I can still remember reviewing the first two Metalocalypse episodes for Toon Zone News and being mildly disappointed with the results. Though the show was humorous at times, it never really struck a chord with me. After hearing that the show not only got better but became one of the “to-watch” shows on Adult Swims (in the group of people I talked to, anyway), I decided to make an effort to at least catch the DVD release and give it a review. My initial feelings toward the show remain unchanged—it’s still a little rough—but I certainly enjoyed watching it more this time around.
Metalocalypse follows the legendary extreme metal band “Dethklok.” Dethklok is the biggest entertainment act in the world and have even grossed enough money to surpass other nation’s revenue. On top of being the largest music band ever, Dethklok is fraught with band problems as well as having their own government alliance working against them, constantly trying to find ways to end the band’s reign of terror.
In the span of twenty episodes (each around ten minutes each), we see the band attempt to make their own dinner to killing an entire orchestra with a giant laser ball. The show pulls a lot of its stories from real-world events and exaggerates them to fit in this deth-metal universe. There were also a couple instances where they seemed to mirror popular rock/metal events, such as Metallica’s hiring of a psychiatrist, and a few other general mirroring of band members leaving and forming their own bands as a result.
Most of the show’s humor comes from the censored language (censored by a guitar rift) and the excessive use of the word “dildos”, which, more often than not, is never used in the context the word was made for. I’m sure I will end up saying “This is dildos.” more often than any one should, but I’ll have the show to blame at least. On top of the dialogue, the music in the show is also quite awesome at times; I love metal music, so watching this show is a nice match for my tastes. Mix in the hilarious lyrics to the songs that you can very seldom understand (watching the show with subtitles will reveal many more lines of dialogue than you would normally notice) and the show is almost always entertaining for the scant ten minutes each episode runs.
There are laughs to be had in every episode and with the varied roles that Mark Hamill plays on the show it’s almost worth watching for that reason alone. Stack guest voices such as James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett of Metallica and you have a solid show to kick back and watch for short bursts—the show certainly won’t win any awards for its first season, but it’s fun to watch regardless. Recommended.
Well the show is great fun to watch, but how about the DVD? I’m actually shocked how poorly put together this set was on the technical side of things, but we’ll get to that in a bit. First up is the excellent packaging which is just a solid black cover with silver lettering. On the back are the four band members, also outlined in silver, along with a description of the show and a brief mention of “exactly one cubic metal ton of hidden Murder features.”An insert for other Wiliam’s Street DVDs is included as well, with the interior art of the set being a nice widescreen shot of their castle, Mordhaus, and blood speckled DVDs.
Perhaps of the handful of disappointments I found with this set it was the video transfer that was the most saddening of all. While the show is in widescreen, this transfer is not; instead it’s a 16×9 image trapped in a letterboxed 4:3 frame. On top of that, the transfer is interlaced so while the colors are crystal clean and clear with little compression most of the time, it’s really quite a shoddy mix when watching it in progressive scan on a widescreen monitor. Audio is a solid 2.0 mix and does its job at keeping everything clean and clear—at least I think it did. I actually had to turn subtitles on for the show about two episodes into it as I was unable to understand the lyrics to the songs or what Toki Wartooth was saying half the time (which is really part of the gag). An interesting note about the subtitles is that it leaves out dialogue at times as well as leaving some of the shows metal music lyrics left out. The oddest occurrence, however, was in the earlier episodes, before the guitar-rift censors for the saltier language, we actually got a fully uncensored subtitle track.
Moving onto the extras we have a fair amount here, but they’re all spread across in one of the more annoying menu set ups since the two-disc Batman Begins DVD. Every extra on the set is an “Easter egg”, with them hidden on the main menus and sub menus of both discs in the set. I cannot even honestly say if I watched everything as I got tired of trying to figure out what I clicked on and what I didn’t, but there is a decent collection of extras here.
The major highlight of the extras is the “Band Interviews” which arrive completely uncensored. The interviews are largely random, with topics on everything from politics to education, but they’re almost more entertaining than the show itself. Murderface steals the show quite a few times in these segments, but he is probably the most outspoken one in the show as well, so that should come as no surprise. Aside from some other uncensored bits from the show (what little nudity there is in the show is unbarred here), these are the only two really “explicit” sets of extras there are on the set.
A tour of Mordhaus (one of the longer extras on the set) is included as well, complete with commentary from the Dethklok mascot. Twenty minutes of Nathan Explosion reciting Shakespeare is here (bet you didn’t expect to see that!) as well as an extended bass solo from Murderface. A few other random extras seem to be deleted scenes from the episode “Skwisklok” a menu from Burzum’s diner and lastly a clip collection of the many kill scenes in the show.
Overall the extras are worth watching, it’s just a bit too much of a chore to figure out if you actually watched them all. For fans of the show this set is definitely Recommended but those unsure about the show should check out some episodes online via the Adult Swim site before deciding to plunk down the cash for this set.
Metalocalypse: Season 1 is now available on DVD.