Who says a cartoon band can’t pack the Hollywood Palladium? As the band behind the larger-than-life animated death metal group in Comedy Central’s Metalocalypse, Dethklok proved their real life worth during a ruckus Thursday night show at the famed L.A. venue last week. The real band’s frontman, Brendan Small, is also the show’s creator, and provides voices for several of the Metalocalypse characters. In flesh and blood, the band members on stage were slightly older and less glamorous than their cartoon aliases, but the music had all of the talent and youthful energy of an internationally renowned rock and roll sensation. Typical of people who grew up watching Headbangers’ Ball, Small and his crew have a passion for highly technical metal circa the late 1980s. The diverse crowd at the band’s Palladium stop ate up the complex guitar solos and brutally staccato lyrics, as music videos and clips from the show flashed across the screen behind them. Dethklok itself functioned more as a pit band, with the stage lights dimmed and Small interjecting occasional character comments from cartoon frontman Nathan Explosion, cartoon lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf, and Pickles, the Wisconsin-accented cartoon drummer, all of which he voices in the show.
Metalocolypse can be aptly described as a dark comedy, a light parody of the debauched behavior and functional ineptitude that so many metal bands have been known for. The characters are all involved in a dark subplot involving an end-of-days prophecy in which the band is unwittingly the key component. Despite the fact that they never seem to kill anyone intentionally, multiple characters die brutal deaths in every episode – which the band thinks is pretty metal. Somehow, Small and Tony Blacha, the show’s co-creator, always manage to make Metalocolypse‘s gory fare humorous, and its farcical nature rivals that of Gwar or Cannibal Corpse. Those who ventured to the Palladium last week had the opportunity to enjoy, amongst other presentations, the blood and guts strewn cartoon music video of “Murmaider” on the monstrous video screen with live band in the background. Some people may be put off by the sort of material played, but the crowd was appreciative, and people in the mosh pit were happy and courteous, willingly picking up their fellow moshers when they took a spill.