A symphony of harsh negativity and violence. That’s it. That’s the review.
Just kidding, of course. But there really isn’t too much you need to explain to get to the essence of this album. This is Commander‘s second full-length album, a follow up to 2020’s Terrorscape. The terror continues on Death Age, with a fully coordinated assault mounted from every angle of the sonic battlefield. The guitars lead the attack, with the blasts from the bass and drums providing close ground support. Meanwhile, the cavernous guttural vocals infiltrate behind enemy lines to ensure maximum devastation. It’s a lean, devastating work at just over 26 minutes.
If you’re not familiar with Commander‘s sound, I’d describe as a primary mixture of two bands with accoutrements of a few more blended in at key moments. At the foundational level, it’s a blend of Bolt Thrower‘s muscular style with spell‘s dark and ominous atmosphere. Think of a Warhammer 40k army on the move…but make it vaguely demonic. You get the idea. The balance is fairly even throughout the record, though the ending riffs on “Collapse Metropolis” are very reminiscent of the more melodic moments from Onward to Golgotha (“Immortal Cessation”, for example).
But there are moments that recall other bands as well. Pay attention to some of the riffs on “Chimera Soldiers”, especially the part at the 52-second mark. The sudden break with the riff on its own instantly reminded me of Demoncy. Check out “Fleeing Western Territories” and you’ll hear it right away as the song starts. Swap-in Ixithra‘s raspy voice and it wouldn’t be too out of place on Joined in Darkness. Listen close and you might hear some reminders of Finnish acts like convulses and Purityalong with inescapable similarities to Funebrarum and their dark brethren.
Topically, the subject matter should be pretty obvious. It’s an album about the final death-throes of civilization through war, plague and general collapse. The band presents it as a nightmare vision to behold on its own terms, and leaves the listener to decide how to feel about it. The band doesn’t have anything to sell but the work itself.
For conflict torn nations across the world, it’s a vision that’s already coming true. For those lucky enough to be at peace, it’s a reminder of the tenuous nature of safety and stability in a world always collapsing and reforming across the violent storm of history.
It’s a vision both captivating and horrifying. You’re aghast at what you see, but it’s presented in such a fascinating way that you can’t turn away. And so it is with death metal done right. Commander does it just right.