Why So Serious?
Some of the Sillier Acts in Music
To many, music is a very serious expression of the self and is used by listeners to identify commonalities in theme and feeling. Sometimes we are more inclined to look for music that isn’t entirely based on anything important. It’s a nice feeling to just sit back and listen to some hilarious tunes. I wanted to avoid using comedians who happen to incorporate music into their acts so Weird Al, Bo Burnham, and Stephen Lynch (though great choices) are not going to be featured. I’m looking for at musicians who just happen to enjoy some good satire.
TERROR 2000 (SWEDEN)
Terror 2000 was born in 1999 as a direct result of music labels pushing for evolving sound and prolific releases. Comprised of members from Soilwork, Darkane, and Face Down, this supergroup would describe their music as the type of music you listen to when you like metal but just want to relax with a beer. Their first album, Slaughter Supremacy (2000) is pretty much what Soilwork’s The Chainheart Machine would sound like if it was more of a thrash album. The lyrical content is pretty straightforward. While it satirizes the thrash sound it still honors it by delivering some pretty quick and talented riffs. Faster Disaster (2002) focuses a lot on mocking the emo/scene movement as well as the street racing that happens late at night in the city. Terror For Sale (2005), their most recent album, takes the satire to a whole new level. They make a lot of specific references to people in the music industry. The album is a parody of the rockstar mentality. The idea that if you’re a famous musician, you’re probably up to your elbows in vagina, drugs, and money. They make fun of young musicians for ripping off At the Gates and trying to be like to Kerry King so they can “get the chics at the bar”. They make fun of people who value sports over human interaction as well as the prevalence of Satanism in music. One particular song, Wrath of the Cookie Monster, is self-referential as it says “In Flames and Soilwork have just sold out and one of the singers is going bald!” Bjorn Strid is the singer of both Terror 2000 and Soilwork and has been balding for quite a few years now. I can always appreciate a band that can poke fun at themselves.
MC CHRIS (UNITED STATES)
MC Chris is fairly well known among those who follow nerd culture. He would not describe himself nor the work he does as nerdy. Most people are familiar with his song “Fett’s Vette” and you probably heard “Hoodie Ninja” on the old Target commercials. He’s worked with Adult Swim on Sealab 2021, Aqua Teen Hunger Force as MC Pee Pants, and is currently working on a project with Brendon Small, the creator of Metalocalypse. I had the opportunity to see him live in 2012 and he discussed the death of his father and his recent sobriety. He mentioned that he likes to sing about his favorite things and to just have fun as a response to the negative things that happen in his life. His songs have featured topics like Dungeons and Dragons, Nintendo games, Harry Potter, and various other things popular in nerdculture. The song featured below discusses the joke about men not being able to please women sexually. MC Chris is never afraid to make light of something serious and I enjoy him from time to time.
DETHKLOK (UNITED STATES)
Speaking of Metalocalypse, the next artist featured is Dethklok. Dethklok has a distinction of being both a fictional band and a real band simultaneously. Upon first read, that would seem awfully confusing. I mean, how can something be real and unreal at the same time? That’s because though the cartoon band was initially created as a joke band, enough requests came in to produce an audio record. The Dethalbum (2007) peaked at #21 on the Billboard 200 and was commercially successful enough to warrant a tour. Brendon Small decided that touring would be a fun idea and recruited some extra members to perform live. I’ve seen them perform twice and the experience is pretty awesome. They play almost completely in the dark while a backdropped screen displays the cartoon band and the animation from the episode where the song is featured. The idea in Metalocalypse is that Dethklok is a band that became the biggest death metal band to ever play. Some of that translated to real life as The Dethalbum III (2012) became the highest charting death metal album of all time, peaking at #10. Fan Song is the song featured below because the first album is sillier, but their albums have become much more complex and technical (and consequently more serious) as the years have gone by. It’s definitely worth a listen.
THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT (CANADA)
Devin Townsend went through a lot of changes in music. Initially being the vocalist for Steve Vai’s Sex and Religion album (1993), Devin Townsend found himself wanting to create an identity for himself that wasn’t through the work of someone else’s mind. Strapping Young Lad was created as an outlet for that. Once he became more known for Strapping Young Lad’s work and the days of Steve Vai faded into obscurity, he was comfortable with associating his real name with his music. He has dabbled in punk, death metal, country and blues, drone and ambient music. His eclecticism and creativity make him a strong candidate in my top performers. His love of life and fun-loving attitude has also caused him to make some silly songs. Punky Bruster was a parody of the punk scene while Strapping Young Lad encapsulated an idea of brutality and image. The song You Suck and Satan’s Ice Cream Truck comes to mind for that time frame. Devin Townsend decided to create a rock opera about an alien named Ziltoid, who comes to conquer Earth and is addicted to coffee. The character has become a mascot for The Devin Townsend Project and has sparked a sequel. I was unable to isolate the first song, so here’s the album.
TOWER OF FIRE (AUSTRALIA)
I saved this band for last because it is the most recent one I was exposed to, the funniest one of all, the one I know the least about, and the one that inspired me to write this particular entry. The cool thing is that their bandcamp page allows you to download the album for free or to buy it from them (“Name your price”). Go there by clicking on the band’s name above, it’s ridiculously funny. The first song I was exposed to was “Dragons Fly Around Castles in Europe (Europe is Where all the Dragons Fly)”. The album is a very amusing take on the power metal genre and I guarantee you will laugh.
Alright folks, I’m out of here. I’ve got a Soilwork album review coming as soon as I hear it! We’ll see what I end up with next week.