Galaktikon II: The Dethklok Album We've Been Waiting For, And More
The ongoing saga between Brandon Small, the creative mastermind behind animated death metal band Dethklok and Adult Swim, the production company and TV channel which owns the rights to Metalocalypse, is an excruciating for the fans who just want to see and hear more for the band. The Metalocalypse series was axed by Adult Swim after five series but despite Small's desire to carry on the Dethklok story - and the fans' excitement for him to do so - the naming rights are ensnared in AS' legal ownership. And so Small, backed once more by drummer Gene Holgan and bassist Bryan Beller, the two who are responsible for helping bring Dethklok to life, team up to release Galaktikon II, which follows on from their more melodically focused side project. But with the Dethklok issue still a sore point, the band have striven to achieve a fine balance between guttural, deathly metal and melodious and grandiose excursions too. Galaktikon's weak points - and there were many on the firrst record - are replaced by Dethklok fury and together the two make an interesting blend.
As Small says about the album: "This record is a combination of all the sounds I’ve been making throughout my creative life," and in many ways this is the Dethklok album we've been waiting for, but it's also so much more.
An intergalactic concept album, which includes an accompanying comic book expanding upon it's story of war, chaos and evil souls, it is by far Small's deepest, darkest and most diverse record yet.
For Dethklok fans, there are two obvious go to tracks. Icarus Six Sixty Six, with its breakneck pace and violence and the potently titled My Name Is Murder, which comes off like Dethklok smashing through Mastodon's Blood And Thunder. But it is moments like The Agenda where this record's magic lies. Sure, it's brilliant to here these musicians releasing fierce music again, Gene Holgan's footwork is fiery throughout and Beller's low end creates a fat but clear foundation for Small to then decorate as he chooses, but it is the combination of that with Galaktikon's more radio friendly, almost metalcore aesthetics that make this record different from the rest. This is Dethklok's Black Album.
It's on The Agenda they most seamlessly marry together barraging and abrasive death sounds with epic melodies, female voices and punchy syncopated crescendos- a technique they also nail on the shadowy, sexy The Ocean Galaktik. Small's risky but ultimately successful use of clean vocals here again differentiares this from an exclusively Dethklok flavoured release. Across the album his cleans can be hit or miss, but the most impressive and impacting moments certainly outweigh the weaker ones.
Elsewhere Become The Storm has a hint of Devin Townsend to it thanks to it's tight, biting rhythms and spacey use of vocoder which then turns to a fast, marching attack led by Small's most rabid vocal stylings. Nightmare hinges on a splintered riff and quiet, breathy vocals but also progresses down many interesting cinematic avenues. Could This Be The End is Dethklok gold as far as their new dynamically richer sound is concerned and Exitus too sounds like the animated musicians at their skyward reaching best. They close the album on the virtuosic instrumental Rebuilding a Planet which, while teeing us up for a possible sequel, finishes things off with a flurry of 'look what we can do', even if it is a little drawn out.
So Dethklok may have been strangled to death by baffling decisions from Adult Swim's decision makers, who are supposedly plowing all their time and money into Rick & Morty instead, but their sound isn't just living on with Galaktikon II, it's expanded and flourished. Just don't expect the purists to be happy about it.