Youth Code - Youth Code

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  • Heavily previewed, teased and streamed in the weeks before its release, Youth Code has shaped up to be one of the most talked-about debuts of 2013. It's also one of the most divisive. Of the critical feedback it has received so far, a significant portion can be placed in one of two camps: one hailing the LA duo of Sara Taylor and Ryan William George as young leaders of an EBM revival, the other dismissing them as an over-hyped recyclable. Both camps are built on the same idea: that Youth Code are indeed EBM purists. This is too reductive. The record's dense matrix of rapid-fire synth lines, harshly mechanized propulsion and fuck-the-man media samples certainly suggests a love for Front 242 and Front Line Assembly. But what's conspicuously lacking is vintage EBM's Kraftwerk-influenced pop sensibility. Classics like Nitzer Ebb's "Join In The Chant" may be soaked in dystopian angst, but they're also super catchy. Youth Code, in contrast, unleash a tuneless brutalism that's as cold as it is crunchy. It's a quality that reflects the duo's stated love for metalcore, grindcore, hardcore punk, etc. But to frame the album as some marriage of industrial and metal would also miss the mark (not least because the band don't use any rock instruments). In the end, Youth Code is a modern iteration of EBM, yet one that harnesses a very balls-out, mosh-pit aggression. It's a complex and demanding aesthetic. And what Youth Code makes obvious is that the group, who have been together for barely a year, are still figuring this thing out. Their album is a motley assortment of experiments, some more successful than others. Certain cuts fall back on more familiar templates: "No Animal Escapes" and "Distorted Views" can certainly be described as EBM revivalism, while "Let The Sky Burn" and "First & Last" have an electro-punk belligerence that recalls Ministry or Skinny Puppy. "Rest In Piss," in stark contrast, is pure noise abstraction—a grinding orgy of shrieks and static. Youth Code really hit their stride when they find a tenuous balance between their thrashing rage and the intricately programmed beats attempting to focus it. "Carried Mask" and "What Is The Answer?" are the prime examples. With both featuring Youth Crew-inspired barks and growls, they threaten to rip apart at the seams, yet soldier on in gloriously volatile fashion. Youth Code isn't a perfect album, but it is one hell of a first stab.
  • Tracklist
      01. Let The Sky Burn 02. First & Last 03. Carried Mask 04. Destroy" Said, She 05. Rest In Piss 06. What Is The Answer? 07. No Animal Escape 08. Distorted Views 09. Sick Skinned 10. Wear The Wounds