New Jersey dark prog outfit BINARY CODE are back after a short layoff following 2010's "Priest" EP and the "Suspension of Disbelief" album a year prior. Oded Weinstock assumes this mike this time, bringing harsh and dignified vocal dynamics to the band, which thickens up and reconnoiters their potential, even if dallying their way through a mostly aimless course.
Guitarist Jesse Zuretti explains the new album "Moonsblood" was "written sporadically throughout the course of some of the hardest times I've personally had to endure, but also some of the most enlightening and positive moments of my life. The instrumentation perfectly conveys many of the instances of that period and instantly brings me back to those moments". One can appreciate where Zuretti's coming from, even if repetition and caution are his band's biggest obstacles on "Moonsblood".
The slithery "Immersion" opens the album with Sean Vizcaino's vigilant tempo dropped with painstaking slowness and incremental bass drum blasts. Jesse Zuretti, PJ Spilletti and Connor Appleton sieve equally measured riffs, segmenting them as opposed to outright cutting them. There's an understated tension to "Immersion" that builds as Oded Weinstock assertively swoons and later barks overtop. It's a song that suggests a big payout and doesn't so much disburse as leaves things in stasis as the following song "Trees 100ft Underwater" grabs a hold of its predecessor's tendrils. BINARY CODE continues to avoid jacking their music to its fullest capacity, even as Oded Weinstock rages his way through this one and "Dark Meditations" thereafter. "Dark Meditations" dwells inside its cavernous bass echoes and whispery guitar lines while the rhythm hardly changes course, save for the agitated choruses which are smothered by Weinstock's bellowing.
As with many gloomy progressive metal acts, the dichotomy of ugliness and subtle beauty becomes the leitmotif. The title track being as close to accessible as BINARY CODE is likely to get, there's a whiff of FEAR FACTORY at work here (minus Raymond Herrera's concussive carpeting) with Oded Weinstock wailing in the key of Burton C. Bell. The same applies to "Knell", which doesn't move any quicker than the rest of the album (one annoyingly sticking to a primary rhythm outside of the pummeling pickups on "Push" and "707"), though Weinstock growls more than sings clean. In the case of "Knell", however, the laborious chords move toward a shimmering outcry of guitars and a pirouetting keyboard denouement.
In other words, BINARY CODE wrings from FEAR FACTORY only what works for them and they veer through their own explorative, often daunting progressions without getting too close the edge. Anticipation versus consummation—albeit, to the plus, BINARY CODE tactfully embraces brevity instead of gluttony. The two-minute "Cetacean" being just one moment where BINARY CODE leaves their audience hanging, this album has its strengths, but expect to feel very little payoff from "Moonsblood", minus the melodic (and thankfully conclusive) outro to "707". Saving their fullest chops for the end, "Unexist" still feels like wandering, and if there's anything getting in BINARY CODE's way, it's this wilderness-lost excavation leaving scant hope of reaching a point of destination.