With their debut EP ‘Ignotum’, Portugal’s The Voynich Code have crafted a release that’s technically immense that whilst impressive, suffers from something of a lack of substance when you scratch beneath the surface. There’s no doubting TVC‘s chops; brutal riff follows brutal riff, they shift time signatures and rhythms on a dime, and they can shred with the best of them. They’re certainly a talented bunch of guys.
On first listen, ‘Antithesis’ grabs the listener by the balls and doesn’t let go. The atmospheric keyboard intro draws you in before the track kicks in with the force of a stream train. The guitars, vocals and drumming are powerful and the sound is heavy as hell.
What at first draws you in goes on to undo ‘Ignotum’, however. The EP suffers from a lack of true variety and dynamic range. Whilst ‘The Others’ brings a slightly different energy, and ‘MS408’ provides a somewhat obligatory-feeling atmospheric track. It doesn’t take long before you start to get the feeling that you’ve already heard this part elsewhere.
Whilst every song is jam-packed with many headbang-able riffs, it’s difficult to really pick anything truly ear-catching out. The staccato, percussive Born Of Osiris-style keyboard parts are somewhat overused and, whilst Nelson Rebero‘s vocals are crushingly heavy, they feel somewhat detached from the technicality going on behind them.
The arrangement and production aren’t particularly complementary. The sound is precise, slick and massive; the guitars and drums are particularly constantly huge. It’s heavy as hell, but there’s no space to allow the tracks to breathe and flow. During some of the busier moments, the mix fights against itself itself badly with riffing, soloing, keyboards and vocals all clambering across each other vying for prominence. It becomes quite a challenging listen, unfortunately for the wrong reasons.
Whilst this is by no means a bad debut and there’s certainly something for fans of the genre to enjoy here, The Voynich Code haven’t yet managed to leverage their considerable technical prowess with great songwriting in the way that the likes of Fallujah or Periphery have shown the possibilities of in recent years.
Written by Sean Richardson