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BLOOD COMMAND: World Domination

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Hassle Records

Out now

Ever since ex-Pagan – and Australian – vocalist Nikki Brumen threw caution to the wind and flew off to Norway to join established local band Blood Command a couple of years ago life has been anything but dull.

After taking a massive leap of faith and relocating her life practically to the other side of the world, Brumen has made every post a winner, claiming the hearts and ears of music lovers from her home country to Norway to everywhere in between with a blistering and rapid integration into Blood Command that has simply brought out the best in both parties.

Brumen and founding member Yngve Andersen (who was instrumental in convincing Brumen that her future lay with Blood Command) have formed a highly creative musical bond which started with Brumen’s first album as vocalist, Praise Armaggedonism, which came out not long after she made the trek to Norway in 2022. It was an album that she joined after most of the heavy lifting had already been done but it was enough to give fans an insight into what she would bring to Blood Command while also reaffirming her decision and position as frontwoman for a band with existing international repute.

It’s no surprise then that Blood Command released the follow-up album World Domination less than a year and a half after Praise Armaggedonism with the reaction to this particular collection of songs promising a truer gauge to Brumen’s credentials.

The band released half a dozen singles prior to the September album release, which sounds unusually high until you take into account the album features 20 songs in total. Each track differed sometimes substantially from the previous, with an eclectic assortment of tunes on offer giving no firm indication of what to expect from the complete body of work.

Opening with what sounds like trumpets calling a medieval adversary, The Band With The Three Stripes leaves no doubt whatsoever that Blood Command have thrown convention and expectation out of the window, instead favouring a fresh and honest approach to songwriting which only comes from confidence in your vision.

Drums kick in menacingly before guitars start screeching and all of a sudden we are ripped from the clutches of brass meanderings and into a tirade of aggressive intent as Brumen menaces her way into the track with the subtlety of a rampaging rhino.

Guitarist Yngve Andersen and bass player Snorre Kilvær both contribute as well on synthesizers and backing vocals, while guitarist Benjamin Berge also assists on backing vocals so I know already that picking who does what at respective junctures is a point in futility so I shan’t even bother. Suffice to say their ferocious musical assault paired with the bombastic drumming from Sigurd Haakaas is already a force unto themselves. It’s so intense that I had to hit the pause button just to commit this last paragraph to paper!

Anyway, back to the music and the four gentlemen manage to enforce some menacing gang vocals woven between Brumen’s raging battle. Then things change completely as the pace eases slightly and the guitars take us down a more rock-fueled path that she is having none of.

There’s so much going on here that it should sound like an overlapping mess but somehow it doesn’t, instead driving with the ferocity of a rampaging lumberjack who moonlights as a musketeer. Sound odd?

That’s because it is.

Heaven’s Hate begins with a whirl of guitars before Brumen takes Umbridge at someone or something, impolitely proclaiming them to be nothing more than motherfuckers who may or may not have eaten her last piece of chocolate.

And then it’s over, 1 minute and twelve seconds of snarling venom laced with poison.that drips with intent.

Valley Of Hinnom is up next and kicks straight into gear with a tasty guitar riff and rapid drumming that is the perfect segue into Brumen’s vocal tirade that once more takes aim at an unseen nemesis and barks savagely for just under one minute before she feels like she has made her point and directs us into the next track Forever Soldiers Of Esther.

I know from chatting with Brumen and Anderson previously that this track was written as a tribute to Anderson’s deceased mother so I’m expecting something a little less frenetic, which, to be honest, would be a welcome momentary respite.

But Blood Command are having none of it, piercing guitars and rapid-fire drums enticing Brumen’s inner demon out to play once more but before she takes full aim at her next sonic victim things take a drastic turn and she slips straight into a clean vocal section that highlights her range until a quick flick of the guitar sends things spiraling back into chaos.

Brumen effortlessly switches from clean to harsh vocals, led from one to the other by a rolling background of guitar play offset by a sublimally thunderous drum assault which acts as a volatile conductor to the opposing forces of light and shade.

Stay Awake spits out next, and with such sonic disparity on offer so far I know I will have no problems following orders here. It’s another short, sharp burst of brutality from Blood Command ceasing to exist in under 50 seconds but that is more than enough to make their point.

Bare Witness awaits next and has a brief spoken word section that submits to a guitar run which sees Brumen answer the call to arms and once more I find myself feeling almost sorry for whoever has sparked her passion on this album.

But I’m sure they deserve every ounce of spite hurled in their direction because, believe it or not, the members of Blood Command I have spent time with are all calm, courteous and respectful individuals.

Not that you could tell from listening to this album.

About 1.30 in Brumen shelves her harsh vocals in favour of a more spoken word dialogue that is still abrasive as fuck but much more approachable than what has come before.

The Plague On Both Your Houses (I told you they were pissed off. Not one house, but BOTH of them) eases into business awash with a menacing guitar riff that threatens to explode at any given moment but rather than encourage such an outcome Brumen enters with a punkier edge that still harbors enough animosity to serve warning of things to come.

