I can't stand listening to the radio anymore because the music industry just doesn't seem to get it. Locally there's only one rock station left, and all I hear are the same 20 some-odd tunes played over and over again. Flip the station and I'm barraged with 'today's greatest hits', a selection of tunes that are too simplistic - The same beat is looped from beginning to end, and the 'artists' couldn't hold a note without the likes of some auto-tune software. A bit harsh, I know, but my opinion on the music scene in general is pretty bleak... and that's why metal is my music of choice. I get a sense from the genre that many artists are in it for the music, and the music itself is often able to tell just as much of a story as the vocalist does. That being said, I was highly skeptical when I heard that Cartoon Network was going to introduce Metalocalypse into its Adult Swim lineup. Despite being a fan of CN's late-night programming (Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Sealab, and Space Ghost immediately come to mind), all I could think was, "Oh great, some television network is going to put their clichéd spin on metal for the sake of some television show, probably making the genre even more unpopular than it is now." I now consider myself to be the master of 'insert foot-in-mouth', because not only did Metalocalypse do everything it needed to win me over... it's actually doing a damn good job at making metal popular amongst the masses again.
Metalocalypse follows what's unquestionably the biggest band in the world (on the show), Dethklok, and unlike most metal bands, their name is justified. Every time they make a public appearance, people end up dying. I'm not talking about, like, one or two people getting stomped to death in a mosh-pit either. No, we're talking about a good majority of their attending audience experiencing the most brutal and gruesome deaths imaginable. Whenever a new concert is scheduled, a death clock is indeed ticking for the numerous fans who would literally die to see their favorite band perform live. Despite the chaos that erupts every time the band plays a gig, they're allowed to carry on doing what they do without much of a fuss. Dethklok has so much money, they're considered to be the seventh largest economy in the world, and this grants them carte blanche to do whatever the hell it is they want, whenever they want. An underground group known as The Tribunal have been keeping a close eye on Dethklok as a result however, as they believe the band may be linked to an ancient prophecy that speaks of a 'metal apocalypse'. Furthermore, an anti-Dethklok terrorist group have made their presence known as well. At the end of the last season, The Revengencers were directly responsible for bringing the band's fortress, Mordhaus, to the ground.
After the brutal death of their manager in the attack at Mordhaus, Dethklok is left to fend for themselves financially. Of course, they have zero concept of what the value of a dollar is, so they spend themselves into oblivion. At the beginning of the third season for example, they're rebuilding Mordhaus... in the sky. The record label is seemingly going down with the ship as well, and refuse to let Dethklok play any more shows until they're willing to renegotiate their contract to more favorable terms (for the studio). Feeling the pressure from their success thus far, Dethklok decides to do a little soul searching so they can return to their roots. Their journey this time around leads them through a near-death experience, rehab, issues regarding paternity, and joining a Dethklok tribute band called Thunderhorse. Oh, and did I mention they almost start another World War by double-booking themselves in two places on the same night?
Metalocalypse deserves some applause for going above and beyond the other mini-programs on Adult Swim, by continually pushing an interesting, if not potentially epic story. In this respect, the first two seasons of Metalocalypse delivered unlike any other. Each mini-episode moved the plot along at break-neck speeds, with everything eventually culminating into an explosive season finale where all hell breaks loose. It's hard to imagine that a single viewer walked away from either season dissatisfied, as there's nothing more 'metal' than watching chaos unfold while listening to some brutal riffs. On top of the fictional band being able to pull in some impressive television ratings, they went on to release two head bangin' studio albums, and in support of those albums they even toured with the likes of Chimaira and Mastodon. So, it's no surprise that for the show's third and most recent season, Dethklok has been deemed worthy enough to fill an entire 30 minute timeslot. As a result, only 10 episodes have been produced for the format as opposed to the usual 18 or 20, but with the extended length amongst this batch, we're still spending just as much quality time with the band as ever.
But unfortunately, Metalocalypse loses more than it gains from its timeslot expansion. That's not to say that the show is drastically different than what we've grown accustomed to, because in most respects it's not. The only real difference is that the overall plot is able to develop more organically than it was able to in the past. This is a great idea in theory, but personally, I think the show lost a little of its charm as a result. This is especially true if you're used to watching a bunch of episodes back-to-back. Watching the mini-episodes used to be a rapid-fire experience that always left me hungry for more - My adrenaline would kick on with the show's high octane opening, the episode itself would provide a masterful blend of homage and parody to the world of metal, and once it was over I'd feverishly reach for the remote so I could continue to rock with the band with my horns in the air. But now that Metalocalypse is, in a single sitting, twice as long as it used to be, I'd much rather take a short break in between than to reach for the remote and hit play again.
