Codeseven – Dancing Echoes/Dead Sounds

Codeseven
Dancing Echoes/Dead Sounds

Winston-Salem-based Codeseven is a band that has undergone its fair share of musical metamorphoses since its inception nearly a decade ago. Once known for being a hard-charging metallic screamo unit that married punishing hardcore aggression with a soaring melodic sensibility, Codeseven decided to break the mold with its 2002 release, The Rescue, which saw the group eschewing much of its blistering assault for a far more eclectic and experimental sound. But still the transformation wasn’t complete. For their latest record – and their first for Equal Vision – the band members have delved even deeper into their experimental interests, incorporating more ambient noise, atmospheric synth, and electronica in an attempt to pursue a darker, more ambitious vision.

So how does Codeseven succeed? Well, to put it mildly, let’s say the results are mixed at best. Gone is the driving urgency that marked the earlier efforts, exchanged for a far more controlled and calculated vibe that, while not quite sounding forced, does manage to come off as decidedly tame and manufactured. The thing about it is that the group seems to have really stumbled across something with the potential to stand out above the usual hordes of cut-and-paste emo imitators. Indeed, on Dancing Echoes/Dead Sounds, Codeseven reaches for a far more cerebral, sophisticated, and textured sound, a kind of emo-dreampop-rock hybrid fueled by ringing guitars, swirling synth, and etheral melodies.

The problem is that the individual parts rarely mesh together to form a whole. Vocalist Jeff Jenkins especially doesn’t seem to fit here, his voice neither powerful nor distinctive enough to cut through the band’s densely layered sound. In fact, by eliminating much of their blistering, distortion-laced thrust, the members of Codeseven have relegated themselves to a more singular dynamic and have rubbed much of the edge off of their music. Songs like “La Mémoire Reincarneé,” “Pathetic Justice,” and “Roped and Tied” are such sappy, melodramatic affairs that they fall dangerously close to the dreaded ‘adult-contemporary’ category occupied by the likes of Jon Mayer and Counting Crows.

But despite Codeseven’s ‘easy listening’ inclinations, there are some strong flashes of inspiration here. “Alt. Wav,” for instance, blends dark, goth-inflected new-wave with riveting ambient rock and a steadfast backbeat. The hypnotic “The Devil’s Interval” is another winner, which finds the band scaling towards majestic heights with spiraling, effects-drenched rhythms and spine-tingling melodies. Still, a few bursts of stellar songwriting, no matter how transient, is not enough to redeem the rest of these lackluster proceedings.