Many who grew up with 1990s Christian music fondly remember the Code of Ethics's dance/pop/rock stylings. The band's energetic Euro-pop influences made them a youth group favorite. As a reviewer who grew up listening to more contemporary music, I discovered most of their songs when I reached adulthood. Boy, I'm glad that's changed. As their major label breakthrough self-titled release turns a whopping 30 years old this year (do you feel old?), we look back at some of my favorite tracks from the album and how their career developed in the subsequent years.
Influenced by Europop heavyweights such as Depeche Mode and New Order, the Code of Ethics was poised to fill a sonic void in Christian music in the 1990s. Their debut album, Visual Paradox, released on a smaller indie label, caught the attention of bigger label Forefront Records. Their synth and beat-driven sound set the band apart from many of their contemporaries at the time. Forefront rereleased Visual Paradox as their popularity grew in anticipation of their proper label debut. Therefore, during the summer of 1993, the band released their eponymous album, which served as their official nationwide debut.
The Best Cuts
"Freedom" is an instant favorite of mine. With its fast-paced techno beat and unforgettable chorus, this song is a guaranteed hit. The band's style reminds me of contemporary artist Tony Vincent's debut album, released around the same time these guys were getting big. "Freedom" sings of how Christ's salvation truly frees us and is a career highlight of the Code. "True Love" offers a similarly bouncy techno-hit while "Something Real" proved to be the most commercially successful cut on Christian radio.
There is also plenty to love in the album's deeper cuts, such as "Chasing the Dragon" and "Satellite Babies." The latter was featured in promotional material for celebrity Warren Miller's ski videos. The band also filmed a never-released music video deemed too dark for Christian audiences—a fitting mystery given the band's sci-fi stylings. "Follow On" also made an impact on radio.
Code of Ethics enjoyed increasing success from the hits of this album, including opening for the Newsboys on their Not Ashamed Tour. Their 1995 follow-up, Arms Around The World, offered even more chart-topping hits that stand atop the band's most classic songs. Soulbait and Blaze would continue to chart the band's legacy.
The band went on hiatus in the early 2000s, and lead singer Barry Blaze had to recover from a near-fatal accident. But the late 2000s would see the band return for a second act and produce several more critically acclaimed albums. While they've since returned to their hiatus, they have left a strong and unique legacy in Christian music. This author hopes for a possible Act III in their career.
J.J. Francesco is a longtime contributor to the NRT Staff. He's published the novel 'Because of Austin' and regularly seeks new ways to engage faith, life, and community. His new novel, 'When Miracles Can Dream,' is out NOW!
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