CODEX LEICESTER – A Mad Man’s Lullaby EP

Without any kind of pre-amble, Codex Leicester use ‘Strong Like Bull’ to begin their debut EP at maximum ferocity.  A mix of distorted rhythms and jangling Wedding Present-esque guitars lay down a great foundation while gang vocals shout a simple refrain before everything collides in a colossal wall of sound.  And then, it stops suddenly, having shaken the listener.  As the musical equivalent of entering a meeting unannounced and then shouting repeatedly before making a swift exit, this track is a resounding success – assuming, that is, Codex Leicester were looking to introduce themselves in a way which makes a startling impression.   It may have the subtlety of a hammer, but ‘Strong Like Bull’ sets the tone for this six track release which mixes the extreme end of indie rock with a healthy dose of fuzzy post-hardcore.

The second number, ‘Hey Hey Hot Legs’ continues in a similar vein, although a moment of solo vocal allows a few more (ultimately necessary) melodies shining though.  As before, any melodies at all are heavily distorted and coupled with off-kilter rhythms.  Throughout the track, the barrage of distorted guitars provides metallic wall of sound (something which, surely, sounds even huger in the live setting).  Once again, Codex Leicester are far more concerned with rhythms and layers than hooks or accessibility, but musically, by the end of track there’s certainly no arguing with them.  Provided you can get your head around the general volume combined with incoherency, these guys sound like they mean business.   ‘Van Sant’ and ‘Oh Wichita’ collectively offer another four minutes of swaggering distortion, adding nothing particularly new to the band’s musical palette, though beneath the general noise and chaos, the drums can occasionally be relied upon to do something interesting.

Even less subtle, ‘Concrete Stetson’ arrives with a huge riff combined with screaming. Underneath the screaming, Kris Tearse’s drumming offers a few more great flourishes, but as before, the almost unrelenting wall of guitars makes almost everything else seem inconsequential.   Offering a rare glimpse into something far more structured, ‘SS Supersleeper’ opens with clean guitar work augmented by a great bassline.   The rattling bass is then topped by droning keyboards (thickening Codex’s sound even more), crashing drums and a heady combination of whispered and shouted voices.  Somewhere between the two extremes lays brief bursts of solid indie rock fare.  The greater exposure towards light and shade is a plus point during this number, showing Codex as having a grater musical range than first hearing may suggest.  As before, you won’t find many hooks, but that’s not really what these guys are about.   ‘SS Supersleeper’ is the EP’s best track hands down, proving the old theory that sometimes less is more.

Codex Leicester are solid musicians and there’s no doubt that with regard to musical backdrops, this unsubtle sound really works for them. Pulling together their barrage of careening noise, listeners may perhaps hear Bring Me The Horizon, with traces of Fugazi, Helmet, Quicksand and more besides, although none of the band’s influences ever seem glaringly obvious.  Within this release, you’ll find some great sounds, bolstered by a great production and a few interesting musical embellishments.  As a whole, however, this is a band who don’t seem to be looking for any kind of mass acceptance; some more sensitive listeners may find Codex Leicester’s grinding and crashing approach is best experienced in short bursts.  It may take time to fully get to grips with ‘A Madman’s Lullaby’, but for some, it could be listening time well spent.

April/May 2012