Sometimes things get pushed so far, they break. Sometimes it comes completely out of the blue; there’s never been prior indication of instability, or structural issues, or even diminished quality. In the case of Blood Command, they’ve been on their A-game for years, especially lately since Nikki Brumen joined the fold. Last year’s Praise Armageddonism was a mile-a-minute ride that found their hybridised post-hardcore at its most intense, a reintroduction that leaned on a brand of maximalism to not only bulk up the blows, but sharpen every edge to atoms-thin points. So with World Domination coming barely a year later…well, can you hear the shattering?
It’s a sad turn of events, buteven the throes of madness that power Planet Blood Command can only achieve so much, as World Domination finds cracks beginning to form. 20 tracks make up this album, with plenty falling under a minute, and even more beleaguered by some truly confusing creative decisions. Sure, the punk spirit and tenacity that’s always held Blood Command up remains, but it’s reinterpreted in a way that lacks so much of what made their approach great. Therefore, by the end of this bizarre experiment that constitutes throwing out fragments of sound and fury, Blood Command are deconstructing themselves at the most granular level possible.
It’s an interesting concept in theory, but falls so flat when Blood Command’s final intentions make themselves known. Here, they’ve essentially stripped a rich, genre-encompassing sound for parts, and attempted to do whatever they can with those individual elements. Across World Domination, there are glances made at punk, hardcore, black-metal, electronica, pop and even certain angles of hip-hop and brassy bombast, and among all of that, there’s not much done to a satisfying degree. And while it might sound like a bit of an odd conclusion to draw, it seems as though Blood Command misunderstand the fundamental reason that all these elements work so well—the value in putting them together. Whereas Praise Armageddonism had a high-octane, excitingly explosive attitude to music, World Domination feels as piecemeal as it is. It launches unprovoked into metallised trance on Welcome To The Next Level Above Human, or lurching hip-hop on Burn Again, and seem so uncomfortable in doing so. Similarly, when the pace is brought right down for the final three tracks—which appear to get less and less interesting as they go on—the album ends up deflating rather than finishing on the intended emotional high.
What’s all the more disappointing is that Blood Command are clearly still putting in the effort here. Particularly in more familiar hardcore climes, they’re as tight and prickly as ever, and Brumen’s nail-on-glass voice never fails to pierce. It’s an argument for why shards of noise could indeed work, though—to no real surprise—the more fleshed-out, more ‘standard’ songs obviously work the best. It’s what comes the most naturally, after all, where Forever Soldiers Of Esther or The Plague On Both Your Houses have the space to not only crackle and rage in their own intense flurries, but build something kinetic and memorable out of it. When you’re paring that back to just about 50 seconds, the intensity might remain, but you’ve not got a song attached to it; it’s just a spurt of rage that’s gone as quickly as it came. And when that’s a not-insignificant portion of World Domination, it’s no wonder that there’s an emptiness here that no Blood Command album before it has ever had.
Sure, it’s not uncommon for bands to have a bad album now and them, even in the middle of seemingly infallible runs, but World Domination is the kind of baffling misstep that’s just so hard to comprehend. Not a career-killer by any stretch (and the short turnaround time would hopefully infer this to be a more experimental side-venture anyway), but it’s an oddity that Blood Command could’ve done without regardless. The combination of being weirdly structured, uneven in pace and close to demanding a lack of memorability results in a perfect storm of ‘oddball fumble’, as the storied creative force of Blood Command finally produces some kind of weak spot. Kind of ironic, then, that their world domination feels further than ever on the album literally bearing that as its name.
For fans of: Turbonegro, Pagan, The Bronx
‘World Domination’ by Blood Command is released on 29th September on Hassle Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall