Album Review: Kommand - Death Age
Reviewed by Sam Jones
It’s amazing how fast time goes by. I remember when social media was all in a flurry when Terrorscape, Kommand’s debut album, first released to a cascade of favourable reviews. Now, three years on, Kommand aspire to unleash their second full length work, the simply titled Death Age. Formed back in 2015, Kommand had a fairly sluggish start releasing a slew of Demos before the aforementioned Terrorscape finally saw the light of day and through Maggot Stomp no less. Now added to the illustrious plinth that is 20 Buck Spin’s band roster, Death Age marks the band’s first release through their new record label. With a new album on a fresh record label, one with a historically positive reputation, I was deeply excited to see what Kommand would have in store for us this time round.
It’s interesting how Kommand maintain a steady rhythm throughout their performance all the while other elements are infusing the soundscape with otherwise more ruthless, faster instrumental performances. When you listen to a track and pay attention to how it’s moving, you’ll come to realise that the band aren’t letting the aggressive tendencies of their songwriting overpower the importance of pacing or song structure. Yes, there are blast beats and pummelling sections and there are segments of riffs that are possess much more vitriol yet, Kommand do not allow these intricacies to overtake the band’s desire for this record; that desire, I believe, is to take audiences on a macabre journey they’ll be able to experience clearly all the while the band unleash a swathe of dirty riffs and hooks our way. In this respect. Kommand are letting us sit down rather comfortably amidst the eye of this storm as we can observe the flurrying nightmare around us without a hint of a struggle on our part to interpret it.
In addition, we manage to feel the pace of this record with such clarity due to how the guitar tone has been meticulously devised to create a grating albeit not unkindly soundscape. Listening to the album in its opening minutes will show you all you need to regarding how the band wished to conduct themselves with this record. There are no flourishes of riffs or avant-grade guitar pieces; no overtly unique demonstrations of atmosphere or songwriting; Kommand offer an extremely straightforward version of death metal that I think many will adhere towards. The total absence of anything technical, progressive etc within their songwriting results in a song structure that’s very streamlined and gets right to the crux of what Kommand are looking to instil. The rasping guitar tone, coupled with the pace Kommand perform with, crafts songwriting that oozes searing violence yet still appears suave, well-composed and forever in control of where it’s going.
The vocals also commit to this notion of a median-paced performance that never strays too far from the trudging impact akin to a bulldozer. The vocals you hear at the start will be the exact same form of delivery you’ll experience right to the end. Just as the instrumentation infers, the vocals are not going to employ anything experimental or particularly seething that you don’t otherwise hear through the first track. There may be some more bellowing moments as the record goes by, pending on the songwriting requirements however, you’re not going to receive anything that doesn’t move outside of Kommand’s self-constructed box. But, in some ways, this is a positive note, it means that people looking for a reliably consistent vocal delivery will not be disappointed with this record. I’d never label this album as anything akin to “Safe” for a death metal outing, but it is nice to hear a vocal performance that understands what it delivers on and what fans want to find from their sound.
Kommand are the latest in a lengthy line of bands inspired by the Bolt Thrower-ethos of trudging, crushing death metal that doesn’t rely on the bombastic nature of extreme metal to garner fans towards its quality. Granted there are solos and the occasional blast beat therein but, as we’ve discussed, Kommand don’t need these to maintain our engagement. If Terrorscape was the iceberg’s tip, then Death Age has seen the iceberg completely flip over enabling us to view the full bulk of its mass as we’ve never seen before. The adherence to simplicity and keeping things primitive has worked wonders for this record. The further you move into Death Age, the more confident you become that Kommand aren’t straying away from precisely what you understand the first songs are; this album will end the way it began, and I personally loved that realisation. Since this is the kind of death medal I love to discover, learning that every track was structured and performed as such, it only made fall deeper into this album’s immersion as I moved from one song to the next as someone utterly drunk on what I loved.
In conclusion, Death Age is a record that propels the Kommand name even further into the stratosphere than their much-talked about debut release garnered. I especially appreciated how Kommand, at no point, tried to hide or disguise their performance as anything offer than what is stark in front of us. Seven tracks of pure and unadulterated old school death metal that never tries to be more than what the first track otherwise presents itself as. The end of this record may even catch you off guard owing to how nonchalant and mundane it treats it’s own conclusion as. I thought there was another track following the end of “Collapse Metropolis”, only to find that that was indeed the end of the record. With a short runtime and an addictive want of repeated listens, Kommand have crafted a record that is the epitome of “No Think, Only Kill”. It does exactly what you want it to do and then some. It may be a little too bare bones for some, but for those, like myself, who live for that no nonsense style of extreme metal, Death Age is a record more than worth your time.