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GALAKTIKON Galaktikon II: Become The Storm

By Brian Davis, The Velcro Merkin
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 7:43 AM

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Galaktikon II: Become The Storm

Megaforce Records

Brendon Small blasted onto the Metal scene in 2006 with the release of the now-legendary Adult Swim cartoon Metalocalypse, simultaneously delivering clever & catchy Death Metal and giving Metal fans the ultimate adult-themed cartoon series. Drenched in hyper-gory humor and a clever story line deftly playing on classic Death Metal tropes with adrenalized guitar-driven Metal pervading every episode, we entered the hyper-metalized world of DETHKLOK and for the first time ever Metalheads across the world were able to immerse themselves in a sustained visual incarnation of everything that was awesome about Death Metal. The first album release for DETHKLOK, Dethalbum I, remains the highest charting Death Metal album in history, and was followed by 2 more savagely heavy yet hilarious albums and extensive touring that turned DETHKLOK from a virtual cartoon-bound incarnation to one of the most influential Death Metal bands of all time. And though that door was suddenly slammed shut in fans’ faces by the inevitable callous corporate machinations of Adult Swim, we were treated to 4 seasons of epically brutal awesomeness and the name Brendon Small became permanently associated with exceptional ass kicking Metal.

So in 2012 when, at the apex of the sweeping success of Metalocalypse and DETHKLOK, Brendon Small took a slightly divergent path into the melodic star-spun world of the Metal Space Opera with the release of Brendon Small’s GALAKTIKON, its independent compositional integrity and atmospheric “metalody” was overlooked by many or dismissed outright in favor of the by-the-numbers Metal of DETHKLOK. Nevertheless, though not as musically compelling, GALAKTIKON established Small’s propensity for stretching quality Metal into an under-represented world of spaced out melody with a humorous galaxy-trotting tale of the pitfalls of divorce in the far reaches of space. Songs like “Beastblade” and “Prophecy Of The Lazer Witch” embodied the ultimate balance between Small’s riff driven Metal and potent musical & vocal melody, proving his capacity for diversity while maintaining his excellence as a songwriter & musician.

No longer able to continue under the DETHKLOK moniker, some (namely drummer Gene Hoglan) say that the release of Galaktikon II: Become The Storm is supposed to really be the new DETKLOK album in disguise; while this appears to be very much the case lyrically and though the album is heavier both musically & vocally than the first GALAKTIKON album, be aware that this collection of inter-connected songs are not exactly what you would conventionally expect from a DETHKLOK-related release (although the orchestrally grand final DETHKLOK release Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem helped to point the music in this direction while incorporating a story-telling approach). If anything, this new album is the result of an interstellar collision between DETHKLOK and the first GALAKTIKON, melding into a perfect balance of the two sounds and weaving a darker-yet-still-cosmic tapestry of meteoric Metal.

Maintaining a don’t-fix-what-isn’t-broken approach, Small sustains his creative loyalty to the tried-and-true-trio of drummer Gene Hoglan, bassist Bryan Beller and producer Ulrich Wild, perhaps the most critical element of the music and the key to the consistent quality of everything Brendon Small has released. Whether they’re crushing through the straightforward heaviness of tracks like “Some Days Are For Dying” and “My Name Is Murder” or deftly maneuvering through powerful metalized melody of “Could This Be The End” and the album’s strongest track “Nightmare”, there’s a pervading sense of balance and flow directly resulting from the consistency & skill they all bring to the table.

Conceptually there are two primary points to be aware of: a.) this story is completely unrelated to the first GALAKTIKON album’s concept and b.) this story serves as the epic earth-saving climax to the Metalocalypse storyline and may well be the last we see/hear of Nathan Explosion, William Murderface, Pickles, Toki Wartooth & Skwisgar Skwigelf. It’s also important to point out that whereas with the first three DETHKLOK albums the music was fictitiously created & performed by the cartoon band, Become The Storm is like The Doomstar Requiem in that it is a musical story about them – which justifies the fact that the music is compositionally different than anything you would hear from the fictional band’s death & dismemberment approach to Metal.

Currently there is little available to clearly establish the full storyline, and with the need to sidestep legal conflicts that would come with direct reference to DETHKLOK and the Metalocalypse universe there is an understandable vagueness in that regard. That said, with much help from a small handful of die hard Brendon Small & Metalocalypse/DETHKLOK Redditors piecing together each song’s lyrics, here are the broad strokes of the official yet unofficial finale to the Metalocalypse saga: the story picks up where The Doomstar Requiem cartoon “finale” left off, with Earth imperiled by a galactic doom (“Some Days Are For Dying”) and the rest of DETHKLOK hurtling clumsily through the depths of space (“Icarus Six Six Six”) at the guidance of a benevolent goddess (“The Ocean Galaktik”) pursuing a dark-energy possessed Murderface carrying out “The Agenda” of an evil entity (“My Name Is Murder”) bent of the planet’s destruction. Surviving an assault on the planet, the rest of DEKTHKLOK are galvanized to defend the Earth and defeat the threat (“Become The Storm”); meanwhile Murderface clings to what’s left of his will & humanity holding hope that his brothers will rescue him (“Nightmare”), who indeed reunite with their lost brother and the now-whole band prepares to confront the evil (“Could This Be The End”). “To Kill A God” brings DETHKLOK face-to-face with the would-be destroyer of Earth, and in the climactic confrontation of “Exitus” they ultimately vanquish the threat through self-sacrifice, ending with what seems to be their rescue from the brink of death and the hope-laced melodic instrumental “Rebuilding A Planet” encapsulating the stubborn, tenacious survival of Earth and its inhabitants as they begin the arduous process of recovery.

Both conceptually & lyrically, the journey of DETHKLOK has undergone an impressive metamorphosis over the years and some serious accolades are owed to Brendon Small for brilliantly navigating the unfortunate end of the Metalocalypse cartoon with all its legal pitfalls and shifting the delivery of the tale through a musical evolution that amazingly shifted GALAKTIKON from a stylistically unrelated project to the perfect mechanism to simultaneously carry the story of DEKTHKLOK to a fitting end while establishing a broad capacity for various styles of Metal that are guaranteed to keep carrying Brendon Small up the ranks as one of the most talented minds to ever grace the land- and starscapes of the Metal universe. Well played, sir, well played.

4.0 Out Of 5.0

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