One of the founding artists of the WE R Music label, along with Brennan Heart, Toneshifterz and Outbreak, Code Black is among the first names that springs to mind when talking about Euphoric Hardstyle.
When you consider that Corey Soljan launched his Code Black alias all the way back in 2011, it’s almost a surprise to learn that “Journey” is in fact the first Code Black studio album.
Many of the 19 tracks on “Journey” will be familiar to fans, either from Code Black’s DJ sets or from the “Chapters” EPs released over the last year. Long time friend and collaborator Toneshifterz features prominently, with guest appearances from Wasted Penguinz, Da Tweekaz, Adrenalize and more.
While predominantly Euphoric Hardstyle at heart, “Journey” also delivers a few surprises along the way.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the milestone tracks on “Journey”. [Click link below to read more...]
Sparks – Code Black & Darren Styles
The uplifting, melodic side of Happy Hardcore has orbited so close to the sound of Euphoric Hardstyle in recent years that sometimes it’s really only a matter of bpms that separates the genres. Given the compatibility of their respective sounds, it was only ever a matter of time before Code Black collaborated on a track with Darren Styles, the undisputed ‘King of Happy Hardcore’.
Taking out opening position on the “Journey” track list, “Sparks” launches with gentle piano chords overlaid with innocent, romantic lyrics that could make the world around you fall away, leaving just you (and presumably your lover) alone to embrace the night.
As a side note, if you’re looking for the 170bpm edit, it’s on the “Sparks” single release, also on WE R Music.
Oi F#kn Oi – Code Black & Toneshifterz
Code Black and Toneshifterz have been working together since early in their careers. Both artists are from Sydney, once a 24hr party city but now subject to laws whereby entry to licenced premises is not permitted after 1.30am. “Oi F#kn Oi” is a bouncy, light-hearted protest track directed at the lockout laws.
A quick search on YouTube will bring up a fun animated video for “Oi F#kn Oi”, playing on some of the stereotypes from the Sydney rave scene.
“Journey” features several Toneshifterz collabs, taken from the “Chapter III” EP. “Before You Go” feels almost laid back in places, while “Smoke & Flame” is pure emotion from start to finish thanks to Insali’s sophisticated vocals. “Echo of Existence” is a much harder track, likely to appear towards the end of a set, inspiring stomping and fist pumps as opposed to hands in the air.
Time – Bioweapon
About three years ago, Audiofreq and Code Black briefly reunited to perform a select few sets as Bioweapon, delighting original fans and winning new ones in the process.
It seems crazy that so much time has passed since Bioweapon first burst on to the scene, but the classic Hardstyle sound of time “Time” shoots us straight back to the turn of the decade.
Never Be Forgotten – Code Black ft. Matthew Steeper
Featuring vocals by Matthew Steeper, who has worked with everyone from Hardwell to Darren Styles, “Never Be Forgotten” is quite simply a recipe for perfect Euphoric Hardstyle.
“Never Be Forgotten” sets the scene by starting with a vocal but doesn’t leave the listener hanging, instead the track smoothly builds into a soaring melody, until it finally drops with an energy that could send your heart to the moon and back.
Close The Door – Code Black ft. Insali
“Close The Door” jumps out as one of the hardest tracks on “Journey”, and when Code Black suddenly goes hard it’s actually a bit of a shock!
“Close The Door” is arguably even rougher and tougher than Code Black’s collaboration with label mate Sub Sonik, “Worlds Collide”, despite the latter being an undeniable screech-fest in places.
Haunting vocals by Insali take the darkness up yet another level, turning “Close The Door” into a spine-tingling anthem that could very well summon the undead. You’d better keep that door closed.
The official album wraps up with a fun, bouncy number named “Lowr U Go”, and there’s also a few bonus tracks, including a dub mix of the ever popular “You’ve Got The Love”.
“Journey” brings together a diverse range of Code Black’s projects from the last year or so into one collection, showcasing his production brilliance from every angle.
Code Black’s album “Journey” is available to buy or stream now at your favourite online music portal, or you can buy a physical CD copy at iamhardstyle.com.
Nicki Ranger is a freelance writer currently based in Perth, Western Australia.
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