New Jersey native, Nick Shellenberger, is the type of artist the Montreal Jazz festival like to host. Like Fantomas and Voivod before him, his Underer project is extreme metal for art school experimentalists, grindcore enthusiasts and avant-garde wanderers. In other words, the kind of music we love here at Scream Blast Repeat when looking for something sophisticated and neurotic.
From the opening china splashes of ‘01:19’, The Code sets out its stall as a tumultuous descent into cabin fever and paranoia, like watching English actor, Stephen Graham, at his most unhinged. (Think This is England or even his portrayal of Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire.) Drums clatter with minimalist fury and maximalist destruction, underpinning a chaotic maelstrom of deep bass incursions and post-metal guitars. Effervescent dynamics threaten to spill over into outright carnage between howling screams and spasmodic slabs of hardcore noise terror. Fans of Dillinger Escape Plan’s seminal 2007 album, Ire Works, will recognise a kinship on ‘Lady’, and Mr Bungle aficionados have plenty of reasons to be excited by ‘Steven’. The latter is a composition that keeps you guessing with an eerie percussion and mathcore guitar extremes until you abandon all hope of normality.
At 25-minutes and seven tracks in length, The Code is best treated as one composition switching between different moods but always anchored in the realm of demented rage. Imagine the Michael Douglas character in Falling Down as the soul of the music and Shellenberger as the master creator who retreats into the background like the anti-hero in a Joseph Conrad novel. Whether it’s the deliberate attempt to play out of key (Nirvana’s ‘Milk it’ is a good reference point) or the Neurosis head-crusher moments that punctuate this record, you’ll never feel at ease, nor should you want to be. Some songs are less than a minute, others seven minutes in length. The titles are irrelevant. Simply press play and prepare for a bludgeoning.
The heavy use of crash cymbals and chaotic interplay between guitars and snares on last track, ‘Miniature Jimmon’, is a fitting way to end an intellectual exercise in white collar brutality. The Code is how you unleash your inner demons and maintain the façade of contentment. Use this as your cathartic release next time the stupidities of bureaucratic life overwhelm you. It might save the figure of authority on the street from the ire of your swinging briefcase.
Release Date: 19/06/2020
Record Label: Nefarious Industries
Standout tracks: Lady, Steven, Miniature Jimmon
Suggested Further Listening: Dillinger Escape Plan – Ire Works (2007), Fantomas – Fantomas (1999), Genghis Tron – Board Up The House (2008)