Kommandant - The Architects of Extermination

Kommandant, despite the very European-sounding name and album art (KMFDM?  Is that you?), are a black metal band based out of Chicago.  Sporting a few releases since 2008, The Architects of Extermination is their 3rd full-length album.  New to the group, I was interested enough after hearing their single and seeing that they were from my old stomping grounds to check it out in full.  After Lord Mantis blew me away with Deathmask last year, I continue to be impressed with what vicious fusions are cranked out from the windy city.
Compositions at times remind me more of Godflesh than any black metal group.  The focus on slow, pounding drums and discordant, droning guitar brought me to thoughts of Streetcleaner’s “Dream Long Dead” and “Christbait Rising” more than once.  The difference lies mainly in the grim vocals that echo from the background similar to Lunar Aurora or Deathspell Omega.  Other comparisons to these groups are warranted, though Kommandant choose a far more straight-forward and perhaps less melodious approach.  The opening build on the album’s first track is one of my favorites.  The simple yet effective rhythms got me doing that 90’s head bob and sway.
Pictured: My childhood
There is a character to each instrument.  The clangy basslines are like an evil voice whispering behind your ear.  Dark tremolo passages are lurking shadows at the corners of your vision.  And the drums…wow.  The work behind the kit on this album is by far my favorite aspect.  While the beats aren’t really anything new, the excellent production behind each tom hit is stellar.  From the foreboding march of “Killing Word” to the blastbeats of “Rise and Fall of Empire” and marching drum snare rolls of “Onward to Extinction;” this is the sound of the four horseman approaching.  Spoiler alert:  they aren’t here for deep dish pizza.
In the end, I do find myself at times wishing for a little more payoff to the ominous threat prowling just outside my view.  But with each listen, I come to respect more and more the utter feeling of dread that accompanies this slow-burner approach.  While a more traditional blast of fury might be satisfying, comfort is not something Kommandant wishes to offer.  More Lovecraft than Clive Barker, The Architects of Extermination is an eerie blackened industrial trudge through Silent Hill, where the fog obscures your vision, but that damned radio static is a constant reminder to never stop running. 
The album drops 4/27, those who order the digipack will receive the exclusive - and one of my favorite tracks - "Killing Word."

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