If you're not already aware, Adult Swim's Metalocalypse follows the exploits of Dethklok, the Earth's most popular heavy metal band. This band is so popular that they've become one of the largest economies in the world and when this fourth season begins, their new album is about to launch. They fly around in a gigantic metal helicopter and employ thousands of hooded minions, dubbed 'the Klokateers,' to cater to their every whim while lounging around their compound, Mordhaus. When they're not delivering huge concerts to thousands upon thousands of fans (at various locations around the world - they are a truly global phenomena) who are willing to put their lives at risk or recording the most brutal albums in history, they're generally hanging around playing video games, relaxing in the hot tub together, or drinking - though it should be noted that this fourth season introduces a new favorite past time, that being 'jacking off.'
The band is made up of five members: vocalist and lyrical genius Nathan Explosion (voiced by co-creator and co-writer Brendon Small), second fastest guitar player in the world Toki Wartooth (voiced by co-creator and co-writer Tommy Blacha), the hateful bass player William Murderface (Blacha), fastest guitar player in the world Skwisgaar Skwigelf (Small), and former 'Snakes N Barrels' member Pickles the drummer (Small). Each band member has his own unique personality, whether it be Murderface's penchant for war and women hating, Toki's love of coke snorting clowns, Skwisgaar's holier-than-thou attitude and incredibly condescending manners, Pickle's penchant for booze and drugs or Nathan's love of all things brutal. Individually, they are strong, but as Dethklok, they are unstoppable!
So powerful are they that a covert group made up of powerful military types like General Krosier (Victor Brandt), Senator Stampington (Mark Hamill) and Vater Orlaag (Malcolm McDowell) have joined together to monitor Dethklok's every move. They know that if they don't periodically interfere that the band will become even more powerful than they already are and seeing as they're already the seventh strongest economy on the planet, they don't want that, particularly as it looks more and more like Dethklok could very well bring about the end of the world - and in this fourth season, now featuring awesome narration from none other than Werner Herzog, it looks like they're going to do just that. It's also worth noting that although the series switched from twelve minute episodes to longer twenty-one minute episodes for its third season, for this fourth shot the producers have gone back to the eleven minute format.
The episodes in this set, which make up the complete third season of the show, are presented in the following order:
Fanklok: As the band once again returns to Earth, Nathan lets loose the shocking information that he is romantically involved with a female fan. Meanwhile, Murderface decides to take up smoking and tries to get the rest of the band to join in. All of this ends poorly when the band figure out that Nathan's girlfriend has a very strange past.
Diversityklok: Nathan tries to cash in on his own personal catchphrase - 'That's doable' - and has it printed up on hats and other trinkets, but this soon gets pushed to the wayside when the band is accused of being racist. Murderface's moustache starts to take on a life of its own and Toki decides that he's tired of the band pushing him out of the way and decides to start his own exclusive club. A concert to prove that the band members are not racists goes horribly, horribly wrong.
Pranklok: The new Dethklock album starts shipping but a storm destroys all the ships and every copy except for the master sinks to the bottom of the sea. Before the band realize this, Nathan and Pickles go on a worldwide bender while Murderface prank calls people. Nathan eventually receives a vision from a whale that convinces him to destroy the master copy of the album, sending the world into a downward spiral.
Motherklok: With the world suffering from the massive financial catastrophe caused by destroying the new album, Dethklok decides to help kickstart the economy by setting up a bunch of massive travelling carnivals with rides and performances. When a Dethfair is to be held in Wisconsin, Pickles has to deal with his mother and prove his worth as a real estate agent to gain her acceptance.
Booklok: When Skwisgaar refuses to let Toki play a solo at a concert in Brazil, Toki writes a tell-all book entitled 'Skwisgaar Is Ams Dick' which quickly becomes a bestseller and ruins Skwisgaar's reputation. Toki winds up getting all of his endorsements and winds up getting to play the solos, but fails to heed his bandmate's warning about the audience...
Writersklok: When Nathan gets writer's block and can't create material for the new album, Dick Knubbler brings in some help in the form of producer Abigail Remeltindrinc. The band don't want to take direction from a woman but she soon sends them on a vacation. Eventually they wind up in the Middle East where the men think that they are women because of their hair and a high ranking sultan tries to make them members of his personal harem. They try to convince him of their real identities and he gives them an ultimatum - prove you are Dethklok by performing a brand new song... or perform fellatio.
Dethcamp: Offdensen travels for business while Toki goes to make friends at Rock-A-Rooni Fantasy Camp. This leaves Nathan and Pickles in charge of Mordhaus while Skwisgaar and Murderface take advantage of Toki's absence by eating junk food and watching scary movies. When Nathan finds out that Toki has befriended former Dethklok member and current Nathan Explosion foe Magnus Hammersmith, he heads to the camp to deal with it.
Dethvanity: When Murderface is awarded the prize for being the 'Brutalist Looking Musician' in the world he decides to get a makeover and become Handsomeface. He borrows money from Nathan to pay for plastic surgery and heads to Mexico, meanwhile the band are dealing with age related criticisms of their own and soon decide to follow suit.
Going Downklok: Abigail is forcing the band to head into a submarine to travel to the depths of the ocean where they'll record the new album uninterrupted. Without any women around, the band, at Murderface's behest, start jacking off with such regularity that they all get Carpel Tunnel Syndrome and can't play their instruments. With masturbation now off limits, they all start to fall for Abigail, with Nathan willing to do anything to win her affections over Pickles, even perform oral sex on her. Abigail isn't interested until the batteries on her vibrator expire, while Murderface can't take it anymore and tries to rape Toki, whose laundry has all turned pink.
