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Metalocalypse Männerbünde

[1]2,064 words

Metalocalypse is a cartoon show created by guitarist Brendon Small and comedy writer Tommy Blacha which first aired in 2006 and continued for four seasons, concluding with a one-hour special “Klok Opera.” Starting out as a one-joke comedy slot and finding moderate success, but a dedicated fanbase, it gradually evolved to fully flesh out its characters and introduce and conclude long-running, tangled plots. Metalocalypse, through its premise, plot structure, and brutal gags, draws on archetypes far advanced of its status as a burgers-and-beer cartoon, and has established itself as something unique and irreplaceable.

The show centers on the life of a five-piece melodic death metal band, Dethklok. Dethklok are the “world’s greatest metal band,” and through their music have become the world’s seventh-largest economic power (though it is implied to be much more, as the entire world economy relies on Dethklok record sales and merchandising). Dethklok fans are so fanatical as to commit ritual suicide when a new album is delayed, and to tear critics of Dethklok limb from limb in a frenzied mob. Some Dethklok fans are so enamored with the mystic power that seemingly surrounds the band that they become “Klokateers”; pledging their loyalty and obedience until they perish in service. Thus we glimpse the second layer of the Männerbünde – the armed cadre of practical action that surrounds, protects, and mobilizes the esoteric core.

Dethklok’s members are astonishing musicians, wielding instruments with such skill that they’re able to summon dark forces, yet outside of the relative safety of their wealth and away from their saner, comedic foil and manager Charles Ofdensen, they’re deeply dysfunctional. An early episode shows frontman Nathan Explosion confused in a “food library” (grocery store), and later in the show, Pickles the Drummer is induced into public alcoholism by a malicious PR agent. Guitarists Toki Wartooth and Skwisgaar Skwigelf are both scared of being behind the wheel and are unable to drive. To pinch from Wikipedia [2], “Series creator Small described them as ‘like the Beatles, just a thousand times more dangerous and a billion times more stupid.'” Or are they? Dethklok have a cleverness that eludes their in-show detractors, and unlike the elevated plebs, actresses, and bimbos that make up today’s celebrities, they stand on the merit of their monumental work. It’s not that the mundane is beyond their grasp, it’s just beyond their concern.

Metalocalypse as a whole is deliciously amoral in both its gallows humor and overarching plot. Dethklok aren’t agents of the state in a battle between good and evil – in the non-racist words of Nathan, “We don’t give a fuck about what color our fans are, because we don’t give a fuck about our fans.” This is completely true, as financial and political clout have given Dethklok the ability to act with impunity as its own police force. In one hilarious scene, bassist William Murderface drops a loaded shotgun on account of having cinnamon icing over his hands, causing it to go off and prompting the Klokateers to immediately massacre the surrounding unarmed fans.

This provides a clear distinction between the initiated and uninitiated – there are those who are part of the male society; the hierarchy and group based on a hard core of esoteric, shamanic, or otherwise occult practices of Tradition, and the outside, the lumpenproletariat citizenry and the self-concerned. Metalocalypse constantly insults the band’s fans, portraying them as gullible consumer morons, vacant drones, and slaves to ever-changing fads; fans are voice-acted in an unironic, intentionally stupid-sounding way, and uniformly wear Dethklok T-shirts (the branded T-shirt being the laziest form of casual clothing imaginable and the anti-uniform that one puts on when one is on one’s own time, and not attached to any kind of sartorial obligations). The Klokateers are extorted into “becoming a part of the Klok”; as “the Klok is the march of Metal through the world.”

Chaos and destruction follow in Dethklok’s wake, and as it does so they are monitored closely by an Illuminati-style group led by Mr. Salacia, a large, suited, and bearded man with piercing blue eyes. He is later joined by Vater Olaag, a Rasputin-type figure; both have telekinetic, mystic powers and apparently telepathy as well. The muscle is added by General Crozier, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ultimately reduced to a puppet of Salacia’s through a shamanic “disclosure” of what Salacia can “see.” Crozier wants to take the United States Army’s approach to anything he doesn’t fully understand and can’t assimilate into atomising liberalism – bomb it back to the stone age and import democracy. In this case, he constantly pushes to destroy, or at least disband, Dethklok through direct intervention. Salacia, on the other hand, ends each meeting of The Tribunal with the insistence that “we must watch them . . .” in a drawn out, hissing voice.

Yes, that’s right – Dethklok has no opposition except another Männerbund, another esoteric and similarly amoral group. The difference between the two is that Dethklok is a public entity that assimilates men, materiel, and capital from the mainstream through advertisement, spiritual instruction, and recruitment at metal concerts (in the sense that concertgoers are recruited into a Traditionalist “Way” of Metal, Brutality, sonic heaviness, etc.); whereas the Tribunal is a clandestine group of individual actors with individual allegiances, all privy to esoteric, mythic, and powerful ancient knowledge to a lesser or greater degree, but led through through coercion and ultimately a collection of the self-interested rather than the aristocratic.

Whilst those who know my writing will know I am surfing on my usual “reading too deeply into things” board, but it is to the show’s credit that this is an accurate description of the overarching plot. It is also, like most white-produced culture in any medium, a good analogy for the spiritual archetypes at conflict in our world today. These groups undoubtedly do exist; paleoconservatives, libertarians, HBD groups, and so on have coalesced into the “Dissident Right,” containing various factions: Esoteric Kekistanis and White Nationalists of various stripes adhering to various ideas and doctrines of traditional knowledge; all of which are primarily metapolitical organizations spreading a “Way,” an understanding and the concept of “having race,” and being threaded to a past and future. They oppose the clandestine groups that form the high end of the corporate boardroom: their sponsors, artists, entourages, Judaic “collectors” of various stolen cultural products, and most explicitly the extreme cultural weirdness of “spirit cooking” and the vile creatures that stuff the back offices of Left-wing political structures.

