LIVE: Youth Code / Shallow Sanction @ Electrowerkz, London

By Glen Bushell

Over the course of the last four years, Youth Code have grown from a cut and paste EBM project to a full on industrial force. Since forming, the Los Angeles-based duo of Sara Taylor and Ryan George have honed their craft, gained the respect of the pioneers of the scene, and released one of the most intense records of the year, ‘Commitment To Complications’.

It’s taken a while for Youth Code to undertake a full UK tour, so the anticipation for their arrival is thick in the air. First off, It’s down to London’s own Shallow Sanction to warm the crowd up. While a very different band to tonight’s headliners, their dark brand of punk fits perfectly in confines of the dimly lit Electrowerkz venue.

After technical difficulties plague the first few moments of their set, they battle through, bringing the visceral bite of ‘Vacant Rituals’ to life. Their sound is redolent of classic death rock, with vocalist Jesse Cannon’s British twang adding a 70’s punk feel to the mix. The majority of the crowd probably aren’t used to a band like Shallow Sanction, but by the time they reach their self-titled track at the end, they have caught the attention of everyone in the room.

It takes approximately ten seconds of Youth Code’s opening track, ‘Transitions’, for you to realise just how powerful they truly are. Taylor’s nihilistic vocals are razor-sharp as she hurls herself around the stage to the earth-shattering bass beneath her. George manipulates the pulsating rhythm and air-tight snare cracks of ‘To Burn Your World’, while the dirty dance floor slam of ‘The Dust Of Fallen Rome’ is even more unrelenting than on record.

With their backgrounds in hardcore and metal, Youth Code are a much heavier prospect than you imagine given their minimal set up. The breaks and digital blast beats, set to their strict BPM mantra are ferocious. While the cues they take from their Wax Trax! forefathers are worn proudly on their sleeves, the ungodly noise of one of their earliest tracks, ‘Carried Mask’, still sounds leagues ahead of its time. As they reach a climax with ‘Consuming Guilt’, a brutal battle cry for animal rights, the tension of this exhausting, cathartic set comes to a head.

While many bands are striving to be as heavy and ballistic as they can, Youth Code make it look effortless. This is the vision of digital hardcore coming to life, and a new dawn for EBM.