Not startling but certainly striking and a captivating torrent of imaginative and enticing ideation, Code:End is a rich and creative persuasion which ensures its creators close attention within the black metal scene. The second album from Austrian metallers Groteskh is an intimidatingly immersive and malevolently seductive offering, one of persistently intensive craft and enjoyment but with a dramatic and inventive adventure pushing band and release well away from the crowd. Released via Austrian label Cursed Records, the album is a wake-up call to a broader audience and attention with Groteskh proving themselves as a potent emerging force.
Coming out of Sankt Veit an der Glan, a small town within the Austrian state of Carinthia, Groteskh was formed by vocalist/guitarist Malthus Holytoxicomaniac (ex-Hellsaw) and guitarist Goreman (ex-Obscure) in 2010. Within the band’s first year the line-up was joined by bassist Necrosodomizer (Vomition) and in 2012 drummer T. Martyr (Irdorath). The following year the recording and release of debut album Unconsciousness drew well-received responses and acclaimed interest, its success followed by the addition of guitarist Isiul (ex-Hellsaw) and an European tour with Demonical, as well as numerous show and festival appearances. It is fair to say the band’s stature and recognition has grown which every passing year, 2014 being an eventful one for Groteskh with Necrosodomizer leaving the band to be replaced by Mike Hell (Sakrileg /Disastrous Murmur) before the recording of their sophomore full-length. Now unleashed and increasingly impressing with every listen, expectations are that Code:End will take spotlights and awareness to new demanding levels whilst musically the album suggests the quintet has the presence to be a potent name within black metal.
The sonically irritated and intriguing lure of Mystery Orbs is the first rapacious persuasion to the album, the opener an increasingly volatile maelstrom of riffs and melodic toxicity governed by the intimidating vocal scowls of Malthus. Equally though, there is a composure within the song which allows moments of tantalising beauty and calm to entangle with the ravenous black hearted hostility and erosive intensity. It is a seriously magnetic start to the album, guitars like rancor soaked troubadours in the design of the song and rhythms a barbarous framing to an impending apocalypse.
Delusions Of Immortality follows and quickly reveals itself a unique character to its predecessor, clean prowling vocals matched in tone and intent by spicy grooves and menacing rhythms. As in the first song though, unpredictability is prominent bait and exploited by the open craft and imagination of band members and the song’s own dark almost psychotic intent. Tagged as black metal, and rightly so, there is also as shown by the opening pair of songs, a wealth of additional flavours to the Groteskh sound, a progressive/doom exploration creeping across this track alone.
Next the imposing climate and ferocity of Displaced Axis transfixes ears and thoughts, its initial clearer air soon a muggy tempest of intensity and uncompromising emotion but still open to scythes of sonic magnetism and warped melodic enterprise. It keeps the impressive start to the album on a lofty plateau, pushing it higher with its ferociously invigorating second half before a calm of sorts comes with Posthuman. Expected turbulence is never far from the surface of the song though, throughout creating fierce whirlpools of rabid discontent which further ignites the relentless technical and provocative landscape sculpted and twisted across the absorbing encounter.
Both Doomdevil and Nothing Exists entwine ears in their own involved and insidious trespasses, the first a senses winding seducing of rock ‘n’ roll grooves bound in blackened voracity and its successor a proposition which is part savage beast, part infectious revelry, and all irresistible enthralment. As with all tracks, every listen reveals new nuances and dark resourceful corners, increasing persuasion and enjoyment a welcome result but fair to say the second of these two is an instantly inescapable thrill; much as the bestial might of Oblivion Of Being straight after. At times there is a similarity between tracks but again with continual focus an unveiling of individual creativity helps every song develops its own distinct character, this song a prime and fascinating example.
The album’s title track lays down another peak to the album with its almost revengeful ambience and prowl of sound whilst Illumination, from a deliciously grizzly bass opening courted by solidly jabbing beats, expands into a cancerous and venomously addictive incitement on body and imagination. Both songs come equipped with toxic grooves and contagious hooks within waves of creative and emotional enmity.
Moral Pessimism is the same, a tsunami of bad blood and ill-willed grudges skilfully crafted and delivered, if without the same spark of certainly the previous pair of tracks. Nevertheless it has the listener ensnared before the powerful beauty of Abandoned Mines closes things out with its melodic romance bred from superb guitar craft and expression. The instrumental is bewitching, a tantalising epilogue and temper to the creative malignancy before, and further evidence of the depths of Groteskh’s invention and imagination.
Code:End is maybe not the release to thrust Groteskh to the forefront of black metal, though it has the potential, but it is a notable and highly pleasing marker in the band’s continuing ascent to that destination. Both are proposals genre fans should definitely be checking out.
Code:End is out now via Cursed Records digitally and on CD @ https://cursedrecords.bandcamp.com/album/code-end