Described by their press blurb as post hardcore, Blood command live in a weird alternative universe where The Yeah Yeah Yeahs grew up listening to Refused and Sick of it all rather than the Sex Pistols and David Bowie. Fronted by singer Silje whose vocals impressively range from angelic to demonic (often in the same song) the band certainly offer up a fresh take on the post hardcore genre, their infectious melodies often lying at the heart of some furiously heavy riffs. ‘Funeral beach’ is the band’s second album and far from sounding like the band had a traumatic experience recording what the press love to call ‘the difficult second album’, Blood Command sound as if they’re revelling in the experience over the course of the album’s thirty-seven bruising minutes.
As opening song titles go, ‘pissed off and slightly offended’ has to be one of the all-time greats. The song itself is also strong, providing a solid introduction to Blood Command’s riff-filled world. Guitarist Yngve (together with Dag Erik Nygaard) has done a great job of capturing the band’s raw yet melodic sound and whilst the instruments all benefit from the clarity afforded to them, it is Silje whose voice shines out from the centre of every song who benefits from the excellent production. Musically, meanwhile, Blood Command are a heavy, versatile band entirely unafraid of melody and pop hooks when it suits them. ‘march of the Swan elite’ is another track that emphasises the band’s hardcore leanings, Silje’s voice teetering on the verge of permanent damage over a rampaging backing track that takes no prisoners. ‘Cult of the new beast’ similarly rocks with a vengeance, but with a hook-laden chorus inserted into the song’s heart that cheerfully invades your brain at the most inconvenient of moments leaving you whistling it at work or in a library with the resultant embarrassment that such random attacks of whistling frequently incur. It’s all part of Blood Command’s not inconsiderable charm and it demonstrates just how strong their devilish melodies are. The band’s sense of humour resurfaces on the cockily titled ‘death to all but us’ which offers a strong melody over a paired back verse that gives the listener a break from the near constant insanity found elsewhere. That’s not to say it’s not heavy – it still kicks off with a blistering chorus – but the rather more subtle verse offers Silje’s voice greater room to breathe.
‘Wolves at the door’ is something of an album highlight with searing riffs and off-kilter percussion hammering home the simple, memorable chorus, guaranteeing hectic, mosh-pit sing-alongs whilst the band’s clever juxtaposition of quiet passages makes the heavy elements sound all the more crushing. ‘High five for life’ is rather more generic, and whilst it’s not a bad track, the familiar nature of the melody makes it seem far less inspired than the other tracks here, although its sneaky reference to Vanilla Ice is pretty cool. Happily ‘here next to murderous’ sees the band hit their stride again with a track that takes a poppier approach recalling nothing so much as the Marilyn Manson (who is name-checked in the song) album ‘mechanical Animals’. ‘True North’ sees the pace picking up again as the band accelerate towards the conclusion of the album, the riffs heating up over the rolling thunder of the percussion. ‘Corpse reviver’ is similarly off-centre, the bouncy percussion providing the perfect eccentric backdrop for the bruising chorus which sees Silje roaring out the vocals with unwavering vitriol. ‘Oceans inside Neptune’ is a belter of a tune, a memorable, hard-rocking blast that neatly summarises Blood Command’s strongest elements and then the final, title track leaves things on a suitably heavy note, the guitars churning away into the darkness before leaving you to hit play and get your fix of melody all over again.
For those who like their metal furious and full-on, there’s a good chance that Blood Command will not be the band for you – there are huge swathes of pop song-writing nous shot through the band’s post hardcore sound that will undoubtedly cause more than a few teeth to grind – but for those who enjoy their heavy music laced with melody and attitude than Blood Command are well worth checking out. The band’s (not so) hidden weapon is without a doubt vocalist Silje whose impressive range does much to add depth to the songs, but the whole band have pulled together to deliver a solid performance on this second album. ‘Funeral Beach’ is a memorable, tuneful, punk-infused experience that is well worth checking out.