Created by Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha, the animated comedy is a comprehensive love letter to the style. And its endearingly credible (yet peculiar) protagonists, the melodic death metal quintet Dethklok, have actually produced legitimate albumsand tours with help from rockers such as Gene Hoglan, Mike Keneally, Nili Brosh and Bryan Beller — among other revered musicians.
After all, Metalocalypse, which originally ran on Adult Swim for four seasons until 2013, is an affectionately hilarious satire of metal history and mannerisms. And rock stars such as Dave Grohl, Kirk Hammett, Scott Ian, Devin Townsend and Angela Gossow have gotten in on the act by voicing characters on the show.
Yep, even the biggest of rockers tip their hats to the program that’s perfect for metalheads who like dark humor. And the journey will continue with a Metalocalypse movie that was announced last year.
But of all the superbly silly and clever nods to metal bands that Metalocalypse has provided over the years, the 10 we’ve compiled below must surely be the funniest.
Cannibal Corpse Items at Finntrolls Supermarket in “The Curse of Dethklok” (S1, E1)
The inaugural episode is full of inside jokes. After Dethklok’s chef dies, they try learning how to cook for themselves. As they’re helplessly shopping at Finntrolls Supermarket (itself a crafty acknowledgement of the Finnish folk metal project), they cause all sorts of havoc.
This prompts lead vocalist Nathan Explosion to grab a cashier’s microphone and rattle off several Cannibal Corpse song titles: “Price check! Clean-up aisle 6! Rotted Body Landslide! And don’t forget our special sale on Every Bone Broken Chicken! Hurry! Enjoy our tasty Hammer Smashed Face! Aisle 3.” He laughs as he says it, and so do we.
Nathan Explosion Works at Dimmu Burger in “Go Forth and Die” (S1, E13)
Admittedly, Dimmu Borgir’s name begs to be cleverly ridiculed, and the show capitalizes on that by having Nathan Explosion work at Dimmu Burger. In the clip, he dreams about the rest of Dethklok dying horribly on stage, resulting in him working at the fast food joint a year later.
Dressed in the usual corporate attire, he cluelessly tries to help an obnoxious teenage customer who eventually recognizes him and – accompanied by the shift manager – derides Nathan for his ineptitude. Nathan’s childlike responses to their questions and accusations, as well as his rage and graphic self-injury in the fryer, are delightful.
The Band Visit Helvete-like Record Store in Norway in “Dethdad” (S2, E15)
There are many notable things about Mayhem guitarist Euronymous, including his legendary music shop, Helvete. So, it was only a matter of time before Metalocalypse incorporated it into an over-the-top storyline, albeit indirectly.
When rhythm guitarist Toki Wartooth learns that his father has cancer, the whole troupe flies to Norway. Before heading to his house, they go into town and venture upon “the first blacks metal records shops what’s starts it all” (as Toki puts it), Drep Du Selv. Inside, the Euronymous-esque clerk wears corpse paint and speaks in a decidedly elitist but non-threatening tone that adds to the joke.
Guns N’ Roses get parodied in “Snakes n’ Barrels” (S1, E9)
Few metal bands have had as much turmoil as Guns N’ Roses, making them the perfect target for this Behind the Music pastiche of drummer Pickles’ former band, Snakes N’ Barrels.
The segment kicks off with meticulous authenticity by having a somber narrator recount the quartet’s troubled history; meanwhile, exaggerated imagery reminiscent of the rise, fall and overarching trajectory of GNR is shown. (Bassist Antonio DiMarco Thunderbottom even sports Slash’s top hat.)
It’s an ingeniously amusing send-up that carries through the rest of the episode, and luckily, the weathered foursome returned in Season 2’s two-part “Snakes n’ Barrels II,” too.
Dr. Rockzo (Various Segments)
Dr. Rockzo – whose name and catchphrase are no doubt inspired by W.A.S.P.’s “Doctor Rockter” and Def Leppard’s “Photograph” – is a fan favorite secondary character who appears throughout the series (debuting in “Birthdayface”).
With his extravagant drug habit, high-pitched vocals, gaudy attire, incessant libido and relentless energy, he’s an uproariously embellished amalgamation of singers such as Vince Neil, Bret Michaels and David Lee Roth.
Fittingly, his ludicrous escapades and ideas annoy – if not outright harm – those around him, and the fact that he has his own LP (Dr Rockzo’s Greatest Hits) cements his place as a meta-spoof of similarly showy frontmen.
Multiple References to St. Necrophagist Hospital
Typically, the best Metalocalypse gags arise from naming innocuous – or even pleasant – things after extreme genre ensembles (as the rest of this list demonstrates). Such is the case with the recurring St. Necrophagist Hospital, which is titled after the German technical death metal group.
For instance, Season 2’s “The Revengencers” ends with Dethklok performing for a bunch of badly injured patients. Then, Season 3’s “Dethhealth” sees the band reluctantly getting checked out and undergoing assorted treatments.
The editing here is particularly comical, as are all of the things that bassist William Murderface thinks about while a doctor examines his penis.
Cattle Decapatation Pet Supply in “Diversityklok” (S4, E2)
This is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, but it’s too good not to mention. Late in the series, Toki becomes resentful of the other four members due to them constantly excluding him from their activities. In response, he starts his own club – the “Special Persons’ Invites Club” – but immediately invites everyone else except for Murderface.
Shortly thereafter, we get a montage of the four men hanging out at numerous places, including Cattle Decapatation Pet Supply (misspelling intentional). The longer you think about it, the more preposterous the incongruity between the name and purpose of the business gets. If only it were real.
Behemoth Productions’ Employees in “Dethstars” (S1, E19)
The penultimate episode of Season 1 (titled after the Swedish industrial metal fivesome) finds Dethklok trying to become actors.
To get their movie, Blood Ocean, off the ground, they work with Behemoth Productions, which is an overt wink at the Polish death metallers. Leading the staff is the absurdly aggressive and unintelligible studio head, James Grishnackh, whose name resembles Count Grishnackh (the pseudonym of Burzum’s Varg Vikernes).
Other references consist of cook Lupe Asesino (Asesino), director J.F. Amarth (Amon Amarth) and actors James Cronos (Venom mastermind Conrad “Cronos” Lant) and Valerie Vrangsinn (Carpathian Forest bassist Vrangsinn). Wow, that’s a lot.
Young Nathan Explosion Attends Exhorder Elementary in “Deathgov” (S2, E10)
Another instance of Metalocalypse nailing ridiculous juxtapositions comes at the beginning of “Deathgov.” An adolescent Nathan Explosion stands timidly as his teacher announces that he’s now the second grade class president at a school named after the American thrash/groove metal trio.
At the same time, a belligerent trucker is fleeing from the cops; after he yells, “I’m a lunatic of God’s creation” (thereby evoking the Deicide track), he crashes into the classroom and brutalizes the teacher and a handful of pupils. Rarely has carnage been so comedic, and Nathan’s total lack of a reaction is the gratifying cherry on top.
Scream-Activated Lighting in “Renovationklok” (S3, E1)
Let’s be honest: For as sick as guttural singing can be, it’s fundamentally a bit silly as well, and it begs to be satirized. Enter the first episode of Season 3 and the many makeovers of the group’s Viking longboat lair, Mordhaus. After their residence is severely ravaged by the Revengencers (an anti-Dethklok extremist organization), the band install several enhancements.
The greatest is undoubtedly Nathan Explosion’s scream-activated lighting in every room. As he explains to his bandmates: “See, you come home and it’s dark. ‘Where are my keys?’ WHAAAAA! Over there.” A purple spotlight appears as he roars. It’s brilliant.