It's easy to dismiss the Metal Shakespeare Company as one big joke. There's something inherently hilarious about four twentysomething-year-old dudes from Portland who dress in Shakespearean costumes and set the Bard's greatest soliloquies to Iron Maiden-styled metal. In the band's most recent music video (for "To Bleed or Not to Bleed," the MSC's musical version of Hamlet's famous speech to the departed Yorick in Act 3, Scene 1), a character is transformed into a donkey as lead singer Lord Simms serenades a skull and drummer William Sly throws up devil horns between beats. But despite all the kistch, it's clear that the Metal Shakespeare Company is striving for authenticity. Aside from occasionally beefing up the chorus ("To be or not to be / Who are we that is the question / Matters not, to bleed or not to bleed / For we are metal!"), the songs are written to keep Shakespeare's original language and words intact. Even the band's MySpace page is written in Old English. And for those Bard-haters, the MSC is totally, undeniably metal: clean keyboard solos, super fast guitar riffs, and Lord Simms' Sebastian Bach-styled voice would rocketh mightily even without Shakespeare's words. With Brewtal Thirst.