The best way to discover if Detroit Metal City is for you is simply by watching the Opening Titles. A barrage of sensory overload, we see the titular band perform one of their biggest hits in front of a thousand ravenous metal heads. Sporting Kiss inspired makeup and the stage presence and unabashed chaos of Slipknot; fictional death metal band DMC tear up the venue with a brand of discordant head-banging and a 40 year old man dressed up in a gimp costume.
In truth Detroit Metal City is more than a simple homage to the excesses of Rock and Roll, its a statement on the power of branding, coolness and as Phillip Seymour Hoffman said in Boogie Nights “Swill Merchants”. Center to this madness is twenty-something protagonist Negishi, a young up and coming musician with aspirations to become the next Kings Of Convenience and a penchant for playing songs about freshly baked cheese tarts. He wants to be the amalgamation of everything under the banner of Hipster, from the fashionable clothing to having a circle of friends that are part of Tokyo’s Glitterati.
In steps Krauser, Negishi’s equivalent to the Incredible Hulk and front man to up and coming Death Metal act Detroit Metal City. At night Negishi dons the costume of this persona and takes to the stage performing to legions of fans that praise this Metal Monster as a deity to all things Satanic. Negishi just wants to write songs for commercials, he wants to be loved, he wants to the praise of his parents and the girl he crushed on back in college.
Played out over the course of 12 thirteen minute episodes, DMC explores the bands rise to fame as they go up against rival bands, psychotic fans and Negishi’s own increased neurosis. Negishi considers himself to be a nice guy, but is he? As each episode progresses we begin to wonder if Krauser is perhaps more than a simple persona and more of a repressed alter ego. is Negishi as nice as he thinks himself to be? What is more important to him? Artistic integrity or acceptance? Whether he actually likes playing Death Metal or not his music clearly resonates with audiences.
I suppose thats the real appeal of Detroit Metal City. Beneath the barrage of rape jokes, crude humor and mean spirited jibes this is a series that exposes the core of artistic integrity and the pointlessness of it all. Whether Krauser is a valid artistic achievement is really irrelevant. in the grand scheme of things, a happy customer is a happy customer. Its quite easy to get caught up in the commentary of the show rather than boil it down to a simple bullet point, so to get to the point should you watch it? If you have a cursory interest in the Rock Music industry, have a penchant for somewhat dark humour and a high tolerance to vulgarities, Detroit Meta City provides some wonderful characterisation, clever sight gags and caustically sarcastic dialogue. Anyone else should probably approach with caution, Krauser is one mean Mo-Fo.