Review Summary: Stellar songwriting, strong performance. Nothing less, nothing more.
Code, generally speaking, never really made a big mark on the black metal scene. The lead singer Kvhost had just finished recording an album for Dødheimsgard which had gone over mildly well. He then embarked on his new project which he called Code. Their first product was Nouveau Gloaming. It was avant-garde, but missing the factor that separated it from bands like Dødheimsgard and Van Buens Ende. So what is the solution" Easy, Resplendent Grotesque. It was overlooked on its release, more so than their debut which is really a shame because it is a splendid album.
If there is one thing that stands out on this album, it is most defiantly the vocals. You immediately notice them, and you begin to realize this is something new and different. Kvhost has an eerily powerful voice. His range is not remarkable; in fact it is quite monotonous but, his voice is so unique it makes up for it. For those who have never heard Resplendent’s vocals, it can be compared to the old days of The Smiths and The Cure. These vocals were no where to be seen on the first album. Kvhost also has many forms of screaming on the album, from whispering, to growls, and shrieks. He never quite captures that essential black metal sound with his vocals, but he substitutes enough for it not to matter.
If the vocals don’t catch you, the lyrics may. Kvhost has extremely good song writing skills. His lyrics are deep and often spread to other topics not conventional to black metal. Topics like politics and anti-conformity are addressed on this album, as well as depression and sadness. A good example of his stellar song writing skills is on the song “I Hold Your Light.” Here is and excerpt: “Drag me through the wives, lawns, and suburbs. You the great destroyer of my childhood.” Also note most of the lyrics are extremely catchy. It’s very accessible, even if you are not a black metal fan. Black metal overall has very good lyrical writing but this album’s lyrics are very strong nevertheless.
Though Resplendent is good, it is not a perfect album. It has many slight weaknesses that separate it from a higher rating rating. First, the album does not vary much at all. The same song structure is used throughout. 3-5 minute songs, 5 verses, 2 choruses in almost every song. The instrumentation does not change much throughout. Each song starts softer and the guitar becomes heavier, and double bass becomes more prevalent as the song elapses. The other fact is that people may listen to this album looking for a black metal album. The album is trying to be extremely avant-garde and it doesn’t quite make the cut, simply because it’s not unique as it could have been. While it has that black metal sound, it may not be liked by all black metal songs. The only song that is actually sounds like a black metal song is “Possession Is the Medicine” which is the weakest song on the album. Its chorus is bulky and somewhat generic, and doesn’t fit into the smoothness this album presents.
If you are looking for an accessible, and catchy black metal album this is for you. If you are looking for something fresh and new, this is for you too. Overall, Resplendent Grotesque is a fun, well written album that could sure keep you busy for a while. Songs that stand out are “Smothering the Crones” “Jesus Fever” and “I Hold Your Light.”