Some bands find their feet quicker than others. The Voynich Code have barely been together for a year and have already produced an EP worthy of a far longer gestation period. Combine this with the fact they are all school botheringly young and the notion of prodigal achievement very quickly rears its head.
Using Deathcore as the jumping off point for their musical explorations, TVC have filled out the natural abyss inside Deathcore with a plethora of intriguing experiments. Most noticeably they have allowed the rigid syncopation of Tech modality to provide a rhythmic personality that is quite often lacking in this kind of metal.
Most of the songs on this EP are mid-paced and brooding. A choice which I feel works considerably to their advantage; primarily in steering them (for the most part) gently but firmly away from the tropes and clichés of the breakdown. Allowing them to dedicate their efforts on the twin pillars of atmosphere and melody.
In terms of atmosphere, think Ovids Withering without the cloying faux-Greek mythology. The darkly luminous guitars carousing with the sinuous and eclectic vocals to produce an eerily nihilistic vision of a bleak and hopeless future. This is exactly what I look for in the tone of DC; the world is fucked and you can't change the future.
Stealthy use of synths and pizzicato phrasing on the guitar is redolent of how Nexilva sent shivers down my spine while listening to Eschatologies. And their application on this record is no less effective. Their delicate nature being a chilling counterpoint to the robust and muscular body of the songs; like the small but steely talons of an immense HellBeast dedicated to your destruction. Providing proof, if you needed it, that the fear you are experiencing is real, valid and necessary.
The drums are both savage and savvy. Knowing just where to drive and where to support. Using the decimal approach of Djenticular grooves to underline how in control of their music The Voynich Code are. Moreover they operate at a pace that is very much intended to inspire movement. Occasionally blasting faster for effect but more often using snare focused syncopation to enliven a phrase and provide groovy emphasis.
Vocally, Nelson Rebelo manages to marry the styles of deep sub-lingual brees and searing rasps together into a compelling and fear inducing manner. Layers of subtlety delivered stomach wrenching growls, add another level of mystique to an already beguiling concept.
The production has a dreamlike, sombre quality to it. It is very much a character in the formation of this EP, but one that contributes positively to the quality of the outcome. That it occasionally feels slightly derivative should not diminish from the overall success of its application.
Obviously it is very early days for The Voynich Code, but with these 6 tracks they have crafted an exquisite, brutally beautiful and beautifully brutal calling card. They seem to work appreciably well together as a band, pushing and pulling the right ropes at the apposite time to illicit that much needed flush of dark reality in the mind of the listener.
Without ever over-complicating the issue they apply devilishly technical flourishes which lift their fashion-forward brand of Deathcore away from the bland and commonplace into the realm of vibrant, exciting, mosh-worthy metal.
It may on occasions sound a little too like several more established bands, but it is done with such skill and ownership of the material that I am filled with excitement at the prospect of more music from this bunch of young Portuguese upstarts.
– John Whitmore