Released: 2008, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
This is an actual word in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie and if you are a fan, you already know this. That being said, you are either a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies or you are not. There is simply no gray area.
Most people will admit that the Terminator movies (the first two anyway) are classics of the action genre, but only true Arnold-philes will profess their love for the timeless gems Commando, The Running Man, Total Recall, True Lies and Kindergarten Cop. It is for those people that Austrian Death Machine’s TOTAL BRUTAL has been birthed. The brainchild of As I Lay Dying vocalist, Tim Lambesis, TOTAL BRUTAL is essentially an ode to The Governator’s films set to heavy metal music. Through the clever use of Schwarzenegger’s catch phrases and lyrics drawn almost exclusively from his films, TOTAL BRUTAL is a fun ride with tongue planted firmly in cheek. An over-the-top imitator of Schwarzenegger pops up all over the place (actually, it's Destroy The Runner vocalist, Chad Ackerman, doing a spot-on imitation) offering commentary and “singing” along with Lambesis, which is as funny as it sounds. Taken for what it is, a satirical fan tribute, TOTAL BRUTAL is a great way for any fan of Arnold and heavy metal to whittle away forty minutes but most others should probably pass on this.
The eye-catching, Ed Repka cover art sums up the overall theme of TOTAL BRUTAL—Arnold fronting a metal band to “communicate some of the deep feelings I had while filming the classics.” Wavering between ripping, groove-based thrash (“Get To The Choppa”) to bouncy melodic NWOBHM (“I Am A Cybernetic Organism, Living Tissue Over (Metal) Endoskeleton”), the songs on TOTAL BRUTAL motor along with humorous interludes separating the madness (“What It's Like To Be A Singer At Band Practice” and “So Far, So Good, So Let's Talk About It” are especially good). Not to be mistaken for a throwaway comedy album, the music here is actually pretty good, even more remarkable given the fact Lambesis reportedly spent little more than an hour writing each song in his spare time. Several guest guitar solos from Adam D. (Killswitch Engage), Nick Hipa (As I Lay Dying) and the guys from Daath up the metallic ante and will surely have more than a few listeners doing air guitar whammy dives off their living room couches. Perhaps the most stunning thing about TOTAL BRUTAL is that this project even got released. How many people could walk into a label’s office and say, “Hey, will you foot the bill for my new band? The whole point of it is Arnold Schwarzenegger movies set to music.” Lambesis’ clout with Metal Blade Records through the success of As I Lay Dying obviously helped but it still puts a smile on my face imagining him pitching this to Brian Slagel.
Obviously, Austrian Death Machine is going to have a fairly limited niche audience. Fans of As I Lay Dying will undoubtedly check it out due to Lambesis’ involvement but anyone who grew up worshipping Arnold Schwarzenegger movies will certainly appreciate what Lambesis has done here. Schwarzenegger became a caricature of himself and his movies were so over-the-top and cheesy that it was hard not to love them. TOTAL BRUTAL captures that essence perfectly. Great fun all around.
KILLER KUTS: “Get To The Choppa,” “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers,” “I Am A Cybernetic Organism, Living Tissue Over (Metal) Endoskeleton,” “It’s Not A Tumor”