When Brendon Small released his first Galaktikon album in April 2012, he was frantically writing music and dialogue for his Adult Swim cartoon series, Metalocalypse. Back then, Galaktikon was a welcome distraction, a melodic prog-death metal side project to blow off steam.
Then in March 2015, the network pulled the plug on the program and neutered Dethklok since Adult Swim owned the rights to the name.
“The television industry is a crazy world,” Small says. “The way I see it, you’re always just filling in for the pregnant lady. It’s like there’s a stay of execution from the start because you know it’s going to end sometime.”
Instead of bemoaning the demise of Dethklok following three successful albums and a full-blown metal opera (2013’s The Doomstar Requiem), Small is looking to the future. Musically, he’s now fully invested in the second Galaktikon album, Brendon Small’s Galaktikon II.
The group again features Dethklok alum, bassist Bryan Beller (Steve Vai, Mike Keneally) and drummer Gene Hoglan (Testament, Fear Factory), and they’ve recorded a second intricate concept album that should appeal to fans of his former main band. Galaktikon II features loud, layered guitars and mutitextured rhythms that blend the aggression of Amon Amarth with the complexity of early Joe Satriani.
“I wanted it to be a gift to the fans who have been very loyal over the years and who really gave a shit about Metalocalypse,” says the guitarist. “That’s how I started. It just grew from there and got more involved as we went along. But if you liked Dethklok, this isn’t that much of a stretch. It’s still really heavy and musically there are a lot of similarities.”
Small recorded most of the guitar parts for Galaktikon II at his home studio in Los Angeles, using a prototype Gibson charcoal burst Explorer he’s named the Night Horse.
“Basically, they fine tuned what I already liked about the Explorer and made it sound great,” he says. “We shaved off a bit of the neck joint so it’s a bit smoother and access is a little higher. And they did a reverse head. When we did this album I discovered that if I played something that sounded good on another guitar, it almost always sounds even better on the Night Horse.”