ALBUM REVIEW: The Voynich Code – Aqua Vitae
Portuguese outfit The Voynich Code have been prowling the deathcore scene with their tech/prog infused recipe for filth ridden riffs for a while now, gaining highlights such as performing at UK Tech Fest in 2015. Now, they finally present their highly anticipated debut record Aqua Vitae.
The band present quite an unassuming and clean cover art for an album of such sonic ruthlessness, though this comes off less clever and slightly more generic and lacklustre in terms of presentation presentation. It would be nice to see something a little more imaginative as artwork for a band who’s musical soundscapes detail limitless borders of creative imagery. The clean first impression is continued further with an instrumental intro, contrasting entirely to the records lifespan. A contrast like this can be effective, although the intrigue and power is lost within transition to the first proper song, Aurum. This is truly where the album begins, thundering guitar tones and even backing string sections to complete an inescapably massive sound.
Delusion holds a more coherent fluidity within the melody endeavour than what has been presented prior, with the strings seemingly bringing more organisation to the track. Born to Suffer is easily the best track on the album, showcasing a true extent of the power the band can really bring. The song features a strong sense of melody within multiple instruments embedded within an almost Tony Danza-like chaotic coating. The strings also prove to be more prominent across these tracks, becoming impeccable backing tools for pushing through a melodic taste through a sea of brutally composed low tune guitar riffs. A strong sense of instrumentation is undeniably showcased here, and stops the entire composition decomposing into a mire of lack of imagination and ‘heavy’ restrictions.
What lets the album down are the various points it falls prey to this very thing, however. The ease of degenerating into mindless low strung chugging with no thought to apparent reason or destination becomes all too real for a significant proportion of the whole record. Tracks such as King For a Day and Flight 19 fail to bring out any difference in pace or emotion from the album, feeling awfully confined to a singular track of motion. The arrangement becomes lost to the point of repetition and without the grab of stand out riffs or melodies to launch the songs from hover stance to fully fledged flight.
Vocalist Nelson Rebelo is truly a perfect messenger for what the band is trying to do with this album, utilising numerous techniques with a downright menacing voice which especially well with a variety of guest musicians featuring on the album, most notably and best of which from Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red fame. Combined with the highly aggressive production and guitar tone, the album is truly more than perfectly equipped to deliver crushing results. This is what the album has no quarrel with. However, what it does struggle with too much is not becoming too familiar, variation a seldom feature. Ultimately, this stops Aqua Vitae in its tracks, disabling its ability to truly take off as a brilliant piece of progressively infused deathcore. Although, the pieces are certainly set for The Voynich Code to reach heights once their creative restrictions have been cast aside. To see the band pull through with their strong points and deliver a sound no other band in the genre are giving out would be a delight to experience. This time around, The Voynich Code fall short of unique and their debut may well be forgotten by the end of 2017.
Standout Tracks: Born To Suffer, Delusion
For Fans Of: Thy Art is Murder, Veil of Maya
Written by: Andrew Macdonald