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Kommandant: The Draconian Archetype

American black metal is one of the most sonically segregated movements in memory. Bands are either cookie cuttering it up or actually aligned with the black metal identity of being their own. Kommandant fall in the middle, black in the same way Dissection was, but a bit less substantial. They can easily move from blistering to mid-tempo, they can tremolo and blast beat until the world ends, but my how they limit themselves compositionally.

For this new record, they've upped the quality of their production, but it's not doing them any favors. Because of that, the soundscape potential has opened up, yet they didn't take advantage of it. They don't need to be Dimmu Borgir or anything but it would be nice if they had more than two guitars and a lead, especially considering how dark they want to be. The guitars are actually recorded really well, with good sound and atmosphere and whatnot, but the lack of layers alone becomes a heavy weight the album suffers unto. As far as mixing goes, there's plenty of low end but whenever any bass part is audible, it's mimicking guitar, like in the middle of "Fore-Aft Synthesis." A simple opportunity to give some more color to the track, or any relevant part, is lost. In combination with the same playing styles between most of the tracks despite tempo changes, the layering leaves so much unfinished.

On the plus side, the vocalist is improving. The way he incorporates his dreary cleans, like in the backdrop of "Call of the Void" or even on their own, works interestingly against his raspy growling, although they still need a bit more direction in terms of emotion because they come across as wanting to be somber but epic and it doesn't really work in that sense.

Basically they're oversimplifying their music for what they can/should be able to handle. Even with the highlights ("Hate is Strength" is one hell of a cool throwback to Satyricon's Volcano, the more death-esque "Transition," and the Watain-evoking "Procession of Black"), the record tends to drag from blast beat/tremolo syndrome. Though, considering how egotistical the "propaganda" page on their website comes across, it's not surprising that many of the problems from the last record aren't addressed whatsoever. My guess would be they listen to too much metal to distinguish their own writing but maybe they like being all brutal all the time. Even Emperor had hooks.

Track Listing
1. We Are the Angels of Death
2. Victory through Intolerance
3. Downfall
4. Hate is Strength
5. Obsidian Gravitational
6. Fore-Aft Synthesis
7. Call of the Void
8. The Transition
9. Atavistic Species
10. Procession of Black

Added: April 8th 2012
Reviewer: Danny Heater
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2731
Language: english

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