Blood Command – Praise Armageddonism (Album Review)

It’s a rare moment when you should rush to gulp down the Kool-Aid. And yet, Norway’s Blood Command has definitely inspired a thirst for the sweet yet deadly on Praise Armageddonism, which arrived on July 1, 2022, thanks to Hassle Records.

Self-proclaimed DeathPop, the Bergen band has spent the past decade, and then some, translating their unbridled passion and genre-bending approach to record. Their 2010 debut full-length, Ghostclocks, along with 2012’s Funeral Beach and 2017’s Cult Drugs, successfully laid a groundwork for greatness. In fact, their most recent new material, 2019’s The Return of the Arsonist EP, could easily be that penultimate collection.

Of course, there is still plenty of time to make magic and time will often force change. Three years and a global pandemic have done just this to Blood Command, who recently parted ways with Frontwoman Karina Ljone, who amicably departed the fold to raise a family. So, like it or not, a new era of the band’s history begins now—with Aussie powerhouse Nikki Brumen (ex-Pagan).

With Praise Armageddonism as evidence, it’s easy to see that the inclusion of Brumen has reignited the fire in the band—Guitarists Yngve Andersen and Benjamin Berge, Bassist Snorre Kilvær, and Drummer Sigurd Haakaas. Perhaps the group’s most startlingly diverse collection to date, their fourth full-length is three years in the making and shows a maturity, sonically speaking, that continues to explore the zaniest of genre pairings.

Produced by Andersen, the 10-song Praise Armageddonism is framed by a pair of biblically-themed soundbites that provide a play on the Book of Revelation. The opener, “Praise Armageddonism (Awake Theme),” uses its source material to build an ominous tension that praises the apocalypse as an antihero. Amid this churning cauldron, Brumen is quick to take her place, delivering a walloping first taste of her vocal might.

It’s this initial evidentiary hearing that opens the case for Blood Command’s successful evolution. Certainly “Saturday City” and “The End Is Her” are exemplary examples of what the band has to offer and could be the pair of songs that break their career wide open. Each a Pop-Punk derived, radio-ready earworm, the former finds its strength in synth-laden textures while the latter revels in its funky bass assault. But no matter the track you choose, Brumen shapes her clean vocals into an infectious attack that is perfectly suited for cross-genre appeal.

Thankfully, the tracks that follow are not simply filler. From the short burst of angst that is “Everything You Love Will Burn” to the vicious grunge of “Burn the Blasphemer,” Blood Command carefully crafts a collection that hits on a million feels. Harnessing everything from riot grrrl grit (think the ballsy L7) to Blondie-esque New Wave sensibilities to Tonight Alive’s uplifting spirit, Brumen leads her troops through a roster of Rock-n-Roll made in all colors and shapes. Together, the band rolls their eyes at the sheeple of the internet (who apparently love the Backstreet Boys) on dancer “A Questionable Taste in Friends,” condemns undeserved ego on the rocker “A Villain’s Monologue,” provides soaring melodies and cinematic finesse on “Nuns, Guns & Cowboys,” then rewinds to the wonder years on “I Just Want That Movie Ending.” Bottling all of the teenage potential and skin-melting sunshine of the Warped Tour, this latter track feels like a trip back to the mid-2000s (IYKYK, ‘k?).

Ultimately, they pull all these myriad influences and moments together, dial up the aggression, and close out the album with “Last Call For Heaven’s Gate.” Turning a weary eye to false prophets and self-serving reinvention of facts, they combine their grungy rhythms with sensual saxophone. The result is alluring yet biting, an all-encompassing representation of how Blood Command can mold the ridiculously intangible into a delicious reality. And as with so many great albums, the very second that Praise Armageddonism reaches its powerful conclusion and fades into the ether, there’s a niggling urge to immediately repeat the journey.

There’s no arguing the fact that fate forced Blood Command to a crossroads. But with the addition of Brumen, the quintet has built on their already established foundation, taking their music to new heights but refusing to abandon their quirky commingling of seemingly disparate elements. Rather than impeding the group’s ability to form a passionate embrace between the likes of Grunge and Jazz sax, Brumen appears to fit right in; inspiring her new brothers to exceptional heights. Pretty soon she’s apt to have us all drinking the Kool-Aid and loving it! For all of the above, Cryptic Rock gives Blood Command’s latest 5 of 5 stars.





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