Robin Bidgoli – vocals, guitars
Felix Einarsson – guitars
Eric Björklund – bass
Aron Torstensson – drums
1. The Sacrament
2. Final Judgement
3. Slumbering Death
5. Sinner’s Soul
6. Burn The Sky
There have been quite a few recording artists going by the name Commando. They include a thrash metal band located in Mexico, a now-defunct heavy metal outfit that originated in Romania, and the hard rock/heavy metal quartet from Arkiva, Sweden in 2016. The latter have an upcoming EP entitled Rites Of Damnation due for release on May 22nd.
Side A’s opener ‘The Sacrament’ begins with the guitars building simple melodies for the first twenty seconds or so. The rhythm section is then introduced, gradually morphing the track into an explosive number, with its soaring riffs preparing the listener for Robin Bigdoli’s hysterical vocals. The lyrics are shrieked throughout, complemented by Felix Einarsson and Bigdoli’s guitar work. Announcing the end of the track are some echoing notes that add to the eeriness that the lyrics already provide.
Aron Tortensson’s drums introduce the beginning of ‘Final Judgement’. The guitar solos are the second track’s strong point, while the gang shouts in the chorus bring added power to the vocals.
Picking up seamlessly from where its predecessor left off is ‘Slumbering Death’. This is the first of two tracks (the other being ‘Burn The Sky’) re-recorded from their prior release, Demo 2018. Its opening verse wastes no time referencing H. P. Lovecraft with the lines “In the nightmare city of R’yleh / Beneath the depths of sea,” revealing the horror writer as an influence.
‘Djävulsmaskopi’, the only instrumental track on the album, provides a pause from the berserk vocals. The instrumentation takes its listener on a wordless, ominous adventure.
Side B is led by fast-paced number ‘Sinner’s Soul’. The acoustic break towards the end after one final cry of the song title is an unexpected, yet welcomed, contrast to the rest of the track.
‘Burn The Sky’ is a powerful closer, with Eric Björklund and Aron Tortensson doing the rhythm section of the band proud. The vocals are most successful during this song – an almighty yell can be heard mid-song which adds emotion to the sinister undertones of the music. Similarly to the first track, this sixth and final offering draws to a close with a haunting outro. This version fades out rather than ending with three thundering drum beats, which reflects its transition from being the first song on the demo to the last on this release.
To conclude, this is a playful yet complex mini-LP from the young band. While listeners will most likely be divided by the the vocal delivery, their talent as musicians is undeniable. This release demonstrates that the band’s sound has become much tighter and refined since their demo. Charged with an occult-tinged sound and eccentric vocals that explore themes such as sacrificial rites and mythology, Rites Of Damnation is a promising prelude to Commando’s upcoming debut full-length LP.