Review Summary: Dark and urgent hardcore with borderless limitations.
There’s no such thing as bad publicity. In the metal community, there are ample amounts of bands that never would have reached their sky-scraping popularity if the media had not broadcast the negative reflection of them. It is one way of making your name, and your band, known to the world. However, the underlying risk is that most people will avoid your music altogether, while those that do bother to listen to it will judge it on the member’s character; rather than the musical content itself.
Pittsburgh’s Code Orange, formerly Code Orange Kids, are the band that fits this definition. Aside from their unfazed outspoken charisma, the band is known for their swift ascension in the hardcore sector. Leasing between punk, melodic hardcore, death metal and an array of other genres, their second album “I Am King” signified that Code Orange’s bark was as bad as their bite. After constant touring and signing to RoadRunner Records, Code Orange are, once again, ready to rattle someone’s cage with “Forever”.
Overall, the genre that Code Orange resonates most is with hardcore. The songs on “Forever” are urgent, unapologetic and affronting: all go-to characteristics of the genre. Nevertheless, Code Orange branch off in so many directions that makes “Forever” sound genuinely unique. ‘Ugly’ is a slow, grungy song with some bending Nine Inch Nails electronics stirred in, and the band’s best shot at being radio friendly is ‘Bleeding In The Blur’, which commences with guitarist/joint singer Reba Meyers’ clean vocals that lead gambolling rhythms and spiralling riffs which somehow still manages to replicate the painful mood “Forever” exhibits.
The song structures on “Forever” are a double-edged sword. The majority of the album features discordant song structures that snap from genre to genre, or suddenly stops in silence, only to continue again, or signifies that a different vocalist is coming into play. The pure jaggedness represents the band’s unsubtle nature, but on the other hand, it makes “Forever” a jarring album to listen to as a whole since the aforementioned breaks in the structures are volatile. Despite some angst lyricism scattered around the album, where Code Orange truly excel is in the more driven songs, like ‘Bleeding in the Blur’, where the dynamics exhibit controlled chaos rather than sounding simply erratic.
Kurt Ballou’s predictably masterful production captures, and propels, the brutal rawness of Code Orange’s music on their third album. The opening title track displays the core sound to Code Orange, which acts as a backbone for the rest of the album. Initially, it sounds like an amp and a cymbal falling down a staircase, but a few guitar slides later and the band kick into gear through filthy breakdowns, isolated bass lines and dark growls. ‘The New Reality’ sounds like it’s straight off a Nails and Meshuggah collaboration due to disharmonious riffs and outright ferocity. ‘Spy’ is a highlight on the album for production where Ballou’s signature clenching, compressed sound makes Eric Balderose’s guitars sound like nails scratching on a chalkboard, evoking all feelings of discomfort.
Isn’t it ironic that one of the first metal albums to be released in 2017 comes from a band whose statements, regarding the artificial conviction behind the music other bands play, ignites so much controversy in the scene that their popularity is boosted with every quote; which is the same technique that the bands they expose utilize? What sets Code Orange apart from the bands they exploit: there is a genuine candid, coarse conviction behind their music.