On the heels The Venture Bros.: Radiant Is the Blood of the Baboon Heart last month, yet another Adult Swim animated series unceremoniously canceled is getting a chance to properly wrap things up through an feature length animated film with Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar. A continuation of the Metalocalypse adult animated series, created by Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha, about the escapades of the fictional death metal band Dethklok described as “like the Beatles, just a thousand times more dangerous and a billion times more stupid.”

Following the rescue of band member Toki Wartooth at the end of the epic Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem rock opera, Dethklok finds themselves tasked with composing the “Song of Salvation” in order to prevent the end of the world as prophesied in the titular “Metalocalypse.” If the basic plot sounds similar to Bill and Ted Face the Music, you’re not alone. While Army of the Doomstar shares its premise and more than a few familiar themes with the last Bill and Ted film, this is firmly its own unique story building upon years of plotlines. While there are just as many (if not more) questions as answers, it’s a satisfying conclusion to the saga that Small and company began almost two decades ago.

MetalocalypseWhile Metalocalypse originated as a brilliant satire on the music industry, and entertainment in general, as the series progressed comedy took a backseat in favor of the larger and deep storyline building in the background involving the mysterious Illuminati like group known as the Tribunal. So it won’t come as total surprise that the humor in Army of the Doomstar is definitely dialed back in favor of putting focus on character relationships and plot. That’s not to say the film is completely devoid of humor, but fans shouldn’t go in expecting the same laugh out loud moments on the same level as the original series. For a property known for reveling in brutality, I was surprised by the amount of heart in the film. And it’s not from the sweet and childlike member Toki Wartooth, but in fact Dethklok lead singer and frontman Nathan Explosion. His existential crisis that drives the crux of the film can be read as a meta-narrative that Small and his entire team had of creating a worthy finale satisfying to both themselves and the fanbase.

Small’s approach to the film is not dissimilar to James Gunn and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in that both filmmakers each project as a final outing and statement on their respective franchises and don’t hold back. As much as I adored GotG Vol. 3, even I concede Gunn may have crammed more characters than necessary, namely Adam Warlock. Luckily, that’s not an issue for Army of the Doomstar as Small manages to give each of the five members a proper arc. Hardcore fans may be disapointed the various favorite Metalocalypse supporting players don’t figure too much into the plot. Even Dr. Rockzo, the the rock n’ roll clown, seems a bit shoehorned in for just a brief sequence for fan service. Nevertheless, eagle-eyed fans will likely be delighted by the Avengers: Endgame style third act featuring many classic Metalocalypse supporting characters like the band’s French chef Jean-Pierre and therapist Dr. Twinkletwitis. Even Fatty Dong-Dong, the Dethklok’s adopted foster child, can even be briefly seen.

Adult Swim programs aren’t known for their expensive productions and Metalocalypse was no exception with budget of each episode averaging around $109,099 over the entire first season. Nevertheless, the style and aesthetics of Metalocalypse overcame the financial limitations with the animation team constantly striving to outdo themselves with each season. Army of the Doomstar is the culmination of everything that came before showcasing truly breathtaking visuals and imagery that will definitely call to mind the Heavy Metal animated film. Honestly, it will never get better than this. 

As Doctor Manhattan said at the end of Watchmen, “Nothing ever ends.” That certainly seems to be the case in this current era where practically every property seems to be getting a revival, it’s entirely possible we may not yet have seen the end of Dethklok. However, I think it would be a mistake as Metalocalypse will never get better than Army of the Doomstar.

I’ll be first to admit I have absolutely no interest in or knowledge of death metal. But after friends convinced me to watch a few episodes back in 2009/2010, it didn’t matter because the characters and concept had so much appeal. I liken it to Ted Lasso appealing beyond the soccer fandom. In an era where practically every property is being revived more times than it should, Metalocalypse fans can take solace that if this indeed the end, Brendon Small and his team don’t drop the ball and give fans something truly brutal that was worth waiting a decade.

Metalocalypse: Army of the Doomstar will be available Digitally and on Blu-ray Disc August 22, 2023.