Don't get me wrong, because I'm not saying that this isn't a solid season of Metalocalypse... it is. I may not think this is the best that Metalocalypse has had to offer thus far (I still think the second season is the best), but I wouldn't say that the show has jumped the shark yet. Dethklok is just as hilariously dumb and brutal as they've always been, their music is still likely to induce the crunching of bones, and every episode looks like it's straight out of the best metal video you've ever seen. Despite my complaints of the third season altering its personality a bit due to the new extended format, there are still plenty of shocking twists and revelations that keep the show just as intriguing as ever, and most of the Klokateers out there in metal-land will undoubtedly be satisfied enough to tune in to the next season. If you're a fan of the series you might as well jump into the latest season with both feet, because you're not likely to be disappointed.
Metalocalypse rocks its way onto Blu-ray for the first time with a rather stunning 1080p, VC-1 encode (1.78:1). To put it bluntly, this is the best the show has ever looked, and I can't imagine it ever looking better than it does on this release. Although the season 2 DVD looked amazing, this Blu-ray blows it out of the water. Edges are flawlessly defined, contrast and black levels are immaculate, color reproduction is eye popping, and no digital enhancements have been utilized to 'improve' the picture. None of this comes as any surprise however, as the show is made with flash animation, and I assume transferring the source onto the Blu-ray format was a piece of cake. The only minor quibbles I have with this release is because of the flash animation process however. There are some shots on occasion that can look a little softer than the rest, and there's some aliasing that can be seen as well. Other than that, Metalocalypse looks perfect in high-def. Don't even bother questioning if the upgrade from DVD is worth it: It is.
Presented in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, the third season of Metalocalypse sounds quite a bit better than broadcast, but I'm surprised the show's mix wasn't as brutal as I thought it would be in its lossless form. The music sequences are certainly heavy hitting and the dialogue is always easy to understand, but directional audio is where this release takes a hit. The rears weren't used as often as I would have thought, a surprise considering how every episode could make great use out of them. When they were utilized however, the directionality was convincing enough but I wouldn't exactly say it offered pinpoint precision. Most disappointing of all, such a 'metal' show as this could have used the LFE to punch me in the face... but it didn't.
That being said, this is still the best Metalocalypse has ever sounded. It's a vast improvement over the DVD, and it isn't even fair to compare this to what these episodes sounded like during their initial run on television. I had some pretty high expectations that weren't met, and perhaps that's my fault. All in all, fans of the show shouldn't walk away disappointed in the least, especially considering they can now hear the members of Dethklok spew their vulgarity without censorship!
The supplemental package is impressive enough, but I think a lot more could have been offered. First up is a bunch of deleted or extended scenes:
-Dimmu Burger Drive Thru
-"Places" with Face Bones
-Klokateer Recruitment Videos 1-4
-Two Swedish Dads Extended Cut
Unlike most other television releases in the home video market, these deleted/extended scenes are actually pretty hilarious and worth checking out... for the most part. "Places" and the Klokateer Recruitment Videos failed to make me even crack a grin. But the worst offender of all?
-Nathan Reading Shakespeare's "Othello"
This skit is a whopping 40 minutes of Nathan Explosion reading this classic... in his own way, of course. He starts off by saying he thinks that 'Othello' is a candy bar, and continually breaks away from the story to add his own input. There are plenty of one-liners from Nathan that stand out, sure, but do we really need to see Nathan standing in a recording booth for 40 minutes doing this bit? Couldn't someone have used some editing software to trim this down to about five minutes or so? I can't imagine a single audience member at home actually sitting through this entire thing but... best of luck to you anyway!
The best extras this set has to offer is undoubtedly the collection of five Dethklok Music videos:
-Burn the Earth
-Black Fire Upon Us
Having five full length animated videos in support of some their greatest tunes is pretty sweet, but this release could have used some of the live action footage that was undoubtedly recorded when the 'real' Dethklok was touring in support of their full length albums. I missed out on seeing them live, as I'm sure many Metalocalypse fans have, and seeing what the live performance is like would have been a priceless addition.
All in all, the extras here are above and beyond what I've typically come to expect from anything off of Adult Swim, but somebody dropped the ball here. Where's the footage of Dethklok performing live? Where are the 'making of' supplements? They're certainly not here.
Yeah, I'm not as big of a fan of the 30 minute format as I thought I would have been, but the third season of Metalocalypse is still kicking ass and taking names. If you've been a fan of the show during the first two seasons, there's no question in my mind that you'll be just as pleased with this batch of episodic offerings. The A/V is a huge leap forward from broadcast and DVD, making the question of which version of this season to buy a no-brainer: Go HD, or go back home cryin' to your mama. I would have liked to have seen some real behind-the-scenes stuff offered in the supplemental package however, or perhaps even some live concert footage of Dethklok doing their thang. That being said, this is still an easy release for me to highly recommend to everyone. If you haven't taken part of the Metalocalypse yet, you're in for one hell of a ride.