April 15, 2019 Blood Command – Return of The Arsonist (EP Review)
If Katniss Everdeen was a girl on fire, then Blood Command are somehow her sonic counterpart: a band on fire and poised to explode. Well, with Spring finally in full-swing, this eclectic band are poised to deliver their latest EP, Return of The Arsonist, a kind of conceptual successor to “Summon the Arsonists.” It arrives on Friday, April 19, 2019, thanks to Fysisk Format.
If you love your music laced with frenetic energy, Blood Command has got you covered. Reportedly jokingly named for the band members’ fondness for cheesy Action films of the 1980s, the quartet formed in 2009 in Bergen, Norway. They released their full-length debut, Ghostclocks, a year later and then followed it up with 2012’s Funeral Beach. Then, after a five-year gap, they delivered 2017’s Cult Drugs to critical acclaim, no surprise for a band that has already been nominated for a Norwegian Grammy. Additionally, their reputation for ferocious live shows has led them to share stages with the likes of Iron Maiden, Biffy Clyro, Refused, Comeback Kid, and many more.
For their fourth EP, Blood Command — Singer Karina Ljone, Guitarist Yngve Andersen, Bassist Simon Oliver Økland, Drummer Sigurd Haakaa — utilize 2011’s “Summon the Arsonists,” off the Hand Us the Alpha Male! EP, as a conceptual precursor to their newest material. On the 6-song collection, they turn toward infectious melodies that craft sing-along-worthy choruses. Fear not, while their heavy sound is more streamlined, they have lost none of their in-your-face ferocity or rocking mayhem. They do call themselves Death Pop for a reason, folks!
If “Summon the Arsonists” set the groundwork, then Return of The Arsonist picks up where it left off and goes to infectious, mind-blowing new heights. (Which explains that cover image, right?) The album starts with synth-crafted atmospherics that build an ambient mood (the very same one from the aforementioned, 2011 track) that explodes into the Punk frenzy of “Don’t Strike A Match, Use The Lighter” and, like a sonic fireball, Ljone goes haywire.
They go for a more straightforward Rock approach with the radio-friendly semi-titular track, “S01E02.Return.Of.The.Arsonist.720p.HDTV.x264.” Which, you know, looks like the title of an episode of The Walking Dead but is actually a catchy, gang vocal-fueled little bop that will guarantee that you pay attention to Blood Command. Lest you begin to believe that the quartet have gone soft, however, they bounce back to their standard Punk/Hardcore-anchored sound on the sarcastic “No Thank You, I’m More Into Fake Grindcore.”
In keeping with this sarcastic bite, there’s a facetious quality to the lyrics of “Live Right or Go Straight to Hell” which, with its anthemic, gang vocal choruses and heavy grind, has attitude and yet a sheer infectiousness that marks it as a brutal earworm. Next, musical mayhem is unleashed within the howls of “Ritual Knife,” an under one-minute explosion that slowly fades out to pave the way for “Afraid of Water.” Here, Blink-182-worthy Pop Punk guitars meander into a bass-heavy groove, which is guaranteed to make you a Blood Command fan.
Certainly Blood Command cannot be tamed, but on Return of The Arsonist, they corral their ferocity into a cohesive sound that contains the anthemic qualities of Pop Punk, the in-your-face attitude of Punk and Hardcore, along with a dab of 1990s Alternative Rock girl grit. (If you want to call it Post-Hardcore, fine, but that’s missing the point.) The end result is a band who fully embrace the past while owning the future, female-fronted and never skimping on sonic pandemonium. They call themselves Death Pop, which works perfectly: they are catchier here than they have ever been and that is perfectly okay. Sometimes we all want to step outside of the pit, wipe off the sweat, and simply bop our heads as we sing along. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give Blood Command’s Return of The Arsonist 5 of 5 stars.