While Return Of The Arsonist (Fysisk Format) is a spiritual successor to the Hand Us The Alpha Male EP, the eight-year gap really shows the songwriting prowess Blood Command have amassed. There is less of a focus on the high octane, scattergun approach to the song structures and, as a result, more memorable moments.
The strength in these songs, and with Blood Command as a whole, is writing leads and choruses that you can sing back to yourself after just one listen, and because Return Of The Arsonist barely lasts fifteen minutes, just one listen won’t be nearly enough. The brilliantly titled ‘S01E02.Return.Of.The.Arsonist.720p.HDTV.x264’, while seemingly akin to ‘Summon The Arsonist’ from the previous EP, bares almost no resemblance to its predecessor and is all the better for it. Karina Ljone’s vocal delivery is the star of the show here, as it was with Cult Drugs (2017), displaying greater control and a more infectious kind of joy than the band’s earlier albums and EPs. Lead single ‘Afraid Of Water’ has a more somber tone to it but somehow manages to still be a Pop-Punk anthem that’ll have you singing your heart out.
It’s not all Pop and no Death in this Deathpop EP though. Opener ‘Don’t Strike A Match, Use The Lighter’ drops you into the erratic intensity right off the bat with chugging, Punk-like rhythm, and ‘No Thank You, I’m More Into Fake Grindcore’ bursts from the start with Ljone’s own distinctive kind of charming abrasiveness. The short, sharp, chaotic burst of energy that is ‘Ritual Knife’ is entertaining and opens with a jarring, stop-start riff, but is over in the blink of an eye to stick in the mind for any meaningful length of time and feels instead like a pause in between more notable songs. The vinyl exclusive track ‘Live Right Or Go Straight To Hell’ suffers from this issue as well and feels more like a B-side rather than an integral part of the record.
Counterintuitively, Return Of The Arsonist isn’t going to set the world on fire. There’s little here that will convince or offend you if you were not a fan previously, but for those who have always been on board with Blood Command’s sickeningly catchy frivolity, it serves as a pleasant stop-gap between records. Ultimately, it’s a brief but fun burst of youthful energy with enough earworms to satisfy even the grumpiest curmudgeon.
6 / 10