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The Codex: The Codex
Melodic Heavy Metal
Rating: 5.0/5.0

The Codex is a brand new collaboration between two great metal musicians, exceptional American vocalist Marc Boals (Yngwie Malmsteen, Ring Of Fire, et al) and Swedish guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire, Magnus Karlsson (Allen/Lande, Starbreaker, Last Tribe, Midnight Sun, and more). With this significant tidbit of information, you should already be on your way out to buy this album. Go now! And, I shouldn't have to write anymore (but I will, of course). This is an incredibly strong melodic metal album from two of the best of the best.

Karlsson is, of course, the genius behind the Allen/Lande projects. His song craftsmanship and fret skills are legendary by now. Mr. Karlsson out does himself on 'The Codex.' Mr. Boals returns to the studio after a three year absence and sounds better than ever: strong, clear and passionate. Every song is filled with grandeur: sweeping arrangements, strong vocals, and flaming guitar work. All though this work is incredible from start to finish, let me point out some highlights in no particular order. (I'm listening to the album once again as I write.)

A perfect example of the extraordinary quality of this creation is 'Whole Again.' Sometimes a power ballad and then also a full blown metal experience, this song has a symphonic arrangement and some awesome guitar work. Boals is truly inspired sounding as if he was born to his occupation. 'Beyond the Dark' also begins with a majestic introduction, yet easily moves into a straight forward melodic metal number (nee melodic hard rock). If there is any song on 'The Codex' that screams 'melodic heavy metal,' it's 'Toxic Kiss.' It's hard, heavy and harmonious and, Karlsson nails it with his blistering guitar work. 'Mystery' is another cut that puts the melody into the mix thanks to some subtle keyboards and great vocal arrangements. Again, Boals is so smooth and efficient, it's damn scary. The album closes with the terrific 'Garden Of Grief' which reminds me of more sophisticated power metal. Again, Boals sings like his moments on earth are few, truly inspiring work. And Mr Karlsson shines with some thrilling fret work.

I can't say enough about this incredible pairing of Boals and Karlsson: these guys were meant to work together. 'The Codex' is phenomenal melodic metal; it's destined to be a classic. Along with the Allen/Lande accomplishments, 'The Codex' should be studied as a contemporary standard for great metal. Get this album! Is that too much of a recommendation?
  - Craig Hartranft

In Short

Marc Boals and Magnus Karlsson: what does that tell you? It tells you that you have a extraordinary vocalist and a supreme songwriter and guitarist working together to create a sophisticated and pleasing melodic metal album. Everything about this work kicks ass: great vocals, superb arrangements, and sterling guitar work. Highly recommended!

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