Last week we put up a brief, rushed post about the one-day-only streaming of The Binary Code‘s December 15 full-length release on MetalSucks.net — brief and rushed because we wanted to give our readers the chance to listen to Suspension of Disbelief before the stream evaporated into the ether. But now it’s time to explain why we thought that alert was worth doing. And tomorrow, in Part 2, we’ll also share with you our e-mail interview with The Binary Code‘s guitarist/songwriter Jesper Zuretti. Trust me, it’s worth coming back here to read that.
First, the explanation of why we care about this band. In three words: shitloads of talent. At all the levels that count. Prodigious technical instrumentation; complex, beautifully structured song-writing; the ability to dive deeply into the technical/progressive side of death metal while at the same time incorporating compulsive grooves and elements of jazz; an abundantly evident creative intelligence that promises future growth. All that and more make Suspension of Disbelief a very impressive full-length debut and The Binary Code a band worth watching closely.
As a reader, I usually lose patience with album reviewers who feel compelled to offer observations about every last track on an album. But there’s so much going on in Suspension of Disbelief that I don’t know how else to fucking do it. So, here goes:
The album begins with a powerful, genre-defying one-two punch. “Suspension of Disbelief (Part I)” is a furious, pummeling, riffage-and-blast-beat-filled onslaught that showcases the band’s technical talent. And then without warning, the music shifts gears into “Suspension of Disbelief (Part II)” — a prog-metal influenced, largely instrumental track that begins and ends with down-tempo atmospheric soloing with high-intensity riffage packed in between. “Mechanical Seas” is tech-death with a groove, but punctuated with melodic synth interludes. “Ghost Planet” is more blast-furnace death metal, featuring a mix of deep gutterals, high-pitched shrieking, and chants; screaming guitar interludes; and some awesome syncopated interplay on the low end between bass and skins. And then there’s a “what the hell?” moment: The closest label I can affix to “Void I” is metal-infused progressive jazz.
Following a brief musical interlude, the band then launches into “The Story,” another genre-bending, technically complex piece with multiple tempo changes, jazzy interludes, and even more vocal variation (including flashes of clean singing). Following another brief instrumental interlude, the band explores the “Human Condition” — more unexpected tempo changes, brutal vocals, crashing riffs and machine-gun bass-and-drum work alternating with more episodes of progressive jazz. “Awaiting Necropolis” is another foray into tech-death territory with probably the most head-bangable rhythms on the album. And then, to finish off this mind-blowing collection we come to “Void II,” another melodic, jazz-influenced number.
There are other bands on the scene that self-consciously force together an eclectic blend of technical styles in what can only be described as pretentious showing off. What saves The Binary Code from that abyss is a truly remarkable level of technical skill coupled with a superior approach to song-writing that somehow makes all this craziness fit together in a satisfying whole.
Guitarist and principal song-writer Jesse “Jesper” Zuretti was once asked which bands he would like to tour with, and he named Sikth, Textures, Scarve, A Life Once Lost, Meshuggah, Extol, Cult of Luna, Cave In, He is Legend, Porcupine Tree, Portal, Soreption, Katatonia, Converge, Lewd Acts, the End, the Ocean, Decapitated. Pretty cool list, huh? I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have picked out those particular bands as influences on Suspension just from listening to the album, but having read the list, I can hear something of almost all those bands in the mix — hard to imagine, but check it out for yourself. (MetalSucks has ended the free streaming of the entire CD, but the album is available for download at the bargain price of $5 at this location.)
What’s even more wild is that Suspension of Disbelief was recorded more than a year ago, in November 2008, and Jesper tells NCS that the band’s sound has continued to evolve since then (some details about that tomorrow).
Amazingly, The Binary Code is still unsigned, but I have a feeling that state of affairs won’t last much longer.
The Binary Code will be touring with French metallers Hypno5e and the awesome Revocation on the MetalSucks-sponsored “Metal As Art” tour, which kicks off in NYC on January 6. This is going to be a kick-ass show. I haven’t yet checked out Hypno5e, but Revocation’s 2009 release is just amazing, and the chance to see them and The Binary Code on the same bill isn’t an opportunity to be lost. Jesper also tells us that the band will feature a second guitarist on the tour, Todd Stern from the band Abacinate. Can’t imagine what this band will sound like with a two-guitar attack, but we’re damned sure looking forward to finding out.
We’ll be there in force with this tour hits Seattle in January, and we’ve got the full list of dates and places below. But first, check out the band performing two songs live in NYC last month.
Here’s the full list of dates/places for the Metal As Art tour:
January 6 Brooklyn, NY Knitting Factory
January 7 Allentown, PA Crocodile Rock
January 8 Buffalo, NY Broadway Joe’s
January 9 Akron, OH Annabell’s Bar and Lounge – FREE
January 10 Mt. Clemons, MI Hayloft
January 11 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle – FREE
January 12 St. Louis, MO Fubar (w/ LYE BY MISTAKE)
January 13 Fayetteville, AR George’s Majestic Lounge
January 14 Oklahoma City, OK Conservatory
January 15 Dallas, TX The Lounge on Elm
January 16 San Antonio, TX Zombies
January 17 Austin, TX Red 7
January 18 Amarillo, TX War Legion
January 19 Gallup, NM Juggernaut
January 20 TBA
January 21 Los Angeles, CA Ultraviolet
January 22 Ramona, CA Ramona Mainstage
January 23 Santa Cruz, CA The Parish
January 24 Sparks, NV New Oasis
January 25 Portland, OR Ash Street Saloon
January 26 Seattle, WA Studio Seven
January 27 Spokane, WA The Cretin Hop
January 28 Boise, ID Gusto’s Bar
January 29 Salt Lake City, UT The Outer Rim
January 30 Denver, CO Old Curtis Street Bar
January 31 Lawrence, KS Replay Lounge
February 1 Des Moines, IA Vaudeville Mews
February 2 Kansas City, MO Riot Room
February 3 Nashville, TN The Muse
February 4 Cincinnati, OH Dirty Jacks
February 5 Baltimore, MD Sidebar
February 6 Trenton, NJ The Championship