Code’s latest release only came out last January, but the progressive black metallers clearly feel they have more to offer 2017, and new EP Under The Subgleam shows their captivating strain of avant-garde black metal is just as effective over 12-minutes. In fact, the EP continues a progression that seemingly began on this year’s Lost Signal – where 2015’s Mut moved away from the fierce black metal of their origins, Lost Signal saw the band rekindling this fury as they re-imagined past hits. Under The Subgleam, however, almost wholly returns to a more savage sound, but not without the frenzied, imaginative approach to the subgenre from which Code emerged.

The subtleties of the UK five-piece’s sound are – as is to be expected – less evident here, but Code still impress, and manage to make their sound as engrossing as usual, kicking things off with intro track ‘Toll’, made up of a sequence of tolling bells getting steadily louder. It doesn’t take long for ‘Plot Of Skinned Heavens’ to launch into blastbeats and Nergal-esque guttural yells soon afterwards, though.

The band don’t refrain from flaunting their black metal influences, but refuse to submit to some of the genre’s stifling elitism, happily experimenting with varying textures, regardless of whether they make things a softer or heavier affair. Black metal diehards may even resent the band’s sparse use of cleaner vocals, but they add an air of emotiveness to a sound that would otherwise be a volatile but more straightforward wrath. Guitarists Andras and Aort (the band’s last remaining founding member) provide incendiary black metal riffs throughout, but are equally at home during occasional grooves and chugging muscular riffs.

When the band released ‘Plot Of Skinned Heavens’ in October, they commented that “after the bleak, anaesthetic wash of our last album, Mut, we felt the need to reconnect with the bleak yet ornate darkness of our earlier releases.” This aim clearly rings true throughout Under The Subgleam, a short release that seems to bridge the gap between Mut’s post-rock-informed experimentation and a more primitive form of black metal. The meat of the release can be found within it’s middle two tracks, but the opener and closer add an air of disconcerting mysticism that would suit a full-length well. If Code can repeat the multi-faceted music of these four tracks on their next album, it’ll most likely be an LP worth checking out.

Under The Subgleam is out now on Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings. Purchase here.

Words: George Parr

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