Dethdinner: When the band's record label hosts a dinner to introduce the new album, Nathan tries to sit near Abigail but she doesn't want anything to do with him. Toki gets hooked on a website called Facefriends and soon shows up at the dinner with Dr. Rockzo, who has friended him on the social networking site. Murderface goes on a hunger strike for more credit on the album and winds up hammered on a few glasses of wine while Pickles, still hoping to score with Abigail, becomes enraged with Nathan.
Breakup Klok: Pickles quits the band and Dethklok breaks up. Murderface embarks on a new career as the Congressman for New Jersey, Toki tagging along as his personal assistant, while Skwisgaard and Nathan decide to start a new band with some help from Knubbler. When Toki sends out pictures of Murderface jacking off, his career goes down in flames while Nathan and Skwisgaard soon realize they'll never find that sound they want. Pickles tries to start his own winery but just winds up poisoning people. When Roy Cornickelson is killed after the band's final show is attacked, Nathan delivers the eulogy and tries to apologize to Pickles to get Dethklok back together.
Church Of The Black Klok: Offdensen smuggles the band to a cave deep below the ocean where a strange cult called The Church Of The Black Klok lead by Ishnifus Meaddle are waiting for them. The band's history up to this point and their role in the prophecy of the Metalocalypse is explained, setting up the show's fifth season...
...and at the risk of spoiling things further, we'll just leave it at that. With the third season a slight disappointment, it's great to see Metalocalypse return to form with this fourth batch of episodes. With each episode presented uncut (meaning the language and, yes, the nudity is fully intact here), the season is a whirling dervish of heavy metal inspired insanity that is as bizarrely hilarious as it is truly epic. With opening narration from Werner Herzog in most of the episodes here, the series takes on a ludicrous heaviness not just in terms of the music used but in terms of the themes and concepts that it's exploring. Like the seasons before it, this fourth season starts off fairly light and gravitates towards the apocalyptic themes that have run through it since the beginning as the season draws to a close. So while we're watching episodes about masturbation and Pickles' real estate career we're slowly but surely dealing with the impending financial collapse of the world markets and the efforts of clandestine groups to usurp control of the band to use for their own nefarious goals.
Once again the voice acting from the entire cast is excellent. The show has been around long enougn now that fans expect a certain level of quality from the performances and this season doesn't deliver. Much of the humor from the show stems not just from the over the top scenarios but also from the various band members' reactions to those scenarios. The voice actors earn top marks all around in this department. The music created for the show also adds a certain level of awesomeness to the series, as you can tell it was made by legitimate fans of metal. The playing is solid, the vocals are, well, brutal, and the lyrics are wonderfully ridiculous.
You might think that the series would have run its course by this point but this season proves that's not the case. With the fifth season in development at the time of this writing, who knows what direction Brendon Small, Tommy Blacha and company will take us in but here's hoping that they can keep up this level of quality for a long time to come.
Metalocalypse looks pretty good here and it's nice to see that the episodes are presented in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen (the first volume was not 16x9 enhanced). The series is intentionally pretty dark with a lot of blacks, browns and reds used so don't expect a particularly bright color palette here but color reproduction is pretty much spot on and there are no problems with mpeg compression artifacts. Some slight line shimmering shows up here and there but at least the picture is consistently clean. Overall, the video quality is very good.
Each and every episode in the set is presented in English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix with optional subtitles in English only. Dialogue is clean and clear though some may have trouble with a few of the characters' accents or with deciphering the lyrics to some of the songs (the subs provide help here if you need it). The low end sounds nice and growly during the songs and channel separation in the front and back of the mix adds some atmosphere to certain scenes when its required.
There's nothing on the first disc (excluding two amusing Easter Eggs) but the second disc contains a whole bunch of deleted scenes and other oddities. Pickles Flyby is a weird bit where Pickles appears in a little box and sort of floats by different locations from the series offering some input for ten minutes. There are three different Staresdown shorts here (entitled Staresdown 1, Staresdown 2 and Staresdown 3) that are short staring contests between Toki and Skwisgaard, while the Murdethoughts segment is a four minute segment of Murderface lying in bed with his mask on from the plastic surgery episode espousing on things. The Prophecy is more Herzog narrated prophecy dialogue over some bizarre imagery that lasts just over two minutes while Dr. Rockzo's Greatest Hits is an awesome faux-commercial for the new compilation album from everyone's favorite cocaine loving rock n roll clown. CFO Rapsis a strange rap video made up of clips of Offdensen sound bites while the Dethklok Fan Art section is a still gallery of, well, you probably guessed Dethklok fan art - and if you did, you'd be right. The Dethgame is a seven minute pretend game show in which contestants answers trivia questions about the band... or suffer the consequences.
Menus and episode selection are provided on each of the two DVDs that make up this set. You can watch the episodes on their own or use the 'play all' functionality to set yourself up for a marathon session.
Metalocalypse: Season Four is awesome, plain and simple. The series has returned to its former glory and in this fourth season is as intriguingly unusual and unique as it is frequently hilarious. The DVD set from Warner Brothers and Adult Swim looks and sounds quite good and includes some fun extras as well. Highly recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.