March 3, 2014


Metal Gets Animated

Hard rock and cartoons have gone together for over 30 years. The pairing first broke into the mainstream with the success of 1981's Heavy Metal and 1982's Pink Floyd's The Wall. John Schnepp, the director of Adult Swim's animated series Metalocalypse, told Fuse News about the influence of Heavy Metal

"It's an amazing cross-generational film that covers all of the history of music for adults who happen to like animation," says Schnepp. "[It's] a movie that has some nudity, violence, sex, and cool music and great storytelling."

As the '80s and '90s progressed, it became more popular for rock bands to include animation with their music videos. When Linkin Park broke onto the scene at the turn of the millennium, they capitalized on the fact that two of the band members were also visual artists.  Frontman Chester Bennington explains how the band put them to use.  "Both Mike and Joe went to school for the arts.  When we started working on Reanimation we kind of took the idea of taking not only the music and representing the music in a new way."

"Everything we do now seems to have some type of animated element," adds Bennington.

In 2013, Linkin Park took their animation a step further when they released a video game called LP Recharge, along with an album of remixes that provided the game's score. The album debuted in Billboard's Top 10. "If you beat the game you get to unlock a new song," Bennington adds.

But the most successful combination of heavy metal and animation has to be Metalocalypse, a series about the death metal band Dethklok. John Schnepp, one of the main creative forces behind the show, says, "Metalocalypse to me was always about excess. It's the richest band in the world."

The series was an immediate success, and Dethllok became a real band. Brendan Small, who co-created the series, says, "The music started catching on and gaining its own life within the first year of production."

Schnepp adds, "More people were like, 'We want to see this band.' The album shot to No. 1. No other death metal band had a cartoon show promoting it."

Dethklok continues on with its animated series, and the band has released three more albums, gone on tours, and even had its own movie. Small boasts that the band "had the top three highest-charting death metal albums of all time."

"It was really great to see how Metalocalypse has had such an impact on metal heads," Schnepp says. "They love the show because it has so much to do with that culture."

While Season 5 is in the works, Schnepp created an animated series and video game to go along with Avenged Sevenfold's latest album, Hail to the King. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. "I made a trailer for Hail to the King and their album dropped a few weeks afterwards. They are their own giant mega production," says Schnepp. "M. Shadows definitely had the whole story set out. It was literally like, 'You're talking about Dungeons and Dragons and metal, it sounds great.'"

The partnership of music and animation is only just beginning, according to Schnepp. "I think in the future we will see a lot of animation feature films with an all metal soundtrack, just like we had thirty years ago with Heavy Metal," he says. "I'm sure we'll see that and I'm going to make one. The sky is the limit really."

Segment produced by Rebecca Teran
Article by Alan Noah