Brendon Small's name is no secret to anyone who's ever been a fan of such cartoons as Home Movies, and the now more popular Metalocalypse. He is the creator of both, as well as the writer of it's music. Fans of the virtual death metal band Dethklok will likely be the biggest audience that this latest release will grab. Interestingly enough however, the sound on this album may surprise those who were looking for another death metal romp, as the songs here lean more towards standard power/progressive metal and hard rock than anything else, accompanied by melodic vocals instead of growls. Equipped with bassist Bryan Beller and drummer Gene Hoglan once again, we get a project that feels about the same, yet different.
One thing to note before going into my actual thoughts of the album, is the reason it was created and the premise behind it (as I actually think it's kind of a funny story). Brendon had just gotten Beller and Hoglan ready in order to start creating the second Dethalbum. Unfortunately, there were some legal negotiation issues, due to the actual negotiator going on a vacation. Instead of giving up or staying too mad, Brendon decided to write a solo album with Beller and Hoglan's help; thus, Galaktikon was born.
Small describes the album as an "audio comic book," and when you listen to the lyrics, it's not too hard to see why. This has got to be one of the cheesiest sci-fi plots I've read/listened to in quite some time, but I'd be lying if I said that didn't add to the album's appeal. The story centers around protagonist Triton, recently going through a painful divorce. He flies off into space to clear his head, where he finds a therapist who has a vision where she foresees danger in Triton's future. She warns him it will involve his ex-wife, and that he shouldn't try to save her, should the opportunity come. After this, his ex-wife gets kidnapped (of course) by Triton's old nemesis and Triton sets out to save her (of course!). Things get crazy once Triton finds out his ex-wife is actually dating the story's antagonist. Cue Triton getting kidnapped, getting into a crazy gladiator fight with a giant worm, and saving his ex once more, before saying his last goodbyes.
Now on to the actual music. If you are a true 'metalhead,' and basically eat, sleep, and breathe the style, then you won't really find much of anything new here. That does not make it bad however, as one may recall this is pretty much how every "Dethalbum" written to this point has gone. You don't find anything re-inventing the genre here, but you do get a nice dose of what makes that genre so enthralling in the first place. Guitar licks, raw bass action, and pulse pounding drums round off a project that one can simply refer to as "fun," without having to delve into something overly complex (while I admit, I am fan of both the former and the latter myself).
I would also like to make note of my two personal favorite tracks, "On My Way," the album's finisher and "Dangertits," apparently the best named song ever. I believe "On My Way" happens to also be the main single that was put out for the album, and I don't blame Brendon for it. You get a crazy fast shred-fest opener, a catchy hard rock pre-chorus melody, and a fast and heavy chorus/refrain to keep things moving. The bridge actually goes into more complex time signature patterns, putting the song in a similar category to the direction Iron Maiden took when they released "Brand New World" back in 2000. The other song "Dangertits," is an instrumental, and in my opinion, sort of a spiritual sequel to Small's Dethklok hit, "Thunderhorse." It follows a very similar structure of songwriting with some of the craziest arpeggios and shredding on the entire album. Small described this song as a tribute to guitarists like Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Steve Morse according to an interview. I'd say if you take any songs from the album, these would be the keepers.
In closing, I am happy to say that my reaction to this album was overall very positive. I wasn't expecting anything new, but was hoping for something cheesy and heavy to jam to (like Small's other works). I can confirm that this is exactly what you'll get with Galaktikon; no more and no less. I think I may even like the melodic vocals here more than the ones seen in the Dethklok releases. Brendon's voice actually sounds quite good with this type of music backing it up. This is a solid release, regardless of your preference.
8 Giant Gladiator Worms Out Of 10