A peaceful, almost comforting wave of sounds wash over the listener, like the triumphant denouement of an 80’s Sci-Fi movie. Oxygen restored to Mars in Total Recall or the titular villain of The Terminator ironically bested by similarly cold, unfeeling machinery. The calm before the storm, a false sense of security. As the hackles raise on the bassline, the beat rises dramatically and seemingly uncontrollably and a banshee’s tortured wail awakens over the chaos, there is no safe haven. Ear drums shatter alongside misconceptions. Sara Taylor and Ryan George are LA’s Youth Code, and they’re here to completely redefine everything you thought aggressive music could be.
If you had to put a label on Youth Code’s aural masochism, most would choose industrial, and their methods are truly industrial, perhaps more industrial than industrial, electing to record harsh, everyday real world sounds rather than relying on purely synthesized elements, and the fruits of their labor hit hard, like having your head slammed into the curb and then hit with a pipe hard. This is no mere disjointed sound collage though, and that’s where the connections to punk and metal come in. A veteran of the LA hardcore scene, George knows his way around a riff and a bassline and how he layers his collected samples over thrashing, pounding, plodding beats is almost melodic in a way, as catchy as it is crushing. A beautifully unsettling attack reverent of drum machine powered hardcore institution Agorophobic Nosebleed’s classic output.
A noted black metal fan, Taylor’s dry throated sandpaper rasp could stand tall amongst names like Dead, Abbath, Satyr and Nergal if she’d chosen to stick with the leather and chains set, but her feral delivery across George’s concrete and steel nightmarescapes give the heart stopping salvos and even fiercer purpose, lyrics not embodying the traditional religious trappings of a corpse painted apocalypse but a technological and socio-political one brought forth by humanity’s own lack of compassion for itself. It’s powerful stuff just read aloud but absolutely lethal in the rocket propelled form that Youth Code unleash it, a seemingly ramshackle engine of destruction upon first listen but deathly precise once the cacophony worms its way into your brain.
I first encountered Youth Code opening for Skinny Puppy a few years back, and while I was never the biggest Industrial guy, I was looking forward to the show, though I didn’t expect to discover one of my new favorite bands among the openers. I was very happy to be wrong that night, and I’m even happier now that Youth Code have produced a singular recorded statement that deeply personifies the grandiose vision of their unique and intense sonic sensibility. The blastbeat and speed picking crowd should take notice, the extreme metal record of the year may have arrived, and it was made by one girl, one guy and a truckload of old school sequencers and synthesizers.