying Around the World” in which Dethklok engages in all manner of excess in an attempt to deny Toki’s absence, the acoustic ballad “Abigail’s Lullaby” which ruminates on torture, and the boy band pop of “Givin’ It Back to You” in which the band uses their checkbooks to get past a mob of zombie-like musicians and drug addicts. These numbers would sound totally out of place on a Dethklok album, but as a soundtrack to the special they work.
The only real drawback to The Doomstar Requiem is that it’ll only make sense to fans of the show, and thus it’s even less accessible than the Dethalbums. For Metalocalypse fans, however, it should prove extremely satisfying.