Code - The Enemy Within
For AOR with a twist, look no further than Code. "The Enemy Within" is a dreamy swirl of bands. You can hear the influences of Ten and Giant in the overall grandiose presentation, progressive touches and masterful instrumentation come from a base of Dream Theater's "Images and Words" (especially in guitar tone) and late 80s Magnum. There are nods to soft, clean AOR with Toto, 80s radio fluffed Chicago and Survivor and a harder rock edge that surfaces at times with the pull of House of Lords or Pretty Maids. All of these sounds are wound so tightly around the structured core that sometimes it just floats off the surface with a comforting familiarity. Drifting through styles and feelings, often bouncing from one to another in the same song with ease and an effortlessness that makes Code an easy band to enjoy.

Code is essentially the phoenix of Grand Illusion reborn under another moniker and having a different stylistic choice. Similar to the band of old, but bringing enough new to the table to set it apart from being too deeply compared to the past outfit. Anders Rydholm handles guitar, bass and keys, which the disc is absolutely brimming with all three, and Ola Af Trampe on just the axe. The singer has been plucked from a semi state of obscurity. Sherwood Ball has not often cropped up as a lead frontman for any band in particular, but his voice is heard by millions. A famous yet faceless unknown who is likely rarely given thought. He hides behind the mic as singer for a wide array of commercials for big name brands like Budweiser, Toyota, McDonalds, Coca Cola. His singing has reached so many yet no one knew who he was, and those hearing maybe didn't care, but being the leadman for Code has changed that. Sherwood has a splendid voice that makes you take notice. He pours out his soul with strong emotions and sensitivity and wrestles the rockers with power and finesse. He can easily be compared with Steve Overland from FM and sometimes even Mike Slamer especially on the uptempo material.

There are some really excellent songs hiding in this cd, especially "In the Shadows" with its layered keyboards and darker twist taking the spotlight. The finale, "Sworn to Silence" is an emotional, beautifully written ballad that shares real depth with the listener. A lovely vocal by the lead here drives the sentimental feel home as he works through his feelings as the track plays on. Hints of Toto can be heard here as it falls into darkness with dramatic cold moments and resigned sections that well up with the warmth of fresh tears from inevitable sorrow. "Sign Up For Love" is a predictable favorite. An easy chorus to get caught in and pure hard rock from start to finish.

"How Do We Stay in Love" is another superb ballad that whisks you into a world of 80s pop lite in the style of Peter Cetera Chicago or Jimi's Survivor. Blooming with romance it asks the question and reveals some answers all within a cushy setting that is like swirling down feathers from a ripped puffy pillow. "Alive" begins with a rolling drum rhythm that reminds me of the hook beat for summer 06s candy hip pop hit "Promiscuous" before hustling into an uptempo rock track. It morphs into a delectable hybrid of Magnum at their progressive peak utilizing a sweet bell-like guitar tone reminiscent of Petrucci's work on Dream Theater's "Images and Words". A play between light and shadows, a twilight dance if you will, twirling between audio worlds effortlessly.

Next up is a completely different take on rock n roll. "Uninvited Guest" dusts off the hammond organs and jams with a thumping rocker beat straight out of Deep Purple from the 70s. Toss in a bit of Rainbow from "Down to Earth" and another great handling of the vocals, and you have a nice diversion with a totally unique taste than anything else on this Code release.

The rest of the disc is give or take, varying degrees of success. A turn to the Westcoast for "Change the World" is not too successful. It is too loopy (repetitive) although it tries very hard to get you to warm up to it, like an overactive puppy begging for attention. The overkill on the chorus usage makes you want to kick this puppy to the curb however. No matter how endearing it could be. "Flying High" suffers from the same disabilities but has a more distinctive flavor and rocks on the harder side. There is nothing on Code that is below average at all, every song seems to find a way to your mind and heart the longer you listen. Even the opener grows on you after awhile, and its one of the simpler pieces on the disc.

Code's "The Enemy Within" is packed with talent put to good use, has a great sound, and is a fun, varied disc to listen to. The technical side is surprisingly diverse and fine tuned and the progressive touches to the AOR/hard rock formula are measured out just right. Over 40 songs were written for this project but only 11 were selected. The ones on display are so good it makes you wonder what the ones that didn't make the cut must be like! This is an unexpected treat of a cd to kick off the year with especially in regard to the vocalist. Its a must buy just to hear Sherwood's fabulous pipes and dead on perfect performance.

Written by Alanna
Friday, February 9, 2007
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Comment by VonSeux (Anonymous) - Thursday, March 8, 2007
good album. =)

Review by Alanna

Released by
Escape - 2007

1. The Enemy Within
2. Sign Up For Love
3. Home Away From Home
4. In The Shadows
5. How Do We Stay In Love
6. My Time
7. Alive
8. Uninvited Guest
9. How Can I Change The World?
10. Flying High
11. Sworn To Silence

Supplied by Zink

AOR/hard rock

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