By now, Nathan Explosion and his virtual comrades encompassing the fictitious death grinders DETHKLOK on Adult Swim's "Metalocalypse" has ridden about every metal cliché into the charred embers with every ounce of hilarity anyone this side of SPINAL TAP could've expected. Every cliché, that is, except for a symphonic metal excursion. Come on, you knew it was coming.
Brendon Small and Gene Hoglan, along with associates Mike Keneally and Bryan Beller are probably on borrowed time with DETHKLOK and they seem to know it. Now issuing four albums under the guise of a fabricated band, the mere idea is preposterous. For Small and company's purposes, however, they've managed to make three blazing fast, sharply delivered records in the past. Why not go for broke with an invented metal opera?
"The Doomstar Requiem" is the "Metalocalypse" animated special depicting a tale of DETHKLOK's disbanding and the subsequent abduction of rhythm guitarist Toki Wartooth by the Metal Masked Assassin. It's up to the remnants of DETHKLOK to save the day, of course, and here sets up "The Doomstar Requiem's" nutty faux "opera." "Blazing Star", which is given serious attention and detail, is the single from "The Doomstar Requiem", and it is considered the only actual DETHKLOK track here. The rest of the program is attributed to "Metalocalypse". So it goes in a multimedia pretend world.
An apparent roast of Meat Loaf with metallic subtleties seems to be the motivator for "The Doomstar Requiem". Expect this "opera" to be chocked with bits of profanity, growled lines to counter the Meat Loaf and Mike Patton-esque cleans and some pretty funny moments. You know you're in for a riot when "How Can I Be a Hero?" adds to the query "when my dick is as big as a shoe?"
The batty tones of "The Doomstar Requiem" vary between chugging grind and death metal modes ("Blazing Star", "Magnus and the Assassin", "The Fans are Chatting", "The Duel", "Morte Lumina" and "The Answer is in Your Past"), goofs on American power rock ("Some Time Ago") and of course, symphonic-operatic rips, "Before You Go" being one of the silliest mash-ups. There's even a nutty acoustic cradlesong ("Abigail's Lullaby") where themes of evisceration come as part and parcel of its mock dreamtime lilt.
There's always seemed to be a subtle jibe against Brian May to Skwisgaar Skwigelf's (i.e. Brendon Small) regaling, overly majestic solos. All part of DETHKLOK's loony metal circus, naturally, and the cavalcade crux is played to the hilt on "I Believe", which sounds played to the key of "King for a Day, Fool For a Lifetime"-era FAITH NO MORE, dotted with a quirky pop twist. Prior to that, "The Duel" is delved as a quick backstory outlining how Toki won his way into DETHKLOK via a shred duel against Skwisgaar. Cool move on the creators' part to incorporate some of the best guitar play in this project.
If you've already felt like "The Doomstar Requiem" has spun you madcap, get ready for "the sound of angry musicians congregating" during the hilariously weird dance interjection of "Givin' Back to You". The would-be duke-out theme haunts (purposefully, no doubt) of Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" before heavying things up a bit in the final stanza.
At least "Blazing Star" and "Morte Lumina" sends this insane project home with awesome shred and double hammer amidst the symphonic winds that carry into the absurdly long "Doomstar Orchestra" suite. No less prolific and exquisite in composition, the 24 minutes comprising "Doomstar Orchestra" still feels like a joke with the longest setup for a punch line in comedy history. Of course, who knows? This suite may end up on a classical music station in years to come and said joke will have been played on us all in splendid fashion.
"The Doomstar Requiem" is no less clownish in concept than "Chef Aid: The South Park Album" from 1998, but it does boast superior musicianship even as a big jest. Never forget that Brendon Small wields a pretty fine axe even while yakking about partying in your underwear through the minimalist bangs of "Partying Around the World". The hyperactive drumming of Gene Hoglan is always worth listening to, no matter if the endeavor is to be taken as seriously a farted interpretation of "We Three Kings". If you're a fan of "Metalocalypse", "The Doomstar Requiem" score is mandatory. Otherwise, the new CARCASS album awaits you.