Featuring in its ranks veterans of bands like USURPER, CIANIDE, and CORPSEVOMIT, Chicago's KOMMANDANT keeps it tremolo picked and blast beaten on "Stormlegion". Black metal with subtle dirty thrash undertones is the soup of the day. While the straightforward, no-frills approach has its merits, the songwriting occasionally suffers from a lack of distinction.
The approach seems to be more about blitzkrieg attacking, as opposed to surgical strikes anyway, so it is not as though KOMMANDANT has set out to make the album that EMPEROR never made. The scorched earth policy of the band is certainly more MARDUK (the quick kill stuff) than DIMMU BORGIR, yet KOMMANDANT is not all about the one-speed-all-the-time thing either. Still, bottom crawling plods these are not. Though something less than dynamic, the band does change up the arrangements periodically (e.g. the pace break on the otherwise galloping speedster Siege Engine") and the BM guitar melodies are occasionally attention-grabbing ("No Compassion"). Even the "Hey! Hey! Hey!" shouts on the title track work to color the material, creating a menacing, storm-trooping aura. It is on "Barbarous Victorious" though where the songwriting shows a great deal of potential with a chorus that is the album's most memorable. Everything is more than acceptable here, but only occasionally barnstorming.
It is easy to be picky when black metal bands seem to be multiplying like rabbits, so take the mild criticisms with a grain of salt. "Stormlegion" has a lot going for it, not the least of which is the ever-elusive atmosphere of dread that many bands strive to create, but few ever pull off. That and the beginnings of what could end up a killer collection of songs on the next full-length make KOMMANDANT a band to keep your eye on.