The heights of Blood Command’s ambition seemingly know no bounds. Their star has shone brightly over the years as a force of creativity within post-hardcore, opting for the same cues as their countrymen Kvelertak a in supercharged punk spirit to ram through heavy music on their own terms. That’s even truer on Praise Armageddonism with new vocalist Nikki Brumen, formerly of the equally underrated Pagan, and yet another proponent of wide-reaching genre alchemy—namely post-hardcore with black-metal—for some stellar results. She’s as welcome as a presence gets on Praise Armageddonism, mainly through how much of a converse point to her past musical life this is; if Pagan were staring into the black-metal void, Blood Command constantly find themselves high on pure-blooded rock ‘n’ roll. That is to say, subtlety is a rather foreign concept for an album barrelling through both socio-political and personal turbulences framed by readings from Revelations and the teachings of the Heaven’s Gate movement, though Blood Command can make every strike of it hit. There’s a deliberate recklessness that’s so welcome here, in the dizzying guitars and synth patters on Saturday City or the hammering dance-punk snarl of A Questionable Taste In Friends, in which Blood Command chip away at their wall of sound and unearth more than a few decidedly choice pop melodies. Add on top Brumen’s nail-on-glass shrieks that are a wild feat in technique alone, and the sharp, incisive sound of Blood Command launches itself above the ‘normal’ parameters of punk or hardcore into something far more fraught and frenetic. Granted, that doesn’t precisely pay off when the mix can blast away any hint of modulation to effectively rebuild the aforementioned wall, but it’s to the band’s credit that they’re able to avoid that far more than they can’t.
As such, Praise Armageddonism shines in individual moments in a way that similar acts really struggle to. The pop hooks that Blood Command lean into are astoundingly distinct, imbued with a lot of caving force to heighten how melodically satisfying the likes of The End Is Her and Everything You Love Will Burn are. Chief among them, though, is I Just Want That Movie Ending, not only for how absolutely enormous it sounds (the surging bass in particular is a highlight), but for how it leans into the flash and dynamism that make Blood Command shine so brilliantly, with the millennial whoops and waves of hair-metal guitars that are pure exaltation in the best way. It also earmarks the variety in Blood Command’s work too; immediately before it is Nuns, Guns & Cowboys with its machine-gun drumming and big hardcore energy, while Last Call For Heaven’s Gate rounds off soon after, an eight-minute-long odyssey that finds ironclad punk dissolving into spasmodic fragments of saxophone and percussion. Both feel vastly different, but they’re pulled off with the confidence of a band who are aware of how flexible their own boundaries and abilities are. Praise Armageddonism is never boring—not even close—because of how locked-in Blood Command are when it comes to their ambitions. They’re vital and kinetic through and through, the sort of band for whom the breadth of their influences and inspirations is apparent, but so is the acumen to keep them remarkably tightly packed. The odd production quibble aside, Blood Command continue to represent the antithesis of boring, stagnant rock music through sheer force of will. Between bone-cracking vigour and a melodic streak that couldn’t be undeniable, Praise Armageddonism is another easy win to add to this band’s list already chock-full of them.
For fans of: Refused, At The Drive In, Pagan
‘Praise Armageddonism’ by Blood Command is released on 1st July on Hassle Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall