Dethklok! Dethklok! Dethklok!! I fucking loved their first album, and the first season of the show Metalocalypse; which featured the dysfunctional Dethklok, and their adventures in blood, metal, and death. I bought the tab book, and even learned how to play a few of the songs; no easy feat, because they were fast songs. Then the second album and season arrived, and I got a bit wore out on them as it was a bit on the repetitive side; ok, I actually thought it sucked, but that’s neither here nor there. Then Dethklok creator Brendon Small does a solo album, and I had never heard of it; that is until I was sent the sequel to it a couple of days ago. Galaktikon II: Become the Storm, was released through Megaforce Records on August 25th, 2017, and is a conceptual album that follows the space age story that 2012’s Galaktikon started. Working with Brendon are Dethklok alumni Bryan Beller (who has worked with Steve Vai, Dweezil Zappa, etc.), and extreme drummer extraordinaire, Gene Hoglan (If you don’t know who Gene Hoglan worked with I’m not telling you, and you should be ashamed of yourself). Galaktikon II sounds like a Brendon Small creation, but instead of getting redundant, and stale, he seems to have taken this quite a few steps further than he and Dethklok ever ventured. I honestly was expecting this to bore the shit out of me, (sorry, Brendon) but I was quite happy to hear elements that were new to me. Small has this to say about his musical evolution, “This record is a combination of all the sounds I’ve been making throughout my creative life. It’s as heavy as I want it to be and melodic as I want it to be – it’s the bigger, darker record I wanted to hear. And what a way to celebrate my 10-year anniversary of making metal with Gene, Bryan and Ulrich, some of the best in the industry. I’m excited to have it live inside listeners’ heads and let their imaginations take over!”
“Nightmare” was one song that felt so much better to me, yet still retained some of his classic sound and heaviness. The fact that there’s clean vocals, a hard rock sound colliding with the metallic chaos of Dethklok made this a pleasure to listen too. Brendon has always been a phenomenal player, and, upon hearing this album, I have discovered he is one hell of a songwriter as well. The intro guitar is an exercise in finger dexterity, and then transitions into a galloping riff that has a heavy edge. The clean vocals are sometimes reminiscent of something you’d hear in symphonic metal; just without the super highs that those guys usually hit, although he does get up there further than I would have imagined. The next song, “Could This Be the End” is a blistering number, and Brendon’s vocals are just brutal for the verse parts, and clean and powerful in other areas of this song. This is another song that mixes brutality with melody, and is pulled off to stunning ends. The drumming is next level awesome, but then again, it’s Gene Hoglan, so of course it is. Bryan Beller is a versatile bassist, and the fact that he plays metal like a champ, and then goes and tours with Steve Vai (he was great on the Where the Wild Things Are DVD) says a lot about his prowess as a musician.
To say that I was surprised by this album would be an understatement. Shocked, astonished, stunned…. pick one, because they all fit. Galaktikon II: Become the Storm is really cool, and I appreciate that Brendon Small doesn’t just stick to what most fans want; which is obviously another Metalocalypse resurgence. Personally, I’m just fine with him continuing onward and upward, growing and putting out music that isn’t what you’d expect. After hearing this I am going to go back and listen to its precursor; it’s got to be good too I would think. So give this a listen, even if you got tired of Dethklok like I did, because it’s got that classic Metalocalypse sound, and a whole lot more going for it.