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 V.15 No.32 | August 10 - 16, 2006 

Idiot Box

If It’s Too Loud, You’re Too Old

“Metalocalypse” on Cartoon Network

The way I see it, Cartoon Network’s Sunday night showcase of mature-minded cartoons--known far and wide as Adult Swim--is something akin to Bell Labs in the ’60s. It’s sort of an experimental haven in which radical new ideas are carried out--sometimes with disastrous results, sometimes with earth-shattering import. You never know what will result from this mad tinkering, but occasionally you end up with a carbon dioxide laser ... or an episode of “The Venture Brothers.”

Now, Cartoon Network has unleashed another bold experiment on its unsuspecting viewers. “Metalocalypse” is the world’s first death metal cartoon--a show you can bust a gut and bang a head to at the same time. “Metalocalypse” is the warped brainchild of Brendon Small (creator and star of the Adult Swim series “Home Movies”) and Tommy Blancha (former writer for “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” and one-time “creative director” for World Wrestling Entertainment--now that’s a résumé).

Taking at least an initial cue from This is Spinal Tap, “Metalocalypse” introduces us to the heaviest of heavy metal bands, Dethklok. The group is populated by such personalities as singer Nathan Explosion, lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf, guitarist Toki Wartooth, bassist William Murderface and Pickles (the drummer with the dreadlock comb-over).

As the most popular band on the face of the Earth, Dethklok is able to pull off ridiculous stunts such as drawing several thousand fans to the Arctic Circle just to hear them play a 30-second jingle for a coffee company. The members of Dethklok has also managed to cause more death, destruction and scandal than any other celebrities in recorded history. Thanks to their hard-rocking ways (and general star-driven cluelessness), Dethklok has been involved in countless publicity stunts gone wrong. Like the time they inadvertently caused the moon to be pulled out of its rotational alignment. Or that brief collaboration with the London Philharmonic that ended, accidentally, in the slaughter of the entire orchestra.

Copying its style from innumerable heavy metal album covers, “Metalocalypse” boasts a look that is all skulls, axe-blades and Celtic tattoos. Of course, everything is taken to an absurd degree. It’s tempting to say that metal fans will be entranced, but it probably depends on their sense of humor. “Metalocalypse” seems equally suited to people who hate death metal, what with its ceaseless mocking of the genre.

Creator Brendon Small voices head headbanger Nathan Explosion and writes all of the show’s “Cookie Monster-meets-Metallica” tunes. The songs are convincingly crunching and, if you can pick out the words, they’re pretty funny. Of course, understanding anything anybody in this show says is a bit of a chore. Since nearly all the characters are muttering, raspy-voiced Scandinavians, it’s often hard to pick out the punch lines. Which, in and of itself, is sort of a punch line.

“Metalocalypse” is, without a doubt, for select tastes. It’s basically the GWAR of cartoons. If you know what that means, this may be just the toon for you.

“Metalocalypse” airs every Sunday night at 11:45 p.m. on Cartoon Network.

 
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