From Dethklok to Galaktikon: The 10 best songs from Brendon Small
The man behind Metalocalypse picks the ten best songs throughout his very metal career
Brendon Small gave the world Metalocalypse – an adult cartoon following the br00tal misadventures of the fictional metal band Dethklok. The soundtrack he wrote for them was suitably heavy, funny, and occasionally strangely poignant. When the show sadly ended after four seasons, he released a one off, all-star rock opera special, Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem in 2013, and then continued to explore surreal themes through his conceptual Galaktikon albums. We asked him to count down the top 10 songs from his fantastical realm. Dethklok dethklok!
"This was on the second episode of Metalocalypse, and it’s the song that put us on the map. I mostly consider it to be an instrumental guitar song with five lyrics that keep circling: revenge, ride, thunder, horse, and revenge! Storywise, I wanted to have something that was similar to The Who’s A Quick One, While He’s Away, and visually we kind of do that with barbarians and women – while one guy’s out of town, another guy starts sleeping with his wife. I somehow got to sneak it on Guitar Hero II."
"It was the single from The Doomstar Requiem, an hour-long rock opera Metalocalypse special with a 50-piece orchestra. And it was really cool, because I got to record the orchestra at Skywalker Ranch. Any guy who works in heavy metal or in cartoons that gets to cross the gateway of Skywalker Ranch is an excited guy. It’s not very futuristic; it’s kind of got that Pacific Northwest Twin Peaks vibe about it with these old craftsman houses, and sprawling acres of land. There are just a couple of little nods to Star Wars on the walls, but they do serve Chewbacca cookies while you’re recording!"
Crush The Industry
"This is one of my favourite songs, with one of my favourite riffs in it. It’s about the brutality of the stock markets. I heard some financial analyst on television, talking about where money goes when the market drops. And they said that money just disappears – it turns into fucking nothing. The ultimate brutality that your money disappears and you’re broke and you’re fucked and you’re starving. There’s a breakdown, and there’s this 3/4 riff during the part of the song where he starts listing off things that are just nothing now, like commodities and food and the most safe things you could invest in."
Prophecy Of The Lazer Witch
"A song from the first Galaktikon project. It’s really fun to get into this part, because the storytelling is somewhere between Wild Strawberries and Annie Hall. This guy goes and meets a therapist, who is the Lazer Witch. I really like powerful, mid-tempo dirges. I always think about The Sign Of The Southern Cross with Dio’s Sabbath, and The Prophet’s Song by Queen. I think of For Those About To Rock, by AC/DC. I love that medium tempo, and I don’t think it gets used enough in heavy metal. So I’m always trying to find that epic super ballad, but with guitars that are completely distorted and no clean guitars ever."
Murmaider II: The Water God
"I’m putting this one in here to cover that and the first Murmaider. It was fun taking a song and turning it into a song cycle and a continuing epic journey. It became bigger and more epic in the middle of the song, and I liked the ending of it, too. In my mind I’m thinking about AC/DC, even though I’m doing more traditional modern metal guitar playing on it. It’s another tale of vengeance, and the character gets a little too big for his britches. It’s about challenging god, and then becoming a god yourself, and doing it poorly and becoming more of a treacherous villain. Fun stuff!"
"It’s about a big comet coming to Earth and destroying anything that’s ever lived. That’s another theme that I picked up from Queen again, from The Prophet’s Song, which was about, ‘The Earth is ending, we’ve got to build an ark, we’ve got to save only part of humanity, and only part of the animals’, and so this one’s just about, ‘We’re not going to save anything; everyone’s obliterated.’ And it's really exciting for me, for that reason. And it’s got a really cool guitar outro. It’s quite destructive, just terrible parts of human nature – destroy, destroy, destroy."
On My Way
"It’s the first song where I really started understanding what the Galaktikon record would be. And even as I was improvising melodies and improvising lyrics, I realised it was about a superhero who’s on his way to go and save somebody, but the person he’s saving is someone who’s he’s got a really complicated relationship with, and he’s complaining the whole time that he’s on her way to save her. And it turns out it’s his ex-wife who’s taken a whole bunch of stuff from him, and it’s unresolved issues after unresolved issues. And it’s got a fun, hooky chorus that you’re used to hearing on the Dethklok stuff."
"Most of the song is sung from a woman’s point of view, which is something I haven’t heard much of in heavy metal. It’s about a group of women who become empowered and start castrating a bunch of men, and um… basically, read the chorus lyrics. It’s really fucked up. There’s a part where the woman cuts off a guy’s dick and says, ‘Bleed on the floor like a bitch’, and the man’s saying, ‘I’m bleeding like how you bleed – how can you still be alive?’ Which is asking how a woman can still live through every month. It’s comical in nature, but there’s a brutal realism to it."
"It’s a song of exciting empowerment that’s bookended by two horrible situations. Toki Wartooth is awaiting his death, and while he’s waiting, he thinks of his happiest moment to calm himself down, which is getting into the band Dethklok. It’s a little boy who found his dream. And while the rest of the band is talking about money, he’s talking about his heart. So you get to see the difference between him and the other characters. It’s not heavy metal at all – it’s almost more inspired by Raspberry Beret-era Prince. You can hear it in the keyboards, and it’s a major key song."
Go Into The Water
"This is the song I’m trying to beat all the time. There’s another planet on the same planet we live on, and it’s exciting down there because we don’t know what’s going on, and there’s a religion down there. And this whole song’s about devolution. It’s about regressing back to single-celled amoebas. Not moving forward but moving backwards, and not becoming humans any more but becoming paramecia. Becoming an animal again. And that comes up again in some other songs. And it’s got big, epic Brian May Queen style moments; it’s just a bigger, more powerful song."