If you’re a fan of Dethklok, the fictional stars of the Metal-themed animated television series Metalocalypse, you’d be forgiven for thinking Galaktikon sound rather familiar. The two bands, or perhaps more accurately projects, have exactly the same line-up, centered on Brendon Small (vocals, guitars, keyboards, producer). According to drummer Gene Hoglan, Galaktikon II: Become the Storm is essentially a Dethklok album, though licensing issues prohibit the use of the name. While the riffing and at times the vocal style is somewhat similar, viewing Galaktikon II: Become the Storm as a Dethklok album highlights how downbeat and depressive it is. This is not a sound befitting a comedy series about the world’s most brutal band. Rather, it is a sci-fi horror that ironically struggles to find its way out of being one dimensional.
‘Become the Storm’ introduces some familiar sounds, though the vocals come out of left-field with their sci-fi twist that would be at home on an Industrial or Aggrotech album. In terms of the sci-fi nature, unsurprisingly influences from Devin Townsend’s Ziltoid albums, as well as Ayreon are discernible here and throughout the album. Being quite mournful, the track feels more like an ending than a beginning, in the vein of King Diamond’s ‘Mommy’ from Abigail II: The Revenge.
‘The Agenda’ includes a still very downbeat guitar “lead” that is somewhat buried under the riffs, and quickly introduces a haltingly disjointed time signature alongside clean vocals. The timing is a little dissociative, leading the listener to cling to the vocals even when it all becomes more settled. The track brings to mind a post-apocalyptic battlefield, but does show off Small’s varied vocal abilities to excellent effect.
Visions of war-torn worlds continue in ‘The Ocean Galaktik,’ and might lead one to think of the planet Junkion from Transformers or the junk world of Raxus Prime from the Star Wars video game The Force Unleashed. The vocals are heavy and doom-laden, recalling Tiamat’s Johan Edlund or Dimmu Borgir’s ICS Vortex. These vocals carry the listener a little more than in previous tracks, and as the music kicks into something more uplifting for the first time on the album, we can once again hear shades of Ayreon.
From here, the album tends to pick up a very fast pace, certainly with the dark and urgent ‘Some Days are for Dying,’ which is reminiscent of more recent Cradle of Filth (with the exception of the upcoming release, Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay). ‘Icarus Six Sixty Six’ contrasts only mildly through being a little lighter in tone, though ‘Could this be the End’ is one of the easier tracks to get into. It’s probably the most directly Dethklok-like of all the tracks on the album, particularly in the verses; though the chorus is still very downbeat.
‘My Name is Murder’ is interesting for its more Thrash approach, with keyboard elements that keep the vibe discordant. ‘Nightmare’ then brings the mood right down, deep and ominous with vocals that bring to mind Downward Spiral-era Trent Reznor. The guitar parts in this track could be sweeping and uplifting, but remain tuned to a depressive tone. Nevertheless, the track does manage to become somewhat triumphant despite the dirge-like music.
Things go a bit off the rails with ‘Exitus,’ which honestly sounds more like Paradise Lost forgot to play in time than anything. However, it develops into a quiet section that is reasonably melodic and pleasant, with some very enjoyable vocal harmonies towards the end.
The sci-fi vibe returns in full force with the gladiatorial ‘To Kill a God’ before the album closes with ‘Rebuilding a Planet.’ Thankfully this track does have some hope injected into it, while remaining mournful. There seems to have been an attempt to capture the light-heartedness of Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien, up to and including the lack of vocals on this first and only instrumental track. The lack of vocals however leaves the listener without a sense of closure, and at the end of the day, Galaktikon II: Become the Storm is not a particularly satisfying album. Though the sci-fi epic works in theory, the emotional range was sorely lacking, leaving the album feeling like a hodgepodge of too-similar tracks. For a headbanging romp that will leave you smiling, you’d best break out the old Dethklok albums; Galaktikon II: Become the Storm is an interesting novelty, but not an essential addition to your collection.