High Command’s Thrashing Mayhem is “Fortified by Bloodshed” (Interview + Stream New Track)
Worcester warriors High Command return with their sophomore effort Eclipse of the Dual Moons: another act in their high flying crossover wizardry which heavily features Bay Area thrash in conjunction with traditional heavy metal from the US and abroad. This new disc has an obvious air of grandeur, as the songs’ lengths which were already long by comparison to their contemporaries have now nearly topped a 12 minute length on the album’s final salvo “Spires of Secartha,” while the rest of the affair really does its best to prepare the listener for what is coming.
What helps to set High Command apart from the typical crossover chaos is that they tend to rely more on medieval mayhem as opposed to politically charged furor, almost as if they took the lyrical themes of Eternal Champion and married them properly with Iron Age’s style (when can we contact Jason Tarpey for a cameo on the next album?) We spoke about the time since the last record was released, their unique place in metal, album art, and much more. Plus we have the distinct pleasure of including a new single “Fortified By Bloodshed” alongside this piece which features some of the next level thinking (including a Hammond organ) by this unified front of chaos, magic and crushing music. Read on and listen to what these Massachusetts maniacs have been up to.
What has it been like in the years since you released Beyond The Wall of Desolation?
An aeon encased in a dreamless slumber, now awakened once again to usher in a new era of bloodshed and sorcery. The time of steel is upon us. Hark! The Horn of Secartha cries its song upon the horizon!
What are your favorite tours and/or shows that you have been a part of since then?
Europe in June of 2022 was definitely a huge highlight for us. We had the pleasure of being invited to a few of the big open-air festivals they have over there to strut our stuff on the big stage. It was a real trip being billed on the same day as a lot of our heroes and seeing what goes into these massive elaborate stage shows. Seeing Mercyful Fate at midnight surrounded by at least 30k other metal maniacs in Copenhagen was a life altering experience. The hospitality over there and the community on the whole was some of the best and most welcoming we’ve ever experienced. We can’t wait to return with this new album, along with all the other far reaches of the globe.
As of typing this, this hasn’t happened yet, but America’s Hardcore Fest 2022 in Boston Dec 2nd will be one of the most important shows we will ever play. Solely for the fact that it is the long-awaited return of Fuming Mouth now that my friend Mark Whelan is cancer free after his recent bout with AML. Seeing them take the stage again that Friday will be a defining moment for Massachusetts Metal.
What is the story behind the album’s title?
Eclipse of the Dual Moons is a continuation of our vocalist Kevin’s original sword and sorcery saga. Think of the new LP, lyrically speaking, as a pulp novel in the style of Michael Moorecock, Jack Vance and HP Lovecraft. Going back to our demo, listeners can hash out an epic tale chronologically of our hero Dikeptor and the kingdom of Secartha. In the Third Realm, the dual moons eclipsing is a portent of doom. An omen of War. The new album is a chronicle of what happens when it hangs perilously in the sky.
The title track totally soars in what is close to classic thrash metal, what was the influence on particular parts of that track?
I appreciate you saying that. I think on this record we leaned way heavier into the metal side of our influences than ever before. We have a pretty big affinity for the bay area and LA in the 80’s so I think in that regard it’s an ode to that particular era of thrash. Maybe a lost track from the first few Metal Massacre comps.
The album art is very striking and less metallically obtrusive than your last full-length foray, who was the artist behind this and why the shift to subtlety?
Our frequent collaborator Ryan Jarvis (@suture_and_soil on IG) has spent countless hours, going back to the demo days, crafting a cohesive and linear visual component to the band that tells as much of a story as the lyrics itself. A meticulous madman with the x-acto knife, Jarvis took Kevin’s concept for this new album and created a tangible landscape of another world. I think he nailed it; it definitely reminds me of some lost tome or a forgotten fantasy novel sitting on the shelves of a used book store. While influenced by some of the more striking punk artwork of the 80’s (a la Crass, GISM, Amebix) I feel as though his art has transcended beyond genre definition, resulting in works that are strikingly unique and unlike anything else out there.
We are streaming “Fortified By Bloodshed” alongside this piece, a slow urn with some synth thrown in for good measure. What can you tell people about the track that makes it stand out on Eclipse of Dual Moons?
That’s a Hammond B3 through a Leslie. It’s one of my favorite sounding instruments of all time. It has a certain power to it that can rip a hole in the cosmos if you aren't careful. As someone who grew up with his father playing 60s/70s rock in the truck all the time it was definitely done as an ode to that era. We visited HP Lovecraft’s grave before recording it, so I don't know, maybe the inspiration came from a world beyond.
As I mentioned earlier, we drew a lot of more inspiration from traditional metal on this record than in the past. This track in particular had a lot of Mercyful Fate and Dio influence. Maybe even some epic doom in the likes of Candlemass and Trouble. To my ears it’s just good ol' fashioned head banging, fist pumping, beer drinking Metal.
The closer on this album, “Spires Of Secartha” is a behemoth at nearly 12 minutes, crossover thrash isn’t known for songs of that magnitude, what inspired this big time project to close things out?
It wasn’t really an intentional thing to be honest but it just kind of worked out that way. We like to choose themes in regards to riff writing and have them circle back later in different ways to keep things interesting but cohesive. Listening back to demos of the song, it really didn't FEEL 12 min long. As a band, the longer tracks of our influences have always stood in good rapport with us.
Tracks like Satan’s Fall, To Live is to Die, Master of Puppets, Demon’s Gate were definitely on constant rotation during the writing process.
Lyrically speaking, the song chronicles a massive battle that determines the fate of Secartha. It only makes sense to try to match the epicness of the subject matter with big grandiose musical passages. I think if one pays close attention, the song mirrors the ebb and flow of the onslaught.
What has it been like to play some of these live, including that brief run you just finished with Dead Heat and Final Gasp?
Incredible. That might have been our favorite run of shows we’ve done in the states to date. The reaction was immense. Siege Warfare seems to have that catchy quality that had people singing along already. We even played an unreleased track off the album that immediately had the circle pit going every night, so I suppose that’s a good sign. Being able to watch Final Gasp and Dead Heat every night was a real treat. Both of them are absolutely devastating live and among the best bands out right now for sure.
What does the future hold for High Command in general, any big plans?
We are still in the planning stages for a lot of things so we have to keep it clandestine for the moment. But I’ll say this. When Eclipse of the Dual Moons drops there will be nowhere in the world safe from the wrath of the Command.
Anything you would like to add?
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. And to everyone reading, we’ll be seeing you on the battlefield!
Eclipse of the Dual Moons releases November 25th via Southern Lord Recordings.