Code - Resplendent Grotesque
Tabu Recordings
Progressive Metal, Post-Black
8 songs (34:44 )
Release year: 2009
Tabu Recordings
Reviewed by Goat

After his departure from Dødheimsgard in 2008, Kvohst hooked back up with Viper (aka Vicotnik, also of Dødheimsgard) and Aort to return to his Code project. The band’s first album, 2005’s Nouveau Gleaming, was a well-received blast of leftfield Black Metal that painted a twisted world indeed. Well, Resplendent Grotesque doesn’t quite follow it exactly; for one, the harshness is slightly toned down, the Prog aspects taking precedence over the Black Metal here. Opening with echoing voices and post-Black riffing, Smother The Crones soon makes its atmospheric presence known, complete with a catchy chorus and clean vocals from Kvohst, proving his range here far better than he did on Dødheimsgard’s Supervillian Outcast.

Throughout the album, this contrast between harshness and melody is explored to the full, whether it’s In The Privacy Of Your Own Bones’ whimsical, almost Steven Wilson-esque clean vocals and ambient section, or the dreamlike The Rattle Of Black Teeth. Fans of Nouveau Gleaming may well be surprised just how much more melodic Resplendent Grotesque is – the influence from recent Dødheimsgard is clearly much greater. Yet fear not, for this album is free of bleeps and Industrial whistles, making its musical case with equal skill as its predecessor. It’s a good twenty minutes shorter, for one thing, even the more Blackened tracks like the groovy Possession Is The Medicine making their points much faster with less repetition of riffs and atmosphere-making than before.

The musicianship’s certainly above criticism – Adrian Erlandsson was the session drummer here, and he does an excellent job, but both Aort’s guitar and Viper’s bass and backing vocals are stellar, and Kvohst will, again, be a revelation for anyone expecting another Supervillain Outcast-esque monotonous grunt. Imagine late Emperor jamming with Arcturus and Katatonia and you’re nearly there; but Code have here created a pretty unique sound for themselves. To be honest, I caught myself thinking several times during listens that Resplendent Grotesque would have been better as an EP. By the time you’ve reached I Hold Your Light, the band definitely seem to be repeating themselves, and it’s a good thing that the album is just over half an hour, as much more would be pushing it. That’s not to say that I Hold Your Light or any track isn’t an absolute delight to listen to, the melodic web that Code weave being quite bewitching, and if you’re approaching this album having not heard the debut, there’s little chance but that you’ll love it.

People coming on from Nouveau Gleaming, however, should be forewarned. This is definitely a mild shift in direction for Code, and whilst the chances are that you’ll appreciate it as much as that album’s out-there moments, the shorter length alone will be one possible reason for disappointment. Whatever you think about it, however, it’s undeniable that Kvohst and co have here made a great little Post-Black album that’s deeper than it first appears, a work of art in a sea of cheap imitations.

Killing Songs :
Smother The Crones, In The Privacy Of Your Own Bones, I Hold Your Light
Goat quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Code that we have reviewed:
Code - Flyblown Prince reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Code - mut reviewed by Goat and quoted 60 / 100
Code - Augur Nox reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
Code - Nouveau Gloaming reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
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