LIVE REVIEW: CODE @ The Devonshire Arms, London
It’s another glorious Saturday night at every London metaller’s favourite watering-hole and, as the clock inches ever closer to the midnight hour, the serious business of heavy, liver-punishing weekend drinking is well and truly underway. “It’s a little bit like Cheers here, but with more black leather and chains,” explains one cheerful regular to his faintly terrified-looking friend in a manner not unlike David Attenborough narrating the sweeping plains of the Serengeti. And beyond the sporadic clink and clatter of heavy-duty glassware and the beer-sodden banter of close friends, something infinitely darker is just minutes away from unfolding.
Without so much as a flicker of hesitation or introductory pleasantry, blackened aggressors CODE plunge listeners headlong into a churning onslaught of tautly muscular aggression that leaves the synapses instantly crackling with adrenaline. Interlacing lush, exquisitely twisted melodic accents within its savage central backbone of gnarly, frostbitten groove, it’s with ripping, insanely paced momentum that the London five-piece accelerate into 'Pollution Vigil's' blinding frenzy of hyperblasting ultra-violence. Clinging theatrically to a conveniently situated piece of stage rigging, acerbic-throated frontman Wacian belches forth a bloodcurdling hail of screams above expansive, distortion-laden whorls of Pink Floyd-flavoured riffage. Delivered with impeccable precision and an intoxicating richness of sound that floods the eardrums with its pummelling, pitch-black presence, the steadily growing throng of fans clustered around the stage speaks volumes for CODE's violent and instantaneous appeal.
But just as soon as the band seem to have settled firmly into this decidedly blackened mode of extremity, it’s in a bewildering flurry of discordant notes and sleekly unravelling fretwork that ‘Glimlight Tourist’ works its haunting autumnal magic on the senses. With more than a glimmer of ‘Blackwater Park’-era Opeth about this darkly atmospheric curveball, it’s with fluid ease and agility that Wacian easily shifts pace back and forth between bloodcurdling screams and sumptuous cleans above a pounding undertow of percussion. Then, once again, there’s a distinctive darkening of tone as 'White Triptych's' gargling implosion of screams punctuate luxuriant layers of ink-black distortion and ragged, frantically accelerating tremolo. And as the final, distortion-laden bars of this blistering set leave fans thoroughly drunk on adrenaline, it’s a rare and unexpected treat to witness an act whose genre-smashing inventiveness is rivalled only by their blistering, darkly atmospheric presence.
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