Dethklok has a new song in Guitar Hero today, and Metalocalypse creator Brendan Small is eager to see you give "Laser Cannon Deth Sentence" a try.
"Laser Cannon Deth Sentence" is now available in the Guitar Hero music store for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, part of a triple pack of metal, along with Shadows Fall's "Still I Rise" and Amon Amarth's "Twilight of the Thunder God." Today I spoke to Dethklok's creator, lead singer, lead guitarist and drummer Brendan Small about Metalocalypse, Dethklok, YouTube videos, and what Guitar Hero has done for the guitar.
Brendan Small graduated Boston's Berklee College of Music in 1997, but didn't start touring in his own death metal band until 2007. "I really liked metal," Brendan recalls, "but it really wasn't happening back then. There was a dark era for guitars, where it wasn't cool to pick a solo in a song."
So instead of chasing after his musical aspirations, after graduation Small started performing stand-up at The Comedy Studio in Harvard Square. It was there he was spotted by Loren Hal Bouchard of Comedy Central's Dr Katz, Professional Therapist. The two teamed up to create a new animated show on UPN called Home Movies. After UPN dropped the series, Cartoon Network picked it up for Adult Swim. It was there that Small merged his love of comedy and music into the animated series Metalocalypse.
I asked Brendan to explain Metalocalypse for the uninitiated.
"Metalocalpyse is a couple of things. It's not just a TV show. It started as a TV show, and then grew into a live tour. It's a TV show about the biggest entertainment act in the world (Dethklok). You follow them through this absurd world that they go into. There's lots of murder, guitars, blood and fire."
Brendan does the majority of the voices on the show, including lead singer Nathan Explosion, lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf, and the band's Yooper drummer, Pickles.
He also writes the music for the show, which has taken on a life of its own. In 2007, the first album from the show's death metal band, The Dethalbum, climbed to number 21 on the Billboard Top 200 list, becoming the only death metal album in history to place that high. In 2009, Dethalbum II trumped its predecessor, reaching number 15.
With great musical popularity comes the inevitable rhythm game inclusion. Guitar Hero II featured Dethklok's "Thunderhorse" as an unlockable bonus track. And now they've got "Laser Cannon Deth Sentence", a song that could possibly tear a drummer's arms right off.
"Actually the intention here is to ruin the drummer's feet," Brendan corrects me. "The arms aren't doing nearly the work that the feet are."
Either way, appendages will be lost. You can check out the song on YouTube to see what I mean. Someone is going to catch on fire playing that.
Small couldn't comment on the song's difficulty in game, but confirmed that it's extremely difficult to play for real, admitting that he probably couldn't play it on Guitar Hero.
"I've been playing the guitar for 20 years now, and it's pretty funny to watch me flail and falter trying to play Guitar Hero. I got up to medium."
While other musical artists have professed disdain for rhythm games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, Small sees the good that the rhythm genre has done, especially where classic rock is concerned. "A lot of people wouldn't be listening to bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd or Foghat right now if it wasn't for Guitar Hero. I don't think there's really any other way to listen."
Of course he might be slightly biased explaining that during the first live Dethklok tour in 2007, many fans said they only heard of the band through Guitar Hero.
When I asked Brendan for any last thoughts he wanted to share with our readers, he immediately kicked into promotional mode. "Go buy The Dethalbum and Dethalbum II, and if you want to learn about playing an actual guitar, then Alfred Publishing has instructional books for when you're ready to take it to the next stage."
Once the promo was over, however, he did have one final thought.
"I've seen the YouTube videos of these amazing kids playing DragonForce's "Through the Fire and Flames." I can't wait to see the videos for "Laser Cannon Deth Sentence."
Let's not disappoint the nice man.