Now You Know: Code

Wednesday, 8th January 2014

Formation: 2002
Location: London, England
Style: Progressive black metal, with high-wattage technicality, melodic fluidity, and clean vocals a-plenty.
Personnel: Wacian (vocals); Aort (guitars); Andras (guitars); Syhr (bass); Lordt (drums).
Latest Release: Augur Nox (Agonia Records)

Certainly not enthused by the album-in-every-four-years schedule, U.K. progressive black metal squad Code look to attain something in 2014 that they’ve never quite had before: Stability and momentum. (That’s two things, actually.) Regularly beset by typical lineup changeovers, the band has even toyed with the idea of having two members of the Borknagar past-and-present cadre help out for their 2009 album, Resplendent Grotesque. Alas, that didn’t come to fruition, but 2013’s Augur Nox certainly did, and it’s a brute, complex, highly-realized outing…just the way forward-thinking extreme metal should be drawn up.

“Our albums are always a product of the individuals who created them, as there is always complete freedom to adapt their parts and make overall suggestions,” begins guitarist/founding member Aort. “The final songs always sound very different to the original demos so we never know exactly how a song is going to sound and feel right up until the final master. The album is very much a group effort, so I would say is a firm reflection of our new line up and approach to writing for Code.”

The now-solidified Code stable is a breath of a fresh air to Aort. More specifically, the potential big-names that would have accompanied Resplendent Grotesque could have boxed the band in, including one ICS Vortex, who was this close to handling vocals on said album. “His schedule was just too full on to give Code the time it needed so that never actually came to fruition. I wouldn’t say I am glad that it didn’t come together, but there are pros and cons to both sides of that equation. I always try to work with people who I think are the right person for the job regardless of who they are. The music always comes first and foremost so anything that comes with having a certain person in the band is, at the end of the day just a by-product for me.”

New vocalist Wacian emerges as one of the album’s primary players, lending a harmonious clean vocal blend that is rather welcome. His best work can be heard across “Becoming Host” or the sprawling “Grimlight Tourist” (which was given video treatment), and it’s not a reach that this gent should be ranked upon some of extreme metal’s more up-and-coming vocalists. Aort explains the connection:

“Simply, it was his versatility that was the key. Singing in Code is a tough gig as that versatility is so important since the first songs that were written for the band. It wasn’t just the technical aspect however. Just as important is the ability to work with the music and draw the songs in a certain direction as a lot of the material is quite melodically ambiguous. This does give the vocalist a huge amount of freedom but at the same time, it is also a big challenge to pull the threads together to make everything hang together and Wacian has done a truly remarkable job.”

Elsewhere, deft complexity and cerebral songwriting gets a go via the pair of “The Lazarus Cord” and the excellent “Harmonies in Cloud.” While the vast intricacy of both songs (and a few other across Augur Nox) would suggest that deeper listening is required to get into Code, the fact remains that these cuts translate with plenty of conviction and work because of the attention paid to the almighty riff.

“The songs you mentioned are almost a reaction to the simple songs such as ‘Becoming Host’ which is probably the most straight-ahead song we have ever written,” relays Aort. “The structure on the song is pretty much from the pop rulebook of song writing. The songs always start with a riff, and if the riff leads to something concise then we follow it in that direction. If it leads to something where it doesn’t immediately resolve itself then we won’t contrive to bring the song to an early conclusion if it doesn’t make sense instinctually. I always follow my instincts and pay great attention to song structure on a case by case basis so even if a song is longer and more intricate, it still hangs together and is enjoyable to listen to.”

A few months into its release, Augur Nox is garnering Code some nice helpings of critical praise, a happening that will hopefully boost the band’s profile in their U.K. locale, and across mainland Europe, where a thirst for the progressive is never quenched. And with a stable lineup to go along with such a strong new body of work, Aort sounds optimistic as to what 2014 holds.

“We really hope to get out to as many places as we can and show people what we can do. We have the strongest line up we have ever had, we are playing better than we ever have before and we are having a blast playing songs new and old so pester your local promoters if you want to see us near you. The primary focus will be getting out on stage as much as possible, but also I want to really start writing seriously for the next album. I have been playing with some different ideas and am working out in my own head where to start directing where we go from here….it could be time for a shake up.”

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