OK, this is going to be a weird one as Pentakill isn’t a real band. Well. It is. It’s got real people in it… only it… doesn’t. OK. Rewind. You all know that Dethklok are a band put together for a (rather awesome) cartoon? So it’s real musicians covering for fictional musicians within the show. OK, so imagine that someone did that in a MMORPG environment. Yes, this is geeky/nerdy and revolves around League of Legends.
- Kayle, a golden warrior goddess who communicates via grand, symphonic metal operas, the depthless sorrow of her arias pierce the hearts of all who hear them. Literally.
- Karthus, a hooded reciter of funeral dirges, who made a career touring squalid dive bars to sing at the drunken wakes of murdered pirates instead.
- Yorick, who chose to vacation in the sun-bleached wastes of Shurima. Sunlight was something new to him, something he normally avoided for fear of people recoiling from a face not even a mother could love. His unique bass was the perfect tool to crush the soft rock of Shurima, but often had the side effect of liquefying the sand to a degree where many of the workers excavating distant tombs were buried alive.
- Sona, who took ship with the the doomed crew of the Serpent’s Feast to a series of volcanic islands, and began to sculpt the island with sonic brutality. There she unleashed the music of creation.
- Olaf sought to drink himself to death with the deadliest booze of Runeterra and soon found himself embroiled in underground golem fight-clubs. Up against chem-powered giants, Olaf found his natural talent for pounding drums was also good for pounding mechanical automatons to pieces.
- Mordekaiser had a mountain fall on him and he took it as a sign from the Gods of Metal that his demonically-ordained task to bring metal to the masses was done, that he had achieved full metal. Upon the mountain’s highest summit, the gleaming, obsidian shaft of a snarling axe protruded from the rock. Legends grew around this cursed place, legends that foretold whosoever drew the axe from the mountain would be the true herald of a new age of metal.
So all very, wonderfully nutty. And then up stepped some random folk to dress themselves in these literary costumes – Danny Lohner of Nine Inch Nails, Mike Pitman of Xerath, Noora Louhimo of Battle Beast, Per Johansson of Ureas, Scott Kirkland of The Crystal Method… and some dude called Tommy Lee along with a few others. And, lo, an EP was written and recorded. It went right up the iTunes charts despite not being advertised anywhere other than within League of Legends. Mind, with 100 million online players, that’s a pretty decent audience.
A couple of years on and a full album has just been unleashed. II: Grasp of the Undying features a huge array of talent, and has been backed by a staggering video that ramped up a couple of million views inside of a day or two. Even their website is ridiculously cool as you’d expect from something birthed in the depths of nerd-dom. Head to it and hit the scroll wheel on your mouse – it doesn’t just scroll, it zooms in. OK, I’m a nerd and I loved it.
So what’s the music like? Well, it’s varied. Given that some songs have one singer, others someone else, it’s a little like a compilation. Throughout, it’s definitely “heavy metal” with little touches of power, orchestral and epic more than anything else. I’d not say there’s a bad song on here, but there’s also nothing staggeringly, mind-blowingly good. As a collection of tracks, it’s definitely enjoyable and surpasses the “novelty” label it could so easily be lumbered with.
What really sets it apart is that theme and “history”, together with the work that’s gone into making the whole thing bigger than just an album. I’m very impressed with the names that Riot Games have managed to gather together and you’d expect nothing less than quality from the individuals involved.