SUIDAKRA, Command to Charge (2005, Locomotive)

The skull:
I suppose we’re expected to understand the background to be a splashing pool of liquid metal or something, but to me it looks more like fancy satin sheets, and because that interpretation especially confounds any possible meaning in this cover, I’m going to go with it. The skull is undeniably metal, maybe chromed steel, with some celtic designs printed thereon, because this German band is really into Ireland and Scotland, for some reason. Most puzzling is the bullet casing in the skull’s teeth. At first I thought this was another case of an artist not knowing how bullets work, expecting us to think the skull caught a fired bullet in his teeth. But then I noticed the smoke and have to conclude that the skull, for some reason, was holding a cartridge in his teeth when someone else struck the primer, expelling the lead backward. Or something. Sure, the smoke should be coming from the other end of the cartridge, but whatever. Artistic license. From the way the skull is positioned, I guess the bullet would probably clear the base of the skull in the back, and maybe that’s why the skull looks so smugly pleased with himself and his badass trick.

The music:
When I first heard Suidakra in the late 90s, they were an also-ran melodic death metal band of the sort you couldn’t get away from back then. Think early In Flames mixed with a little Dissection, even, but not as good as that sounds. They were fine, but undistinguished. Then some time in the early 00s, they hitched their wagons to bagpipes and jigs, and were all set for the coming popularity of “pagan metal,” which is a label that makes less and less sense every year. By the time of Command to Charge, all of the genuine heaviness had been purged from the band’s sound, turning them into, in effect, a low-tuned power metal band with some death vocals. The clean vocals are rather bad, too. The whole affair, while not exactly unpleasant, is almost offensively bland: death metal for kilt enthusiasts. Where’s that bullet to the brain when you need it?
— Friar Johnsen

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