There’s been a lot of talk of old bands over the past week or so for me. Namely due to various festival announcements whereby people have been yammering on about ‘recycling’ headliners. First off I would like to say that all the old ‘recycled’ bands will certainly be finished within perhaps twenty years or so due to age so take it whilst you can, there’s plenty of time to watch Ghost and never enough time to watch Maiden. Equally if no one takes the reins as ‘the next big thing’ who really cares, Metal was born from the underground and if it goes back to more underground roots then that’s fine by me.
Some bands however are hell bent on bringing old sounds forward, much like our subjects for today High Command. Hailing from Massachusetts in the US the Worcester based Thrashers are true worshippers of the past. Having formed in 2016 their rise has been swift with merely a demo and an EP in their past. Said EP The Primordial Void caught the attention of Southern Lord Recordings however and now sees the band put out their debut Beyond The Wall Of Desolation via this seal of quality. With so much hype around this form of Metal however can High Command reach the blessings of the likes of Visigoth or Power Trip?
You may be coming away from that second paragraph thinking, Visigoth? Power Trip? They’re totally different from one another! Indeed you would be right but High Command go a step further, mashing together the Slayer heavy tones of Power Trip with the cascading traditional Metal ethos and lyricism of the likes of Visigoth. An all out Crossover storm ensues via Inexorable Darkness and its catchy Thrash instrumentation and borderline OSDM vocals. Merciless Steel is next to come in with its full on Agent Steel, Speed Metal ideology and heavy Slayer worship, another crusher that is sure to be a pleaser to any fan of Extreme Metal. When I first checked this records track-listing I was hesitant about the almost nine minute epic Devoid Of Reality. I should’ve known better than to judge a band of this calibre. The track is massive and even exudes nigh on Doomesque qualities for that added flare. At its heart however it’s a straight up Power Trip/ Obituary hailing titan.
Save for the aforementioned epic there is little in the way of variation throughout this release but as we go into the second portion with The Commander’s Code we want nothing more than the same all out purist Thrash attack. I really enjoy this sound as it feels like a pure and complete unity of the bands whom we will soon sadly have to bid well to, bands like High Command are the future of proper Metal. Culminating in the albums titular number the band wrap things up nicely leaving us with a lust for more of their OSDM infused Slayer praising Crossover.
If you’re into dirty, gritty Metal then this is the sort of thing for you. I used to think that a lot of Metal from this ilk, for example Power Trip was very trendy and try hard. Alas I was wrong the guys in Power Trip and High Command are die-hards with a passion for real Metal and excellent song-writing. I found Beyond The Wall Of Desolation to be a brilliant all rounder, I’m a big fan of the amalgamation of traditional Metal and essentially Slayer. Basically if you want a record where nearly every riff is just a Slayer rip off to the point of parody and the vocals are so aggressive that they put Hardcore bands to shame then look no further than the High Command!
(8/10 George Caley)