Austrian Death Machine – Total Brutal
Metal Blade Records (7/22/08)
Metal / Hardcore
“Joke” bands are a tough sell. They’re usually a side project, a creative outlet for accomplished musicians. And they’re nearly impossible to review. There’s no way to be overly critical because, after all, it’s just a joke (Don’t you get the joke?). But in the same vein, you can’t completely embrace the band and take it seriously because, well, it’s a joke.
Austrian Death Machine is a metal band fronted by the Governator himself, Ahhnold (an homage to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger); the band is actually the brainchild of As I Lay Dying founder and frontman Tim Lambesis (who, I presume, is pretty much the sole member of the band, though the album features plenty of guest appearances).
Total Brutal is your standard metal/hardcore hybrid album, with the joke being each song channels the brutality of Schwarzenegger’s movies. All of the songs are based off movie roles—”If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It” (Predator), “Who Is Your Daddy, And What Does He Do?” (Kindergarten Cop), “You Have Just Been Erased” (Eraser) and “Come With Me If You Want to Live” (The Terminator), to name but a few—with a handful of skits thrown in to keep the joke rolling.
The thing is, while most of these songs are almost forgettable, some of them are actually pretty good. The band is at its best when the inspiration for a song is a springboard into a more elaborate idea. You can’t help but chant along with the Terminator-inspired “I Am a Cybernetic Organism, Living Tissue Over Endoskeleton”, and the guitar work on “Who Is Your Daddy…” is truly inspired. And you could probably take “Here Is Subzero, Now Plain Zero” off the disc and fit it onto any metal album, to be taken seriously. On the flip side, how can you not smile when head-banging along with “It’s Not a Tumor”?
Basically, Lambesis is one hell of a musician, and has put together a brutal little album that is weighed down by the running joke. Total Brutal is worth a listen, but I can’t imagine it finding a permanent home in anyone’s rotation years from now. I get the joke, but I’m just not sure how long it will stay funny.