CODE – Augur Nox (Agonia Records)

Wednesday, 11th December 2013
Rating: 8/10

Despite the rigid ideals of many of its pioneers, black metal is an incredibly malleable template from which to forge a unique sound. The past half-decade has seen an absurd amount of variation come forth with the black metal core being stretched out in ways never thought possible. Enter CODE and their magically melodic/techy/left-field take on the sound in Augur Nox. An under-the-radar release for this year if there is one, it is nevertheless a lovingly worthwhile exercise in dynamics and the exploratory.

Opener “Black Rumination” should give you a great impression of what exactly Augur Nox holds in store for the listener: harsh and driving blackened sections giving way to almost soaring semi-choruses and melodic breaks, quite akin to Vintersorg but without the hyper-dramatic transitions. Vocal embellishments similar to that on Garm-era Arcturus abound throughout on “Becoming Host”, “Garden Chancery” and “The Strike Screw.” The use of melody across this album really cannot be understated, for while there are plenty of excursions into the brutal, this is a high-flying indulgence in the pretty, and it’s awesome because of it.

Late-album standout “Trace of God” is an upbeat and forceful number, bounding from aforementioned vocal highlights into one of the best guitar solo-spots on the album, all in a very tightly bound and song-friendly structure (and in less than four minutes). Closer “White Triptych” is a mercurial indulgence in all of the elements that shine across the album and wrapping them up in a searing seven-minute package. Perhaps saying that this has a black metal core is a bit much, though it certainly has a blackened vibe to much of it. No matter the genre stylings you choose to hear in it, Augur Nox is a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

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