"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Code - "mut" (CD)

Code - "mut" CD cover image

"mut" track listing:

1. on blinding larks
2. undertone
3. dialogue
4. affliction
5. contours
6. inland sea
7. cocoon
8. numb, an author
9. the bloom in the blast

Reviewed by on January 28, 2015

"'Mut' is an intriguing experiment in what it means to be an extreme metal band that overall holds attention and is never boring, even without shrieks and blast beats."

Code just keeps shaking things up, continuously transforming and experimenting in new directions with each successive release. “Mut” (which is supposed to be written lowercase – along with all song titles – but I'm going to use proper upper case punctuation in grammatical protest) sees the avant-garde U.K. band pushing itself even further towards the dark rock side than on previous album “Augur Nox,” which itself dropped a significant portion of the black metal aspects from earlier releases.

The change in direction is immediately apparent with opening track “On Blinding Larks,” which has a strong Soen/Tool feel to it, with a touch of black influence in the background. Listening through the album, fans will find there was a bit of a misdirect with how the album was advertised. The press releases made it seem like this was going to be entirely post-rock or atmospheric metal (giving auditory flashbacks of the latest Todtgelichter album), but that's not precisely the case. While there is much less of the abrasive black metal that was on preceding albums, that doesn't mean it isn't still an intensely dark release.

“Dialogue,” for instance, has a very brooding feel, while the following track, “Affliction,” breaks the rule altogether with a depressive black metal atmosphere and vocals that go a harsher route, even though the track overall stays more restrained and atmospheric than out-and-out heavy. It's an interesting combination that appears on much of the album from that point onward, showing that a band can make “metal” without having shredding or blast beats. “Contours” is another highlight showing off that dichotomy, keeping the music more in the atmospheric dark rock arena even while using a heavy medium to deliver it. “Inland Sea” throws in a quick paced, distorted guitar riff for another metal-but-not-quite experience.

For the most part, this new sound from Code works extremely well, with only a few issues popping up where it doesn't come together as smoothly. “Cocoon” for instance is a bit of a mixed bag, with fantastically emotive vocals and a catchy rhythm in the middle, but overall feeling a bit too minimalist, like its missing an element that didn't make it in the final cut. By the time final track “The Bloom In The Blast” shows up, there has also been enough of the same ground tread that the album does start to feel repetitive with no full-on black metal breaking anything up.

It's hard to say if this is the shape of things to come (is Code following in the footsteps of Anathema, Opeth, and Katatonia?) or just a side trek for experimentation’s sake, and really only time can answer that question. For now, “Mut” is an intriguing experiment in what it means to be an extreme metal band that overall holds attention and is never boring, even without shrieks and blast beats.

Highs: Dark atmosphere so thick you can cut it with a knife, and an interesting blend of Tool style rock with black metal aesthetics.

Lows: The overall lack of extreme metal is a bit disappointing, and the album as a whole could use a few higher or lower points to shake things up.

Bottom line: Code shakes things up, ditching black metal and filtering dark rock through a heavy medium.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)