Review Summary: A new high.
In general, heavy music is currently witnessing an influx of newly discovered talent. Artists such as Code Orange, Oathbreaker, HECK and Employed to Serve are all creating clamorous bleeps on the radar due to the huge presence each band is swiftly creating. One characteristic that all these bands, and numerous other young upcoming bands, share in common is their bold ambition in building bridges between subgenres. These bands have formed in an age where the walls between genres are smashed, not reinforced, and the cliché term ‘that’s not metal’ is a thing of the past.
Since 2011’s release of Blood Command’s first EP, “Hand Us the Alpha Male”
, the Norwegians have been putting out music free from the restraints genre-categorisation. So much so, that the band’s guitarist Yngve Andersen has even coined the term ‘deathpop’ as the self-stylised definition of their sound. Criminally underrated and released only a year after their debut LP and EP, “Funeral Beach”
passed under virtually everyone’s radar despite how well Blood Command exhibited their spirited take on melding together heavy metal, punk, hardcore and pop.
Between “Funeral Beach”
and the release of their new album, “Cult Drugs”
, there has been a slight change in the band’s line up. Replacing Silje Tombre on vocal duties, Karina Ljone brushes off any potential pressure and focuses on continuing to display an exhilarating vocal performance that was missing in the band after her predecessor’s departure. Her skittish delivery twists between sweetly innocent, full of life and viciously volatile at the flip of a switch. She’s at her most maniacal during the punk-infused “White Skin//Tanned Teeth” and “Gang Signs” which both flaunt frantic snarls, yelps and screams against an equally hysterical pace set by her peers. While these changes are volatile, they are executed at calculated moments that allow the rest of Blood Command enough room to express their individual talents without having to shift into a lower gear of energy.
When Blood Command nails this balance between energy and melody, the results are captivating. Through a wormhole of vibrant grooves and punching bass, the chorus in the title track becomes a standout moment for “Cult Drugs”
as each instrument melds into one raving melody alongside Karina’s anthemic singing. It’s an irresistibly enjoyable moment that proves how powerful the effect Blood Command has on making people get up and move. Individually, each band member possesses their own potent contribution to this album. Whether it’s Yngve Andersen’s spiralling melodies during “You Can’t Sit with Us”, Sigurd Haakaas’ explosive drumming patterns in “Ctrl + Art + Delete” or Simon Oliver Økland’s constant bouncing bass throughout the album, the spotlight is shared equally around the band as they gambol around this trip.
These collective attacks are effective, perhaps even used to frequently, but the experimental moments of “Cult Drugs”
are also full of charisma. Various colours are painted into this album to make the soundscape even more interesting. Odd, upbeat percussion pattering around on “Nervous Laughter” that gives the song a bombastic feeling while “Initiation Tape #1” is the most pop/disco/rave infused song on the album with waving synth and irresistible grooves. The most experimental track is the closer, “(The World Covered in) Purple Shrouds”. Starting with upbeat trumpets and finishing with disco synth with jagged riffs and crazy drumming in between, on paper, none of this should work together, but Blood Command makes it work so well.
As a result, Blood Command exhibit exactly what young bands should be doing. Their music is full of talent, packed with energy and overflowing with a potential to be greater than they already are. Also, this band has made the term ‘deathpop’ a thing… And this thing is brilliant.