“Re-forged and re-fired”, 2017 sees the return of the much vaunted ‘the infinite growth paradigm vs finite resources’ EP from Codex Alimentarius, the intensely driven and impressively original progressive metal band. Hailing from the UK’s South West, the band have developed a loyal following in the comparatively short space of time since their formation in 2009 and a big part of that success lies in the quality of their songs, and so returning to the EP that launched them upon an unsuspecting world is a smart move. Featuring six tracks and running at just shy of half an hour, ‘The infinite growth paradigm vs finite resources Mk II’ (yep, it just trips off the tongue), is a blistering journey into the heart of the Codex Alimentarius sound and it will certainly leave listeners wanting much more from this ambitious band.
Opening with the monstrous ‘Baptised’, Codex immediately set out their stall as a band with their eyes already fixed on bigger things. Everything from the crystal-clear production to the Herculean riffs is huge, with Frank Dennis laying down a rhythmic barrage that shakes the earth for miles around. Fiercely driven and yet with a subtle melodicism that keeps things memorable, ‘Baptised’ draws on myriad influences from Lamb of God to Dream Theatre and deftly manoeuvres between outright aggression and more complex passages where guitars neatly intertwine and the otherwise relentless pulse of the music is allowed to ebb away for a moment of blissful respite. It’s a hugely impressive opening track and in just six minutes Codex Alimentarius easily win over the undecided with their intricately crafted music. Taking no prisoners, ‘Collapse’ initially draws on death and progressive tropes only for the band to wrongfoot the listener completely and delve into a more earthen, folk-infused metal on a chorus that will have you howling for more mead. If it all sounds somewhat incongruous, remarkably it isn’t, and Codex have done a remarkable job of stitching their influences together in a coherent fashion that will have you too busy head banging to notice the shifts in style and mood. Third track ‘Goodslaves’ kicks off with a stair-stepping riff backed by ethereal synth, pulling the listener in to the band’s own dark world before things take a deathly turn with harrowing screams and lightning speed riffs tearing across the landscape. Possibly the EP highlight for me, ‘No return’ is a remarkable piece of song-writing that flows so effortlessly across multiple genres that it’s truly neo-classical in nature. It’s yet further evidence of the remarkable skill that lies at the heart of the band’s success and if you listen to just one track of this mind-blowing EP, make sure it’s this one. With its synth choirs, tempo shifts and epic solos, the band have taken Beethoven’s rush-inducing ninth symphony as a template and recast it as a monumental metal mini-symphony. After such a track, ‘symbiosis’ has a tough act to follow and so the band sensibly don’t try to compete, slowing the pace a touch and delivering a cracking chorus and even a Metallica-esque breakdown to keep the audience very much hooked. The EP concludes with ‘Arise’ and it says much of the levels of complexity that exhaustion is close by this point. With dizzying guitar runs kicking the track off, it’s clear that Stan Kemble, Tim Wright and Elliott Alderman are keen to mark their presence once and for all. However, despite the dense opening, it’s a surprisingly stately track that emerges to bring the EP to a suitably epic conclusion leaving the audience somewhat in awe at what has transpired.
Original, devilishly talented (to the point you half expect to find the band have a deal somewhere inked in blood), and fiercely driven, you can expect to hear a lot more from Codex Alimentarius in the wake of this astonishing EP. All six tracks demonstrate a band straining at the leash of their abilities, always pushing themselves harder and further in pursuit of a sound they can truly call their own. Memorable moments abound, but at the EP’s heart lies the stunning ‘no return’, a piece of song-writing that challenges even Devin Townsend’s recent output. Further evidence, as if any were needed, that the UK underground is teeming with talent, ‘The infinite growth paradigm vs finite resources Mk II’ is a mini-masterpiece and presages great things to come. 9