By Ben Apatoff Even without the high profile of a deservedly popular animated documentary series, it's easy to see why DETHKLOK have the highest-charting death metal album in U.S. history. Their progressions are as melodic as mid-'80s OZZY, with even funnier lyrics. Nearly every chorus is a shout-along, and no matter how much PICKLES inflicts GENE HOGLAN-worthy punishment on his kit, Dethalbum II sounds like power metal and hard rock songs being subjected to a death metal makeover.
Musically, Dethalbum II is about as different from its predecessor as any pair of PAUL STANLEY originals, but with a few signs of growth. There are longer songs and more instruments, and someone (probably MURDERFACE, whose bass playing is still getting mixed out) learned keyboards just well enough to accentuate the stellar guitar playing. "Bloodlines" pulls an Antichrist Superstar-era MANSON riff out from under SEPULTURA-indebted percussion, resulting in an even better song than the episode that inspired it, and "Murmaider II: The Water God" is a superior sequel, trading the original's A.D.D. for an epic arrangement. As the delivery gets more proficient and self-important, the humor of "I Tamper with the Evidence at the Murder Site of Odin," "Laser Cannon Deth Sentence" is richer than ever. "Dethsupport" is one of the catchiest metal songs you'll hear this year, and it offers a more articulate stance on health care than much of what Congress has been spewing out.
Their first album played like Metalocalypse clips being fleshed out into full-length songs, but Dethalbum II sounds more like it was written for the album itself, with a few great moments being cherry picked for the series. The result may not be something that deserves steal ticket sales from CANNIBAL CORPSE or AMON AMARTH, but it's infectious enough to justify Dethklok's status as the world's 12th-largest economy.
Rating: 3 Tribunals out of 5