Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, U.S. of A., Kommandant are active for almost two decades (founded in 2004 or so). Throughout the years, they recorded and released several Ep’s and full-lengths (this review deals with their fifth official full-length album), as well as more than one hand full of (often stunning) splits (with the likes of e.g. Missouri’s Fever, Animus Mortis or Absentia Lunae). This introduction in short…
After quite some years of silence (Blood Eel was released in 2018, the split with Fever in 2019, and then… nothingness, oblivion, eternal silence…), the quintet started recording new material in the Belle City Sound Company Studio (located in Racine, Wisconsin, not that far away from Chicago). For the release, the band signed to ATMF aka Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum, you know, one of (my) most beloved (darkened) Metal labels from Italian soil. Besides the digital availability, there are two physical formats. The compact-disc is a six-panel digipack, released on January 20th 2023, and there are two different copies on vinyl too (200 versions in ‘regular’ format, and 100 ones on red vinyl). It comes with stunning artwork / lay-out, done once again by no one else but Francesco Gemelli, known from his work for bands like Darkspace, Ævangelist, Kvist, Midnight Odyssey or Void Of Silence, amongst many others.
Titan Hammer clocks forty minutes and overwhelms as from its opening riffing, and beyond. The recording brings intense, militant and intolerant Black Metal with hints of Blackened Death Metal, if you want to. The whole rumbles like a bulldozer-on-speed, or a pyroclastic eruption of sound-torture. It’s the thunderous drum-execution that provides an unchaste level of unstoppable energy. Most of the time, the whole percussion-section attacks in a combative manner, not intending to surrender at all. High-speed roars of double-bass destruction and cymbal-rape overflow with sonic malignancy. Yet quite often, the drum-parts slow down too, evolving into skilled patterns of pristine panache.
There’s more than drums, of course. When talking about the string-parts, well, I need to mention that exceptional balance in between harshness and harmony. The multiple guitar-layers wreathe a fine web of thick, even viscous solidity, acting in well-thought equilibrium with excerpts of melodic subtleties. The convinced interplay of melodious and heavy riffs and rhythms gives the whole a cachet of stylish capacities. Organic bass and rhythm lines seem to fuse self-evidently with the striking leads, going for both the harsh, dissolute passages as well as the few slower or mid-tempo oriented chapters.
From vocal viewpoint, sorry, point of listen, here too a diverse approach needs to be analyzed. The better vocal part is of the deep-throaty kind, like growling in a blackened way. Sulfur and acid, a mouth-of-disgust, sermonizing of evil and hatred, sweetly offer a message of peace and intimacy… Not! The raw expression characterizes the nefarious and infernal propaganda with belligerent delicacy. But there’s more, like some shouts or growling grunts-from-deep-within-the-belly.
Of importance is the fine-tuned intercommunion of all instruments and voices. All of them interactively play a leading role, then again sort of pull back to the background to support another key role. Such ‘teamwork’ strengthens the cohesion of Titan Hammer. Besides, the little rough and unpolished yet finely mixed sound-quality intensifies the coherence behind, and around, this album.