But what is the big deal about Metal? Absent Harry Partch [3], Metal is (in this author’s humble opinion) the “whitest” music and draws upon classical in its composition and structure, being operatic and tragic-romantic; it is inherently a European thing, that non-whites can only appreciate and borrow from superficially (a standout example being Skindred, a reggae/nu metal band fronted by a “British” – Wikipedia’s terminology – Jamaican (I assume), with white hipsters doing the guitars and non-ebonics bits). Metal has varying tempos and uses musical elements in service of the narrative, and is a more purely artistic pursuit than pop/rock by a country mile (no disparagement of country music intended), as both pop and rock are hamburger music that is commodified and sold primarily as a consumable product with a lifespan of a few weeks or months. Whereas pop music is pure hedonism and lizard hijacking of the lower brain with repetitive bass, high-pitched female autotuned vocals about casual sex, and tacky, self-pitying laments about broken romance, rock music is about the glorification of the Rebel Loser – a narcissistic idiot who says, “Fuck you, Mom! I’m going to Party!” and burns out on drugs, endlessly driving a highway to the freedom of being unattached to anything beyond immediate self-gratification.

Metal, essentially, is all-out metaphysical warfare on the liberal cult of the individual and the ensuing, pearl-clutching, excessively “moral” society. To be Metal is to take control of one’s own destiny as a historical actor (and in a psycho-spiritual sense), to accept and embrace the worst excesses of warfare, tragedy, and “brutality” in general and use it to affirm the stronger, aspirational aspect of the self. Whilst the casual headbanger doesn’t think along these lines, it is inherent and showcased more clearly at the extreme ideological fringes of Metal; subgenre splintering occurred as different bands moved on to different techniques in pursuit of “heaviness” whilst shunning what appeared played out, overused, and lapsed into a social classification.[1]

In Metalocalypse’s case, the genre is melodic Death Metal with symphonic bits, morphing into a more narrative show before finally becoming a “Klok Opera” with anthems in service of Männerbund loyalty like “I’ll Do it All for My Brother,” and giving way to an outro in quite literal praise of the Black Sun (Morte Lumina) and its “dethly light.” The Aryan creators, having survived “crashing to Earth literally and financially” after being brought low by a seemingly Judaized record company, are beset by “Revengencers” led by a former, jilted band member, who betrayed Dethklok and yet imagines himself their victim, as well as an assassin seeking revenge for his brother (killed in self-defense as he attacked the band).

The plot of the Opera revolves around the band overcoming their professional distancing from one another to rescue their (as Vater Olaag, the mystic, says with infinite scorn and contempt) “band-mate” – something only possible when they accept him as more than a friend or colleague; as a brother. When the Church of the Black Klok, the ancient society, prompts the remaining Dethklok crew with, “The closer you are to your brother, the stronger you will be!” they are rebuffed with,  “Stop using that word ‘brother’ – it’s weird to me.”

After a trip down memory lane and the realization that their brother Toki, whilst not an original member of the group, was later initiated and is an indispensable component of their craft and who they are – challenging, and at times surpassing lead guitarist Skwisgaar (“No one’s ever made me play this well”) – their allegiances shift from themselves as individuals (Nathan laments, “I’m better than anyone, but I’m just a man”), to the group and their shared craft, and the necessity of saving one for the sake of all. As the Joker says, “Kill you? What would I do without you? You complete me.”

In the final confrontation, the Doomstar (Black Sun) is awakened, empowering Dethklok and annihilating their vengeful foe, the assassin and “Man with the Silver Face.” The former jilted band member, Magnusson, is unharmed, however. Being misguided rather than malicious, the Doomstar’s appearance is twofold: Dethklok realize their higher, aspirational selves in acknowledging their Männerbünde status and Toki’s necessary inclusion in it, and Magnusson realizes:

I can’t believe what I’ve seen.
These men have the power of Gods.
I tried to bring them down.
I am not the hero. I’m the villain.
And I too must go down.

He overcomes his blinding prejudice and resentment, and commits ritual suicide, absolving himself of his crimes.

Music beyond commercialism is about belonging and the shared experience. Metalocalypse, and Metal as a whole, speaks to and of the shared experience of brutality, of the most harrowing and grinding experiences, and uses it to harden the Will and affirmative spirit. The Metalocalypse Männerbünde, through their practice and struggles, end up realizing that becoming is impossible without letting go of the material, vulgar self – Yoda’s “crude matter.” They instead form an explicit order, a structure – a Klok, so that their spirit of overcoming can endure against time.

[1] For (personal) notable examples, Bathory and Burzum pioneered Black Metal as being atmospheric, doom-laden, pagan revulsion against Christian doctrine and disruptive monotheism, and Sodom helped popularize thrash metal about the Vietnam War with tracks like “M16” and “Agent Orange.” As Metal and music in general has been liberated from recording studios and given to the people in the form of more affordable instruments and equipment, more niche and extreme (yet incredibly listenable, catchy, and relatable) music has sprung up. Notable (personal) examples of possible interest include The Monolith Deathcult, who aspire to make accessible yet ridiculously loud and sardonic “Supreme Avante Garde Death Metal,” Goatmoon of National Socialist Black Metal, and Ommadon and Yob, both of which produce incredibly long and slow doom metal in pursuit of the “sonic annihilation of the self” – in Yob’s case, heavily referencing Alan Watts and treading into transcendental territory. Quite a list, footnoted as not to bore the reader.