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The Animated Comedy Everyone's Binging On HBO Max

WarnerMedia is having a totally metal streaming experience as HBO Max subscribers are lining up in droves to follow the Dethklok reunion tour. With all the premium content available to subscribers on HBO Max, we were a little surprised to discover the renewed popularity of Adult Swim's animated comedy Metalocalypse — but we probably shouldn't have been. If there's one thing everybody acknowledges about Dethklok, it's their ability to draw a crowd.

Metalocalypse debuted during the heyday of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block — another entry in the 15-minute adult cartoon format that Williams Street has had so much success with. The first episode ran on August 6, 2006, and introduced the late-night viewing public to Dethklok, the most powerful metal band in the world. The show established a strong voice from the outset — something between Adult Swim's patented brand of off-beat dark comedy and Tarantino-esque hyper-violence. 

In Metalocalypse, Creators Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha managed to create an animated series that is simultaneously an homage to and scathing satire of heavy metal culture. The visual motifs and plot elements will feel familiar to any fan of Megadeth or cult hit Heavy Metal, but the sense of humor hews much closer to a show like Aqua Teen Hunger Force or Frisky Dingo. It's likely this improbable blend of styles and culture that has earned the series a second look on HBO Max.

Metalocalypse has maintained its cult following

In the world of Metalocalypse, the death metal band Dethklok has earned a level of popularity never achieved in the history of music. They operate almost like a sovereign state, with an army of rabid fans always eager to do their most outrageous bidding (like, say, lynching the governor of Florida). The principal musicians in the band are Nathan Explosion (voiced by Small), Skwisgaar Skwigelf (also Small), Pickles the Drummer (also Small), Toki Wartooth (Blacha), and William Murderface Murderface Murderface (also Blacha). Together, Dethklok ranks as the seventh-largest economy on the planet.

The band's imperial phase raged on Adult Swim from 2006-2013, but once the curtain fell on the grand finale, fans weren't ready to give up the ghost. After the show's 2013 cancellation, Small approached Adult Swim with a concept for a mini-series that might give Dethklok the send-off they so rightfully deserved. Adult Swim balked, and the righteous fandom of metalheads rose up on social media. In 2015, the hashtag "Metalocalypse Now" was born with support from Small. The goal of the online pressure campaign was to encourage Hulu to step in and co-fund a follow-up series entitled Metalocalypse: The Army of the Doomstar – The Final Chapter. Apparently, financiers did step up to help get the series off the ground, but Adult Swim declined to pick it up (via Metal Insider). This came as a bit of a surprise, since the popular late-night comedy block has historically been open to this kind of revival. As Small put it at the time, "Adult Swim doesn't want anyone to have Metalocalypse, not even themselves."

Despite Adult Swim's reticence to return to the world of Metalocalypse, that kind of devotion from both fans and creator should tell you that this series is something special. Whether you're entirely new to the material, or primed for a rewatch, HBO Max has got you covered with the entire series streaming in full. With four seasons spanning 61 episodes and a concept album special entitled "The Doomstar Requiem" that also served as the series finale, there's certainly plenty of Metalocalypse content for a healthy binge.

When it comes to Metalocalypse, life imitates art

Part of the show's appeal has always been its intersection with the metal scene IRL — a subculture that has never lacked for self-awareness. From the outside, the world of heavy metal music might seem frightening — even dangerous — but the scene has always been more about pageantry than pain. There's always been a winking understanding between the performers and the fans that heavy metal is one big costume party, and death has always been more of a theme than some kind of religious totem. Perhaps that's why it was so easy for Metalocalypse and Dethklok to crawl off the screen and into the third dimension.

Fronted by Small, an IRL version of Dethklok has released several albums based on the music of the show and even toured with the backing of a full band. In 2007, Adult Swim organized a college tour for the group that featured stops at 12 different campuses with the support of indie prog outfit ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. The band's LPs include The Dethalbum, The Dethalbum II, and The Dethalbum III. Lest you think it was all a gag without any actual metal chops to back up the performancesDethalbum III actually won an Independent Music Award for Best Metal/Hardcore Album.

If you do get to the end of HBO Max's Metalocalypse catalog and find yourself thirsty for more, just know you can always pop in a Dethklok album to relive the glory.