In every style of music, young bands need to find a way to stand out; either by being groundbreaking or even revolutionary – which is obviously a very hard thing to do – or by doing the same thing the established bands are doing, and trying to be as good, or even better. The latter option is a fair one, but history has proven to us that it doesn’t make a band last very long. With their debut album German post-metal act codeia are opting for a combination of both strategies. “don’t be afraid”, she whispered and disappeared presents a sound that is firmly rooted in the work of the genre’s greats, but it breaks to mould in enough places to provide a future pathway to new grounds.
RELEASE DATE: 02 June 2017 LABEL: Backbite Records
Like its long name seems to imply, “don’t be afraid”, she whispered and disappeared is a weighty record, with its mere three songs that last more than three-quarters of an hour. The album opens with a 22-minute long track called lost in translation, which is definitely the centrepiece of the album, and which is followed by two “shorter” tracks of respectively nine and fifteen minutes. Thinking about such track lengths would generally make me tired, but from the first instances of the album, codeia have my full attention. The band heavily relies on atmospherics, creating soft pockets of consciousness for the listener to reside in, making them forget about time and space. Meanwhile, calculated outbursts of heavy guitars function as bridges between these pockets, making the music change direction keeping things fresh and exciting.
Conceptually, codeia leave the listener little to grab on to. The words don’t really come through very well in the singing, so without a lyric sheet it is hard to probe into the band’s mind. All that remains is a spoken word passage halfway through lost in translation which compares the volatility of knowledge with the unpredictability of possession—don’t know what you got, until it’s gone. In an inverse relationship, you think what you know to be true, but at the moment you state it or merely think it, it is already irrelevant or untrue.
The second track neatly continues the atmospheric mood, after lost in translation goes out in a bang. shaping stone might make the listener think of Terraformer’s latest record, but soon the soft tremolo picking goes over in a neat little guitar solo that accompanies and accentuates the returning clean vocals. The sonic climax of the album is formed by the advent of blast beats and layered harsh vocals in the latter half of the song, taking the album to new heights before coming to a grinding halt and flowing over into the last track. facing extinction, with its stop-start riffing, forms a curious counterpoint to the drawn out atmospherics of lost in translation, but even though codeia step out of their comfort zone here, they pull it off very well.
The vocals on “don’t be afraid”, she whispered and disappeared are rather distinctive, with the prevalent semi-harsh vocals of bassist Denis S. appearing to sound forced and awkward. However, the oddness quickly fades as the listener easily grows accustomed to them with the progression of the album. The clean vocals are more accessible, at times leaning slightly to the sound of Metallica singer James Hetfield, which creates a point of rest and recognition for the listener.
Production is always sensitive issue when it comes to young bands, and codeia are no exception here. The overall sound of the album is subdued – only the drums stand out a little – and intently listening to the album at lower volumes is near impossible. The sophisticated songwriting and excellent atmospheric qualities get lost easily in the grey haze of guitars, so my advice is to turn this record all the way up when listening!
With “don’t be afraid”, she whispered and disappeared, codeia have created a most impressive debut that could very well be a gateway to new sonic territories. With its well-written music and convincing mood, this album will certainly appeal to fans of post-metal bands that accentuate the atmospheric side of their music, like Isis, Light Bearer, Terraformer and Atoma.
“don’t be afraid”, she whispered and disappeared is available as a digital download through codeia’s Bandcamp page. Physical formats are handled by Backbite Records, which offers the record in both CD and vinyl formats.
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