Chicagoans Kommandant first fired across my bows with their Kontakt EP back in 2010 via Planet Metal Records. At the time I declared that the disc gave me a cataclysmic short sharp shock and left me wanting more and finally it has come via ATMF in the form of the group’s debut album. Beneath the gas marks the war torn group wear it would seem that the line-up has had a fair few changes but constant to it are ex members of quite a few scene luminaries such as Krieg, Nachtmystium, Funereal and Cianide. With all of these in mind you would rather expect that Kommandant would be a bit on the aggressive and in your face side and there is no doubting that as soon as play is pressed on this vicious bastard of an album.
‘We Are The Angels Of Death’ is a title that makes a statement and it descends like a plague without anything in the way of remorse, battering in and going hell for leather with blazing drums and grating guitars. Vocals from Nick Hernandez (Stone Magnum) are not far behind and go from wretched sounding rasps to grandoise clean, austere sweeps that are highly reminiscent of Attila Csihar. As the album progresses you start to become acclimatised to the windswept tumult, it blazes away constantly but there is an underlying melody about things that allows you to get to grips with things after a few listens. The sound is orthadox and not particularly identifiable by country or anything, this could easily be the sound of a European attack force and nothing particularly about it has you identifying it as generic USBM. I like the way that some spoken parts are thrown into numbers such as ‘Victory Through Intolerance’ making them all the more miltaristic and kommanding!
We do change track with ‘Hate Is Strength’ where the band slow down and go for a hefty crushing sound that is weighty and uncoils with a leaden groove coursing through it. This does allow a bit more of the vocals to shine through and there is a great underlying melody with some incestuously biting guitar riffs glistening away. In a way however I almost wish there were a couple of numbers like this as we are quickly back to the blazing incendiary full firepower of the band for the rest of the album, making this one really stand out. Having said that though ‘Obsidinal Gravitation’ does drop the drum battallion a bit and the Attila sounding vocals are magisterially allowed to burst through from the mix.
At the least this album is spiteful but most of the time it is downright vicious. With ten numbers coming in at over 52 minutes it is not the most accesible listen for a quick fix especially seeing as it is so extreme but give it time and it is one of those albums that will eventually sink in and win you over. Even after about eight listens such are the complexities of this I think it is going to take me more listens until I really get to grips with it but who wants a disposable album anyway! Mature, barbaric and all kommanding this is a beast with plenty of bite.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)