A pleasant surprise

You can always rely on Equal Vision to come up with the goods when it comes to the more lively side of rock music, with an enviable history that includes releases from the likes of Converge, Fear Before The March Of Flames and Bane to name but a few. Hailing from the suitably spooky sounding Winston-Salem in North Carolina, Codeseven was formed by 3 brothers and a couple of their close friends back in 1995. One of their previous releases; the 'Division Of Labour' EP, was produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, so everything looks like it's in place for another storming hardcore onslaught. I couldn't be more wrong.

You see, like so many bands that have been around so long, Codeseven grew tired of what can be a very restrictive genre, finding that endlessly thrashing the hell out of their instruments had lost it's appeal and yearned for something that would allow them to flex their creative muscles. The tides turned with the release of 'The Rescue' (what would prove to be their last record with The Music Cartel), as they ditched the aggression in favour of a more open and experimental perspective. They unsurprisingly lost a large chunk of their original fan base as a result of such a brave polar switch, but they haven't looked back since.

This really is an against-type release for Equal Vision. The breezy 'All The Best Dreams' sounds like Travis for the first 2 minutes, Biffy Clyro for the last 2, whereas the driving piano-led 'Pathetic Justice' is pure Coldplay at their very best. Listed influences that include Bjork and Pink Floyd should give you some idea what's going on here, with Codeseven showing an almost Radiohead-esque confidence when switching between styles and sounds. The pulsating 'Quails Dream' rumbles and swells; a hallucinatory (and not particularly well suited, it has to be said) introduction to the sunnier 'Roped And Tied'. On reflection, 'Dancing Echoes/Dead Sounds' actually sounds like the reincarnation of avant-garde Brit-rockers My Vitriol, particularly in the excellent 'Nasty Little Revolution'.

Whilst it's fair to say that this couldn't be further from what I was expecting, it's sometimes nice to be taken by surprise; especially when it's in the form of such an adventurous and accomplished album. It loses it's way a little towards the end, struggling to hold the listeners interest amidst a storm of ideas – but despite this 'Dancing Echoes/Dead Sounds' is an ultimately successful album, and provides a welcome break from the norm.