Watch CBS News

Animated metal band Dethklok brings tour with Babymetal to the Masonic for two nights

The popular death metal band led by Brendan Small, the creative force behind popular Adult Swim animated show "Metalocalypse," Dethklok comes to the Masonic in San Francisco for two shows with co-headliners Babymetal.

Metalocalypse: Dethklok | Awaken | Adult Swim by Metalocalypse: Dethklok | Music on YouTube

Arguably the second most popular virtual band behind Gorillaz (the animated group helmed by Blur singer Damon Albarn), Dethklok made their as the stars of "Metalocalypse" when the show created by Small and partner/voice actor Tommy Blancha debuted in 2006. The world biggest death metal band in the program's absurd and surreal alternate universe, Dethklok stands as the planet's seventh largest economy despite the fact that the group's members are idiotic incompetents incapable of doing anything besides writing and performing brutal metal songs.

The quintet of singer Nathan Explosion (who was inspired by Cannibal Corpse vocalist George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher), guitarists Skwisgaar Skwigelf and Toki Wartooth, bassist William Murderface and drummer Pickles live and work in their massive fortress-like home and studio Mordhaus, venturing into the world to secure lucrative sponsorship deals and play huge concerts for their legions of fanatical followers with outlandish stage theatrics like over-the-top pyrotechnics, lasers and a giant swinging pendulum blade, inevitably resulting in widespread death and destruction.

Metalocalypse: Dethklok | Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle | Adult Swim by Metalocalypse: Dethklok | Music on YouTube

Over the course of four seasons and a special broadcast on Adult Swim, "Metalocalypse" became one of the network's more popular shows and a favorite among musicians, with such notable figures as King Diamond, Alice Cooper, Jon Hamm, Werner Herzog, Jack Black and members of Metallica, Exodus, Emperor and Mastodon appearing on the show. Dethklok further built on its fanbase with a series of studio albums featuring the satirical songs featured the show like "Murmaider," "Bloodrocuted" and "Duncan Hills Coffee Jingle." The band also delivered entertaining live performances with widescreen clips of the animated band projected behind Small and his talented band including monster drummer Gene Hogland (Dark Angel, Death, Strapping Young Lad, Testament, Devin Townsend) and former Frank Zappa collaborator Mike Kenneally on guitar.

Dethklok would make regular festival appearances and tour with the likes of Mastodon, High On Fire, Machine Head and the Black Dahlia Murder. After the broadcast of the hour-long rock opera special, "Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem" in 2013, the band continued to perform, but the project went on hiatus after the show was cancelled two years later.

Dethklok | "Thunderhorse" | Adult Swim Festival 2022 by Adult Swim on YouTube

The band returned to action in 2019, playing the Adult Swim Festival to ecstatic crowds. Dethklok also returned to the festival post-pandemic in 2022. The following year, Smalls was at last able to release the final chapter in the Dethklok story with the film Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar, which was accompanied by both a soundtrack and the band issuing its acclaimed fourth studio recording, Dethalbum IV.

With the show having run its course, the band's current tour could be Dethklok's last hurrah as it takes to the road with previous touring partners and co-headliners Babymetal which stops at the Masonic for two nights starting Wednesday. A sensation in their native Japan since first forming in 2010, the group mixes elements of heavy metal with elements of J-Pop and "kawaii" -- the Japanese "culture of cuteness" as exemplified by Hello Kitty and Pokemon. Singer Suzuka Nakamoto had impressed producer Kobametal (aka Key Kobayashi) in her earlier girl groups Karen Girl's and Sakura Gakuin when he wanted to start a new band performing a heavier style of music.

BABYMETAL - ギミチョコ!!- Gimme chocolate!! (OFFICIAL) by BABYMETAL on YouTube

Initially a successful offshoot of Sakura Gakuin, Babymetal became independent in 2013 and enjoyed growing popularity with the release of their self-titled debut the following year. Featuring Nakamoto along with fellow singers Moa Kikuchi (also a member of Sakura Gakuin) and Yui Mizuno executing synchronized dance moves and melodic vocals backed by a group of shredding metal session players known as the Kami Band, the album delivered a dizzying juxtaposition of sunshine pop and metallic crunch. The band rocketed to success in Japan and were playing sold-out shows to thousands when the girls were still in their teens.

The notoriety in their native land soon led to international touring in Europe and North America, with Babymetal appearing at major metal festivals and opening for Lady Gaga. By the time the band was set to release their sophomore album Metal Resistance in 2016, they were headlining Wembley Arena in London and the huge Tokyo Dome to 55,000 screaming fans. More high-profile support gigs with the Red Hot Chili Peppers followed.

While the band suffered some hardship with the accidental death of guitarist Mikio Fujioka late in 2017 after he fell from an observation deck and the departure of Mizuno due to health reasons the next year, Babymetal continued to tour and in 2023 announced the addition of Momoko Okazaki as Fujioka's permanent replacement. The band plays fan favorites and songs from its fourth album The Other One at the Masonic. Opening acts on the two nights will be different, with hyper-technical British power metal band DrangonForce playing Wednesday and theatrical LA-based melodic death metallers Nekrogoblikon kicking off the show Thursday. 

Dethklok and Babymetal
Wednesday-Thursday, April 24-25, 6 p.m. $75.75
The Masonic

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.