Dethklok to release The Dethalbum II in September.

On paper, Dethklok should be unbearably lame. Fake bands from cartoons bring to mind tripe like Jem or Josie & The Pussycats. But somehow, Metalocalypse creator Brendon Small got it right. Dethklok is more than just a "brutal" caricature. Judging by how Small crams in references to obscure bands and invites big names from the metal underground such as George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher and the members of Exodus to provide guest voices on most episodes, Small clearly gives a shit about metal. The Berklee College of Music grad not only voices many of the characters and writes much of the music, he also sings and plays guitar.

The Dethalbum should have also been unbearably lame. Songs from the TV show's first season had to stand on their own without silly ultraviolent imagery. At best, Dethklok should be paint-by-numbers metal, and their songs little more than novelty throwaways. But behind every silly concept like "Murmaider" (homicidal sea-creatures) or "Awaken" (resurrecting demons) hides a pretty awesome metal song. In fact, Small's Berklee pedigree and heavy metal fanboy roots creates a competent, if not expertly-crafted pastiche of the best aspects of death, thrash, and traditional heavy metal.

The Deathalbum was one of my favorite releases of 2007. Now, Small and his cartoon band will try again.