MMXV by The Survival Code – Album Review
London based rockers The Survival Code are the latest Irish band to bravely venture into the business with their debut album, MMXV. Blending a standard rock sound with nu-metal and prog tones, the eleven track album is a well crafted stadium sounding piece of work, with all the production bells and whistles to boot.
The tentative airy guitar of ‘Burning’ opens the album, building to an explosively hypnotic chorus, with fuzzy guitars, crashing drums, and meandering lead guitar lines. The spacey riffs and instrumental parts of the tune excel, and establish a great mix of hard rock and that Je ne sais quoi wall of sound done so well by the likes of The Deftones in the past. ‘Never Let Go’ sounds more conventional with its epic sounding chorus harmonies and testosterone filled riffs, and impresses with some high register vocals.
It quickly becomes apparent that the more prog and garage sounding tunes are far superior to the straight up rock ones. ‘Living A Lie’ stands out due to its haunting, jangly intro and breakdown sections, and ‘This Feeling’ features unconventional changes in dynamic and some very tasteful strings instrumentation. Numbers like ‘Gave It All’ or ‘The Change’ seem a tad predictable in comparison. By no means are these tunes bad, in fact, the choruses of both are rather catchy and constructed with utmost savvy. The latter boasts some headbang worthy riffing, and the vocals are raw as ever, yet they just don’t achieve that wow factor we want.
‘Catalyst’ picks things up with its sharp metal approach and gets you with some brutal sounding riffs before blowing you away with the filthy chorus. Sounding more invigorated now, a blistering guitar solo and a big drum finish draw the tune to a close. ‘Ragin’ only continues the momentum with its tense chorus and delightful loud/quiet dynamic shifts. There is a feeling that these last few tracks pack just a bit more attitude and rawness than a few of the mid album tracks, and the closer of ‘Prisoner’ only proves this. Driven by some evil sounding bass riffs, the band grow an extra pair of balls for this penultimate track, showcasing screaming guitar harmonies and some rather powerful screaming from the frontman. Fading out, the bar is left significantly higher than we may have expected a few tracks ago.
It’s always a pleasure to discover a new band, think you have them figured out and then be proven wrong several times over a few tracks. Drawing on stadium rock, metal, prog, and even dream pop at times, The Survival Code have slapped boundaries in the face. While sounding predictable at times, their unique flair shines though, and does more than enough to redeem the album. We only hope they embrace all these different influences even more in the future, and continue to make rock music of such a delightfully unique calibre.
Check out MMXV on Spotify here.
Review by Finn O’Reilly