It’s been a few years now since the Blood Command crew were last sighted, when they paused briefly in their mini-hiatus to jettison their old vocalist and take on a new one. Finally, the Norwegian melodic punk band have made landfall with yet another fine record.
‘Cult Drugs’ is as seamless and breathless as a good DJ set; angry and anthemic, it doesn’t once breach the surface for air. The aesthetic is all neon and geometry, but the mood is here-and-now – the 10 tracks scream, dance, and muscle their way in via a blend of experimental punk noise and some unique instrumentation.
The first thing that you’ll notice is Karina Ljone‘s vocals; as the album progresses, she takes on the various qualities of Jon Mess (Dance Gavin Dance) in his trebley furiosity, Jason Butler‘s (letlive.) cool lackadasicality, and Parker Canon‘s (The Story So Far) urgent, why-is-the-world-against-me attitude. She also sings too, in case you weren’t feeling suitably inadequate. It’s not an easy feat keeping up with such forceful music, let alone switching modes within individual tracks, but she does so to great effect.
It’s an exciting record, especially at the bookends. Opener ‘Ctrl + Art + Delete’ is doom-laden but playful with rhythm, dropping elements in and out with aplomb, playing catch-up with itself because it can. The guitar in the eponymous follow-up track seems to shimmer gloriously in a way that’s hard to describe. Here the band stretch their legs before the next onslaught of songs.
Final track ‘(The World Covered In) Purple Shrouds’ makes a brave choice to prominently feature a trumpet (though it does emerge tentatively throughout the rest of the record, so its poll position here is not jarring thematically), waving proudly like a flag around which all other elements rally.
Other highlights include ‘Quitters Don’t Smoke’ – a bouncy dance number – and probably their most traditional punk offering, ‘You Can’t Sit With Us’, which illustrates the band’s ability to not only write A Day To Remember-esque hook choruses, but also a sharp solo.
Complainants like me often bemoan a lack of variety in punk albums, growing tired before the inevitable rage-driven, but uninspired second acts. However, ‘Cult Drugs’ finds Blood Command firing on all cylinders. Sure, the album art could be a stock image for a student union night promising 2-for-1 Jägerbombs, but you’ll be blown away by the sheer range of expressiveness from a band that just won’t let you get bored.
Written by Chris Yeoh (@Chris_Yeoh)
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.