Code Black

Transcending the Mundane

"Pairing the precision of metal with the aggression of modern hardcore... Code Black merge new school dynamics with American thrash metal elements." I could not have described Code Black's sound any better than their biography does. The Vermont based band is comprised of veteran musicians as ex-Colour Trip guitarist Mark Wolzenburg formed the band with 5 Seconds Expired rhythm section Shaun Varney (bass) and Gary Williams (drums), and vocalist Rorri Quero. If you're familiar with Colour Trip and any of their four albums, you know what type of guitarist Mark is. His playing is sharp and heavy, often with a crossover groove. With the excellent band around him and an awesome production from Kataklysm's Jean Francois Dagenais, Penetration turns out to be a killer album. The first thing I notice is the dominant guitar riffing which is aided by the superior production. "Hell of a World" has some awesome bass playing to complement great riffs. This band is tight. Like most bands of this style, from Pantera to Pro Pain, the vocalist usually proves to be the weak link. Code Black vocalists Rorri Quero gets the job done admirably and even sounds like Flotsam And Jetsam's Eric A.K. on "Scream When You Burn." I liked Colour Trip a lot but Code Black is even better. 9/10

Wormwood Chronicles

Code Black takes a most refreshing approach to metalcore music and "Penetration" is one of the most pleasant surprises I've had this year. Instead of hitting us with another barrage of wanna-be guitar hero histrionics and melodic death metal influences, these guys favor a stripped-down, razor-sharp approach that cuts through the crap and gets right to the heart of heavy music. They pull from old-school thrash and hardcore sources and pretty much dispense with excessive guitar flourishes from the get go. "Penetration" is full of super-crunchy, crisply produced riffs that are as catchy as hell. It's not a speed fest, as most tracks are mid-paced in construction, but the power of their hooks is undeniable. If you can imagine a cross between Exciter and the Cro-Mags, you'd be pretty closed to the Code Black ethic.

Rorri Quero's vocals at first sound bland and not as growly as the typical metalcore screamer today, but this winds up as another strength and sign of the band's diverse approach. The vocals are pretty matter of fact and almost more spoken than sung, but Quero's throws in the occasional melodic touch to lighten things up. Not the greatest vocalist, but unique and adequate to the task.

The record really kicks off in fine fashion with the chuggy, thrashing riffs of "Sound is All that Remains" and then gets even better with the incredibly infectious "Superior Machine", sure to get your head bobbing. "Killing Word" hits your nuts like a battering ram with its thunderous yet toe-tapping assault.

By now, I thought I'd gotten an all-time classic, but the album does become a little predictable in its second half and the lack of guitar solos makes things a little grey. Also, closing instrumental "Black Mirror" is kind of pretentious with its multiple false endings and samples, though it actually shows Mark Wolzenburg can play a mean solo if he chooses to.

So a very promising debut from a young band with some room to grow. These guys would destroy live and I urge "Penetration" for every Code Black virgin out there!

Stranger Aeons

In the new barrage of Power Metal acts, few could hold a candle to Code Black. Strain as they will, most fall far short of greatness. Code Black's 2004 opus, "Penetration" [Arctic Music], is the surly exception.With tight, crushing rhythms and massive grooves, Code Black makes a thunderous assault. The vocals are a rough-hewn, deep yell with a punishing edge. Code Black makes it brutal. The best cuts include the tenebrous frenzy of "Hell Of A World," "Penetration," the intensity of "Escape Vision Pain," and "Nothing Left." Overall, Code Black is superior Power Metal band. It's a crushing, mutilated wonder. Stay savage.


Debut from this USA metalcore band that goes by the name of Penetration. With this penetration nothing sexual is meant but penetration your mind. Code Black is combining different styles into songs that explode from aggression and energy. Hardcore is the main stream but also thrash. The vocals are powerful and clean with different intonations. The guitars are intense with some heavy riffs and leads while the drums are filling the holes and even go on blast bassdrums. The songs are easy listening but have a slice of addiction in them which leads to moshing in your room and playing it again.