Her rapid-fire vocals are tempered by an eclectic array of guitar contributions ranging from all-out aggression to pop-tinged harmonics layered over the top of an almost spaghetti Western feel that defies logic.

But it works. Again.

Even the brass section that sits just below the other instruments towards the back end of the songs feels justified as Blood Command chop and change musical direction quicker than I con convey.

Bloody show-offs.

In The Shadow Of Deaf has a massive and full intro passage that quickly denigrates into an all-out punk-infused assault that would cause havoc in a moshpit. Perhaps sensing this Blood Command call time on the song well short of the one-minute mark and the moshers live to fight another day.

Welcome To The Next Level Above Human starts with a round of stuttering electronics that submit to a video game vocal announcement that throws about as big of a curveball into the playing arena as you could summon. It’s quirky and fun and offers a brief foray into the sporadic nature of Blood Command that until now had lay dormant, perhaps in fear of going against the increasingly anarchistic nature of what has almost been the first half of the album.

It’s Not Us, It’s Them has the honour of heralding the midway point of World Domination and wastes little time in bringing back the rage throughout its short but effective 27-second running time.

Hate Us Cause They Aint Us reminds me of a line from a movie I have seen countless times but for the life of me I can’t remember what it is called. And that’s gonna shit the life out of me because I can even hear the accent in my head but the pictures are just not coming together.

As expected it is another tirade of pent-up aggression that is given substance by a commanding guitar presence that almost manages to take my mind off that fucken movie…

Keep My Seat Warm sounds like it could involve a touch of toilet humour but if it does Blood Command have failed to see the funny side of things as they once more set about pounding the world into submission.

A cool as fuck bass run about 25 seconds in adds a nice touch but it only serves to delay the inevitable as Brumen once more takes aim at anything and everything and lets rip with gusto.

There’s some wicked musical interplay at work in this song, guitar and bass sending us spinning in any one of a number of alternating rabbit holes that all seem to lead to damnation.

Burn Again starts with what could be the sounds of someone loading a shotgun but rather than lead us hurtling towards another sonic battle it shifts tact markedly and morphs into a rap-dominated number that is unexpected and mildly disturbing.

While not even mounting the curb of my musical tastes you have to admire Blood Command for having the confidence and willingness to throw a metaphorical cat amongst the pigeons in such polarizing fashion. It is almost as much a statement of intent as anything they have dished out thus far and acts as a warning of sorts for us all to not get too comfortable.

Decades begins with a 1980s retro feel awash with electronics and keys.

Lyrically it remains full of hate and spite, and for one of the first times on the album, you can actually understand and comprehend the contempt inherent in Brumen’s lyrics.

For some reason, my mind flicks to Flashdance and that era of music but instead of increasing tempo Decades defers to a calmer passage, retreating within itself and easing down the path of least resistance.

Reap What You Sew sounds like it will be another round of injustice and it doesn’t disappoint with Brumen not even bothering to warm into battle, preferring to fire with both barrels from the moment the world opened up and exposed the cowering underbelly of her intended prey.

Blue North begins with some electronics before the instruments chime in with a committed glare of solidarity. This is a sporadic number with the tempo rising and falling at will but somehow managing to retain coherency.

Holy Unblack explodes from the gates and continues on a path of destruction before a momentary pause entices a tasty bass run that acts as a buffer between explosive rage and cautious indecision. This carries the track to its final resting space barely reaching sixty seconds of maniacal precision before calling time in preparation for the run home.

The title track rounds the corner three from home with a calming guitar-led intro that succumbs to a sonically barren landscape from which Brumen showcases the softer side of her musical persona amid rap-style outbursts that seem to be battling the calming influence World Domination seems intent on offering.

This is another temptation into the musical journey undertaken by Blood Command over the course of this album. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason and no connection by subtle means or otherwise between the fluctuating assortment of musical tastes explored on World Domination, but Blood Comand have found a way to make it work.

Which is never more evident than on the next song Losing Faith, an acoustic number bordering on the Countrier side of Western.

It sounds like a duet between Brumen and Anderson, with each providing dominant vocals at differing junctures of the song. Their harmonies work beautifully together and offer yet another peak inside the musical psyche of a band that is so much more than it appears on the surface.

Tetragram closes the album in serenious fashion, a piano-led intro passage that gives off a feeling of completion. It would have been easy – predictable in fact – for Blood Command to leave us with another round of aggression but instead, they have chosen to allow us to drift into nothingness, possibly reflecting on what we have just listened to but more likely highlighting the boundless shades of light and dark that make up the nucleus of their being.

World Domination is an unusual album in that when dissected should contain many moments of confusion, but when taken as a singular body of work is more of a journey into the mechanisms of a creative group of like-minded individuals who have nothing to prove.

Not even to themselves.

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