Demo:listen: High Command

Welcome to Demo:listen, your weekly peek into the future of underground metal. Whether it’s death, black, doom, sludge, grind, thrash, heavy, speed, progressive, stoner, retro, post-, etc. we’re here to bring you the latest demos from the newest bands. On this week’s Demo:listen, we march under the crimson banner of revenge into the heart of Secartha to take back the throne with Worcester, Mass’ High Command.

Who knows what you’re expecting from this week’s band, but if you’ve yet to hear High Command then you are in for a treat, my friend. It is sincerely my pleasure to bring you this excellent demo. High Command are a quintet based in Worcester, Massachusetts, and theirs is a brawny and narrative-driven kind of crossover, draped in outlandish lore, taking zero prisoners. As Ryan, one of the guitarists, explains: “Worcester has a pretty tight knit music scene and [the members of High Command] are all friends that I have known for years through various bands and have grown an admiration for in regards to their playing. Kevin [the vocalist of High Command] and I had been talking for a couple years previously about getting something going like this and I finally decided to get a move on it in the fall of 2015 and assemble the rest of the band with dudes I knew had a healthy respect for thrash/crossover.”

Regarding that highly effective intro track, “The Infernal March,” Ryan says: “Honestly, I got that idea from film scores. I feel like in movies like The Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Conan, etc etc there is always this huge war beat that fades in and out with a moment of silence before the battle begins and I wanted to do the same thing . . .”

Once the intro track has properly ensanguined the listener, the rest of The Secartha Demos is a simultaneously artful and over-the-top demonstration of songwriting prowess and violent removal of all competition. There is simply no one else making crossover/thrash this mean, this atmospheric, or this tough. “Robert E. Howard, Karl Edward Wagner, J.R.R. Tolkien,” Ryan says, listing High Command’s various non-musical influences, “Dungeons and Dragons, fast cars, Genesee Ice and the New England Patriots.” While musically, High Command seem only to be concerned with writing songs as tough and menacing as they can manage, pulling and mixing from various  sources like the Cro-Mags, Manowar, Integrity, early Slayer, Power Trip, etc. 

But what really separates High Command from their peers is their lyrics. According to HC’s vocalist Kevin, who wrote the story that is The Secartha Demos’ lyrics: “Secartha is the kingdom wherein the story of the demo takes place. Dikeptor, the outcast hero, seeks to regain his rightful position on the throne of Secartha that had been previously usurped.”

“We have a few shows under our belt,” Ryan says. Adding that the response to High Command live has “been overwhelmingly positive so far, and yes, as the great Kid Rock would say, sometimes people are inclined to ‘get in the pit and try to love someone.’” So if you’re from the area and have yet to catch High Command at a show, be on the lookout because they’re playing in January with Panzerbastard and One Master. A band like High Command is as at home playing a black metal show as they would be on some punk andhardcore fest because they’ve got undeniably powerful riffage, inspiring energy, and it’s just impossible to jam The Secartha Demos and without getting worked up into a bristling rage.

Somehow tapes of The Secartha Demos remain available. But even after the first round has sold out, Ryan assures me that there will be a repress. “[T]he reaction the demo got took us all a little by surprise,” he says, “but we will certainly make sure anyone who wants a tape gets one!” Meanwhile, High Command are already working on new material and soon intend to venture and vanquish beyond their own kingdom. AKA They’re looking to tour. Don’t miss High Command if they ride through your town, and don’t let the sun go down on this day without checking out The Secartha Demos.

You heard it here first on Demo:listen. Check this space next and every Friday for promising new metal.