1340 Mag

Code Black has busted down the gates thrusting upon us a searing mix of rock and black metal. It is most assuredly a combination that delivers well on all fronts. While the rock side of this album might remind those of a more classic vinyl feel, the black metal side of this album will most certainly bring the listener into a more cryptic feel.

In "Penetration" you have an album with a unique musical feel that delivers well. The overall appeal of this album is probably very limited though. While it might seem like I'm contradicting myself just check the album out and you'll hear what I mean. There will be those of us that love this album from the get go and we'll be the core fans. This unfortunately does not seem to be an album that will grow on you over time. You're either going to love it or hate it, plain and simple.

Don't let me mislead you with what I'm saying. Code Black has created a great CD in "Penetration". I just don't see them developing a broad fan base.


I would call this sound hardcore thrash, but the sound is even more divers than that. There is a lot of variety in the arrangements, and you will discover new aspects with every spin. The production by JF Dagenais (Kataklsym/Canada) is very good, with a clean "metallic" sound. Cool guitar riffs (though only with one guitarist, the guitar lines are doubled), clean vocals that remind me of old-school Thrash or hardcore heroes, powerful drumming, and an audible bass make the listening very enjoyable. Sometimes, the sound even reminds me of Slayer's South of Heaven. Maybe it's the vocal style. Thrash and hardcore fans should definitely check out this release. 4/5 points.

Music Scan

I always thought that the stagnating metal scene simply sucked up the fresh impulses coming from the metalcore scene. This is all part of the never-ending hype surrounding the acts of the New American Wave Of Heavy Metal, acts that have spent years in the hardcore and metalcore scenes. Of course, metalheads caught on, especially those that were into active in the crossover scene that dominated then nineties. Code Black, for example, has former members of Colour Trip, 5 Seconds Expired and Disturbance.

Even though Code Black's debut "Penetration" is a pure thrash assault, the label Arctic Music Group tries to market it as New England metalcore. No matter what, Code Black is a thrash outfit, and nothing else. From the first spin, the record displays its aggressive potential, and so it's finally a release by a New-England band without breakdowns. I didn't even think this was possible. Clean vocals and heavy grooves form a nice contrast to the heavy shouting, with the sound crossing over into Biohazard-territory. The band that Code Black reminds me the most of is Pantera.

"Penetration" is a very tight and straight-forward album. The only thing that could be improved is the production. Even though produced by JG Dagenais (Kataklysm, Misery Index), the record could have sounded more powerful. This makes the songs lose a bit of their effectiveness since it pushes the vocals too much into the foreground. Nevertheless, this is a very good debut album and thrash fans should definitely check it out.


Says here that Code Black are vets of the "New England" metal scene, which is disturbingly vague, really. I mean, they could be from New Hampshire and play lumberjack metal, like Scissorfight, or from Worcester, Ma, like 6,500 other bands, and play nu-tinged metalcore. Hell, they could even be from the wilds of Maine and play.well, who knows what kinda metal they play up there. They've been known to poison the church coffee urn, and even eat each other in Maine, so that's anyone's guess. Me, I'd put my money on Connecticut, a state rife with hardcore bands and thrash metal bands, since Code Black rather seamlessly merges the two here. Rife with machine-gunning riffs and throaty vox, Code Black's sound is somewhere near '83 Slayer or Metallica, only played with the short-haired solemnity of a Victory Records hardcore band. They're serious as all fuck, these cats, with all the conviction and rage that restless youth provides. Me, I liked this kinda stuff better when the bands wrapped themselves in bullet belts and sang songs about fucking Satan's daughter. But hey, the riffs on this record all sound like plaster being ripped outta the ceiling, and that's close enough to rock n roll for me. If you dig thrash metal, this'll probably put your ass in traction.

