In theory, the notion of a touring animated (i.e.  cartoon) death metal band seems bizarre at best. But, it makes perfect headbanging sense in reality.

Dethklok is both a virtual band featured in the Adult Swim animated program Metalocalypse, as well as a real band created to perform the band’s melodic death metal music in live shows. Both bands were created by Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha. And both have grabbed the attention of metal fans everywhere.

Recently, Dethklok hit the road with metal giants Machine Head, All That Remains and Black Dahlia Murder. The tour included a stop at Lifestyle Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio on November 9, 2012.

The Columbus show roared in early with Black Dahlia Murder taking the stage while much of the crowd was still waiting outside to be admitted into the venue. Shame on Lifestyle Pavilion for opening the doors virtually simultaneous to the start of the concert. And, it’s not the first time – at one particular festival, fans missed up to three bands while waiting in line for armbands. Not cool.

What was VERY cool – Machine Head, who kept the party going  by banging out the stuff that recently won them the “Best International Band” award at the 2012 Metal Hammer awards in Berlin, Germany. If you missed their performance and/or want more, pick up their recently released Machine Fucking Head Live, the bands first live album since 2003’s Hellalive. The Columbus crowd was especially fortunate to see Machine Head, because on November 13th, the band was forced to cancel their subsequent tour dates from the 13th to the 23rd due to Robb Flynn requiring emergency surgery to treat an inguinal hernia. Machine Head has since rejoined the tour but missed their return show on November 24th in Portland due to the breakdown of their tour bus.

At the Columbus show, All That Remains proved to be a formidable predecessor to the mighty Dethklok. All That Remains left no question why their live performances have become fan favorites and why they have sold nearly 800,000 records worldwide in their seven disc history. The band’s most recent CD, A War You Cannot Win, released on November 6th, features an eclectic blend of hardcore metal and radio friendly tracks, and is already generating a lot of buzz and airplay.

Also sporting a brand spanking new CD, Dethklok reminded fans why an animated/virtual band has become a resoundingly respected influence in the death metal community.

The live genesis of Dethklok occured in November 2007. At that time, creator Brendon Small, Gene Hoglan, Mike Keneally and Bryan Beller performed live as Dethklok at twelve US college campuses in support of the Dethalbum. The Adult Swim-sponsored “Dethtour” featured Dethklok supporting the indie rock band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. The foursome reunited in 2008 to headline a longer “Dethtour”, where they toured the U.S. in June and early July with fellow metal bands Chimaira and Soilent Green.

The second Dethklok album, Dethalbum II was released on September 29, 2009. Dethalbum II reached number #15 on the Billboard 200, making it the highest charting death metal album in history. A tour in support of the new album began in the Fall of 2009, when Dethklok co-headlined with the band Mastodon.

This current tour coincides with the most recent Dethalbum III, released on October 16, 2012. The CD contains music from the second, third and fourth seasons of the show. Like The Dethalbum and Dethalbum II before it, the music is performed by the show’s creator Brendon Small and drummer Gene Hoglan. Additionally, the band’s live bassist, Bryan Beller, performs on the album. The album was also released on vinyl on November 6, 2012. The album debuted at #21 in the Billboard 200, making it the highest-rated death metal album on the Billboard at that time. The album peaked at number 10 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling over 20,000 copies in its first week of release. This overtakes Dethalbum II as the highest charting death metal album.

Much like the content of Dethklok Cd’s, the band’s live performance draws completely from the Metalocalypse show. The band is back lit by a huge video screen emitting scenes from the show during the music and providing onscreen commentary by the characters as filler between songs. But, try as they might to dissolve into the framework of the virtual world of Dethklok, the crushing talent of Small and the rest of the band is impossible to overlook as merely part of the experience. Absent the tongue-in-cheek satire regarding the level of fame attained by the animated band, Dethklok (the real deal) has blazed it’s own way into metal history.