The Binary Code – Priest
When The Binary Code‘s self-released, debut record made its way to Hearwax Media last year to be reviewed, it was praised for its keen sense of selectiveness, and criticized for its unwillingness to take risks. Priest serves both as a violent dismissal of the latter claim and as a cocktease to what people should expect from future releases. In this ten minute installment (disregarding an 8-bit remix), there are a handful of surprises for newcomers and fans alike. The Binary Code have made it very clear that they are not afraid to take some chances, and the writing on this EP is hardly comparable to the Poe-like enthusiasm for keeping all parts representative of the whole that was present on The Suspension of Disbelief. Due to this, and its shortness in length, this EP comes across as a taste of something bigger to come.
“Ocean of Light” is a good example of something to look forward to, based how effective is is for such a short-lived experience that tampers with post-metal influences. In just a minute in a half, it successfully builds a shifting, multi-dimensional atmosphere that is at once both devastatingly uninhabitable and ironically hopeful. Its structure and most of its core essentials are something new, yet the craftsmanship is unmistakably familiar. Although the vehicle has been dramatically reworked, tiny particles of the more upbeat passages from the full length remain and have found a niche in the crevices of their sound. It is unfortunate for me, then, that the band decided to derail this atmosphere mid song, leaving a short pause and then an out-of-character uninspired riff before repeating itself with less effect. Personally, I would have preferred if it had just ended, but be it a cruel joke or just the band having too much fun, one fact remains. Ocean of Light leaves the listener wanting more. If it is true that the band is going to venture into the realm of Cult of Luna-esque post metal with their next release, then Ocean of Light should be just enough to keep listeners waiting.
The title track abruptly takes front and center as it erupts into flamboyantly groovy altering 3/4 and 5/4 start-stop licks that will probably prove to be one of the more recognizable passages on the EP. This one is a well-written riff-based tune. The structure is more apparent and up-front, but excellent note choice and tasteful use of harmony give it enough flourishes to keep things from getting stagnant. The vocals also offer variety as they switch effortlessly between a deep, commanding growl and a highs that sound like they came off of one of Ihsahn‘s solo records between the pre-chorus and chorus. The song is not a far cry from some of the tracks on The Suspension of Disbelief, but it features a bridge that breaks up pacing and allows for a pretty obvious leap in direction that feels much “less safe”. The passage between “Priest” and “Encircled” is much smoother, as the riffy, technical sound that has been established up to this point makes itself the dominant feature of the EP, making the intro seem even more like a teaser than it already had. The song starts with a punchy, Black Dahlia Murder tinged riff, and builds in intensity by seamlessly weaving together fretboard melting licks, tremolo riffs, and tastefully placed chorus repetitions. Some panning tricks, lengthened bars, and groove breaks keep the sound fresh until it peaks and differentiates itself with some techier riffing and some crucial tapping.
All in all, The Binary Code have put together a pretty entertaining package here. Their music is self-referential by design, always keeping certain ideas in the back of their audience’s mind, and they have a very solid songwriting foundation that isn’t seen very often in today’s technical metal scene. This EP continues this trend. It’s not as atmospheric and single-minded as their full length, but it has two really fun, solid tracks and an intro that promises something interesting on the horizon. There is also an 8 bit remix of “Priest” included as a bonus track that is sure to leave all you NES nerds with cream in your jeans. With Priest, The Binary Code have solidified themselves as some of the best songwriters among unsigned bands, and one of the ones with the most hopeful future. Metalheads who are sick of A.D.D riddled, flashy-but-unwarranted technical metal, and record labels alike, take notice.