Threshold of Pain

Mark Wolzenburg and Co. appear to have broken new ground with their recent release, "Penetration." For those who are not aware, this is a new project begun after a Colour Trip disbanding. Code Black builds on their foundation from where Colour Trip left off... fast, furious, and rather harsh hardcore riffing to a now more-polished 'hardcore/metal' production. The new release from Code Black is a significant departure from Colour Trip's raw and guttural sound, but it effectively retains the brutal aggression that Colour Trip was always well-known for. With this release you will discover fast, precise and in-your-face riffing with improved production qualities. an infinitely more-enjoyable listen.Overall, Code Black are very solid musicians and the band is tight. If your preference is fast 'n' heavy, downtuned, crunchy guitar rhythms (think Gibson/Mesa-Boogie) with a mix of low and high-range vocal melodies-- then this one is for you. Leads are infrequent... melodies are mostly derived from Rorri Quero's wide vocal range. The vocals, guitars and drums never muddy up in this production... the engineering reminds us of some Manowar releases... no matter how loud it gets, each instrument and vocals remain crystal clear and do not interfere with each other's frequency ranges.

Highlights include: Sound is All that Remains - divine bridge/chorus; Penetration (title track) - layers of heaviness. Black Mirror is our favorite. a rather interesting and eerie composition. possible material for the next 'Omen' movie soundtrack?

If the next release is as good as this one, we'll look forward to the second installment of Code Black. KW.


Code Black play a throw-back "crossover" style reminiscent of the Crumsuckers, D.R.I. and Biohazard. So you have pounding, chunky, rhythmic guitars fronted by a mid-range, gritty, shouty vocalist who occasionally gets into a rap rhythm. Song structures are straight forward, and to the their credit, the band keeps things pleasingly concise (something that many groups should learn to do). How you feel about the cats I mentioned in the first sentence will solidify how you view "Penetration", as Code Black are definitely from that school of rock.

Vocalist Rorri Quero doesn't have much range, but he does mix in some cleaner, higher ranged vocals at times to offer a change from his typical rasp. Mark Wolzenberg is a solid guitarist who comes up with quite a few head bangin' riffs as well as some cool speed picking from time to time. Sadly the band has decided to go the "no solo" route, so they blend into the sub genre due to the lack of distinction from it. Oddly enough, Mark shows that he can play some good solos on the final instrumental track (which would have been much better had it ended at the three minute mark, rather than meandering aimlessly for another five minutes or so). Gary Williams is a solid drummer and Shaun Varney is barely audible on bass, about the only time I can hear him is when they do a specific part where everything drops out save for said instrument. Too bad.

The production is good, but the mix ain't so hot. The instruments sound good, even the bass has a nice twang when you can hear it, but the vocals are too up front and the bottom end (no shock) is lacking. Kick the bass up and step back the vox (to emphasize the guitars better) and this would have sounded killer. As it is, it's better than some indy releases, but it can be greatly improved upon in the future. I'll never understand why bass is so neglected on metal CDs - part of the thrill of the live experience is to feel that bass thud deep inside your chest, yet so many engineers fail to recognize and/or capture this on disc. C'est la vie.

The lyrics aren't your usual tough guy stuff. They are packed with streetwise attitudes, but they're presented in an enigmatic, poetic manner. Nice. I'm not sure what half of them are about, but the booklet contains all of 'em, so you'll have the ability to ponder their meaning at your leisure. "Penetration" is a solid effort and worth looking into for those of you into the style.

Treats from the Underground

This is the debut release by this New England metalcore group. They have a strong blend of American Metal with Hardcore aggression. They toss in a lot of Thrash Metal elements all throughout. The music has this very cool Thrash Metal groove that remind me of Exodus "Bonded By Blood" era. The vocals are done in a straight-forward Thrash metal style like Forbidden. These guys are a great band that is helping to bring back the 80's Thrash Metal sound.

Hellride Music

On the info sheet that accompanied this stated that Code Black was "American metal meets hardcore aggression." I thought, oh no, another Biohazard. But, fortunately I was wrong. There are comparisons to be made to Biohazard, of course, they're definitely not clones. For the most part they play some mean thrash with speed thrown in at times. There are some hardcore vocals and only one track where they rap. Solid riffs, good solos and very understandable vocals. The bass is kind of mixed low, but that's fine. The music part kind of reminds me of Overkill. This is a pretty fair debut of aggressive metal from Vermont not something I really 't jump up and down for joy over. But still, it's pretty good.