Code - _Resplendent Grotesque_
(Tabu, 2009)
by: Pedro Azevedo (9 out of 10)
_Nouveau Gloaming_, the debut of this UK-based avantgarde black metal act, was one of my most played albums of the last few years. It didn't seem like much at first; unconventional and often even jarring, it somehow found a way back to my playlist every once in a while. After a while I realized it had all fallen into place, all the pieces made sense, and its full brilliance was revealed -- one of the black metal highlights of this decade for sure.

No pressure then, _Resplendent Grotesque_. After the trio almost changed most of its line-up a number of times over the years since their debut, the new album comes out with original members Kvohst, Aort and Vicotnik, along with second guitarist Andras and well-known drummer Adrian Erlandsson. After all the uncertainty -- with the loss of vocalist Kvohst an especially grim prospect -- it was quite reassuring to know the same creative core would be behind this new effort. At not much more than a half hour in length, surely there would be no risk of any filler either; upon first listen, I expected nothing less than the full-length album of the year.

_Resplendent Grotesque_ is indeed my favourite full-length of 2009, aside from my unusual and perhaps somewhat illogical choice of an EP as best record of 2009 (Wolves in the Throne Room's _Malevolent Grain_, if you want to know, because it's such a brilliantly distilled achievement). While this can only be good news in the sense that surely _Resplendent Grotesque_ cannot be a disappointment, neither is it a guarantee that the album is quite such a complete triumph as I had -- perhaps unrealistically -- hoped for.

I never expected, nor wanted, a remake of _Nouveau Gloaming_, and Code certainly did not rest on their laurels. Quirky and unconventional as it may be, with Kvohst's unique clean vocals and Vicotnik's bass lines at the forefront, it is also a much more direct album, with shorter songs and less gloomy Victorian era fog around it. "The Rattle of Black Teeth", "Jesus Fever" and "I Hold Your Light" are my current stand-out tracks, but for rather different reasons than those that made virtually each and every track on _Nouveau Gloaming_ so special in its own way.

For such a short album, I would have really liked its entirety to be every bit as brilliant as it unquestionably gets at its best, but that really is the only criticism I have. While a few of the tracks are only very good, as opposed to excellent, _Resplendent Grotesque_ is an entirely respectable follow-up to the landmark that was _Nouveau Gloaming_, which is saying a lot.


(article published 14/2/2010)

5/31/2005 J Smit Code: A New Darkness Upon Us
4/19/2005 J Smit 7 Code - Nouveau Gloaming
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