The Voynich Code

Unique Leader Records? Check.

Caelen Stokkermans cover art? Check.

Blackened Technical deathcore? Check.

Cool band moniker? Check.

Christian Donaldson (Cryptopsy) mix/master? Check

Album title I can identify with? Check.

Yeah, I’m definitely reviewing and digging this.

Portugal’s The Voynich Code is named after the Voynich Manuscript, a mysterious 15th-century codex full of images and writings that have yet to be fully decoded (I highly recommend you click the Wikipedia link above and read about it).

But more importantly, they play my favorite form of metal right now, and Insomnia is their second album, and as far as the genre goes, it’s a pretty solid entry that’s along the lines of quality as countrymate’s Downfall of Mankind and their debut Vile Birth from 2022.

Fans of symphonic/blackened deathcore (I’m not sure of the difference at this point), should already be purchasing this album, as I did as soon as I heard the first single “The Last Grain” (a bonus track on the CD version od the album). It’s got all the standard genre tropes, all done pretty solidly; technical blasts, breakdowns, orchestration, dual vocals, and like label mates Carrion Vael, a bit more of a metalcore or a The Black Dahlia Murder vibe to the guitar tone and slicing, speedier melodic riffs (i.e. “A Flicker of Life”).

Not groundbreaking by any means, but certainly very enjoyable. The orchestration (which appears to be much improved and increased since the 2017 debut album Aqua Vitae) has a nice blackened atmosphere, not super overbearing, bombastic, or dramatic, but a nice undercurrent to the leads and riffs (i.e. “Homecoming”, “Insomnia”- an instrumental track), which are a solid balance of blasts and breakdowns, though certainly, these guys are not as breakdown-obsessed as some of their peers.

All 12 tracks (including two bonus tracks), deliver the goods, and though not quite as bludgeoning as Downfall of Mankind, deliver a few standout tracks, especially in the album’s midsection and later stages with “Hell’s Black Breath”, arguably the album’s fiercest track, “The Art of War”, “A Dying Age” and “A Letter to my Future Self”.

Unique Leader has taken a few knocks for being a deathcore label of late (the recent Kraanium album should alleviate those concerns), but when they are releasing quality albums in the genre from the likes of these guys as well as Crown Magnetar, Worm Shepherd, Osiah, Bonecarver, and A Wake in Providence, they can be as deathcore a they want.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 5th, 2023


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