Being the last to know something can be extremely embarrassing, and as much as it pains me to say it, in relation to the rest of SUIDAKRA’s fan base, I was the last to know about the concoction that is “Command To Charge”. With this has come a very strong desire for a mea culpa in leaving many unknowing readers with the notion that this band has released nothing but top of the line, Folk infused melodic Death/Black Metal. Suffice to say, the analogy I made towards this band’s output being on par with the consistency of BLACK SABBATH is still accurate, it’s just that now I’ve discovered their version of “Never Say Die”.
To be fair, Arkadius and the rest have not tried to merge heavy Metal with disco, but have instead gone for something Metallic yet almost as banal. The move towards a more orthodox Melodeath sound on “Signs For The Fallen” came with an intriguing new angel, but with it came the potential for the band to fall head first into the same commercialized, vapid sound that IN FLAMES did on “Reroute To Remain”. While this album isn’t quite as overtly wimpy sounding and loaded up with unnecessarily happy sounding sections meant to rope in Metalcore fans as said album, there is a frighteningly familiar tendency towards the same general character of sound.
Forget about any semblance of the past, or the future corrective measures that immediately followed this album on “Caledonia”, this sounds like an entirely different band, one that studied at the school of NIGHTRAGE yet forgot about how to avoid sounding like MACHINE HEAD during the semi-grunted clean vocal sections. That’s pretty well the principle flaw of this record, the vocals are an utter train wreck. Arkadius has traded in his signature Blackened Death bark for a whinny, agonizing wail that sounds way too much like Anders Friden at around the same time this was put out. Alongside this, Marcel Schonen’s chorus vocals sound like a poor version of an ANTHRAX gang chorus and the band actually pulled in a crappy groove Metal grunter as an addition foil to the principle vocals that sounds dangerously similar to Robb Flynn circa “The More Things Change“.
Musically this album is a better story, though at best it functions as a poor man’s “Clayman” with a hint of latter day NOCTURNAL RITES. The only places where any semblance of the band’s Folk roots come through is on “Dead Man’s Reel”, which is mercifully also an instrumental so that spares the three-fold nails on a chalkboard affect alluded to earlier. The incorporation of Scottish bagpipes adds a slight memory of earlier endeavors, almost like a lone pearl in a sea of faded stones. Beyond this song, it’s generally a question of pick your mediocre poison. Nothing on here qualifies as being downright awful, but most of it is fairly forgettable. It’s almost as if they selected a few of the better songs from the closing days of IN FLAMES’ better musical period and reworked them eight or nine different ways and threw in a few token acoustic sections for good measure.
I guess even the best of swimmers have to cramp up and choke once in a while, and thus far SUIDAKRA has only managed to do it once in a 17 year career that has spawned 10 full length albums. Definitely not a record to be ashamed of, though it would be a safe bet that Arkadius probably isn’t trotting out too many selections from this clunker on current tour sets. It’s actually a little ironic that during the same period of time many old guard Power Metal bands started hitting a creative slump, and along with it so did CHILDREN OF BODOM, so maybe something else was at work besides bad judgment, who knows. To put it bluntly, ELVENKING had “The Scythe”, CHILDREN OF BODOM had “Are You Dead Yet?”, and SUIDAKRA had “Command To Charge”.
(Online February 13, 2012)