Code Orange – Forever ((ALBUM REVIEW))

CODE ORANGE / FOREVER ~ ALBUM REVIEW xxx

The Pittsburgh band once known as Code Orange Kids prove, on their third LP, that they are no longer children. The band were barely legal at the time of their signing in 2012 and have been ploughing their way through expectations ever since, constantly thriving and pushing the limits. This is a band that are confident, a band who have found their feet, and a band who’s legacy will last forever (please pardon the pun).

(image courtesy of iprobablyhateyourband.com)

Following up from their scorchingly aggressive critically acclaimed 2014 record, I Am King was never going to be a simple endeavour, but the band manage to concoct something even more sinister with Forever.

Much like its predecessor, Forever sits upon an undeniable burden of drudgery, their mix of dull and oppressive may be an uncomfortable listen to some but stylistically acquires a distinct sound, with its own original hallmarks.

Forever’s red coloration is all over the record, emanating anger and fury all over the damn shop. The electronics and pummelling music combine to create a suitable soundtrack to a brutal slasher, practically oozing blood red in its purest form. The band perfectly encapsulates the colour throughout, and the result is an aggressive listen.

The album was released, fittingly, on Friday the 13th via Roadrunner Records and has been widely described as the perfect metallic hardcore album. The album is intwined with widespread influences from both the metal and hardcore genres, as well as making brief odes in passing to shoegaze, grunge and nu metal. “Bleeding In The Blur“, one of several album highlights, features clean vocals, and grunge riffs that are almost similar to bands like Queens Of The Stone Age, whereas “Hurt Goes On” carries the eerie atmosphere of Nine Inch Nails.

As a whole, the LP is an impeccable blend of distorted vocals, punchy percussion, spine tingling breakdowns, and MASSIVE grooves. The peak of the album for me are the times where guitarist Reba Meyers takes charge, complete with a killer solo on “Bleeding In The Blur” and again on discordant closer, “Dream2“. This shift in tone is clear in its aim to differentiate itself from the band’s previous releases.

From the exact moment that the disgustingly heavy title track and album opener starts, you know full well that you’re in for a journey akin to descending into the purgatory depths of Hell.  ear splitting feedback lays the foundation for the introduction, rattling the teeth inside your skull with its inconceivable amounts of aggression that is also evident in “Kill The Creator“.

Forever is yet another triumph for Code Orange, a step in the right direction, working upon the sound they configured on I Am King, with flourishes of insightful variety throughout. With a battering of violent bass and guitars harmonising together, “Real” pushes the album that much further with its darkness inciting the aroma of a psychological horror movie (“THIS IS REAL NOW, MOTHERFUCKER”). The band continue to crash through the scene with “The Mud” and its low tuned muting of guitar and an exquisite mixture of snarls and cleans, which are undoubtedly unique amongst a genre that frequently evokes thoughts of “I swear I’ve heard this before?”, but not with Code Orange.

No One Is Untouchable” brings more atmospheric brutality to the record and doesn’t hint at shying away from being tonally sharp and crisp, in its delivery, the ending of the track infuses a beatdown style chord progression with an electronic underbelly. Despite some angst ridden lyricism scattered around, the pure jaggedness hits the mark of the band’s unsubtle nature. Where Code Orange truly excel is where the dynamics exhibit controlled chaos rather than sounding simply erratic.

The guitar work of Meyers and Eric Balderose is stellar through the entire album, but is truly accentuated by the brooding electronics laid over “Spy“, sounding as if the pair are torturing their instruments rather than playing them. The song trudges through a hellishly heavy ending, as the vocals growl like a devil.

It may be hard to consider an album released within the first two weeks of the year as an album of the year contender but Code Orange have blown all that will precede it out of the water, for me, with this one and produced something unlike anything I have ever heard! Progression is the reason for the band’s consistent success, as the band have effortlessly crafted their trade whilst improving their sound and heightening their status in the hardcore genre. If you have the perception that Code Orange would sell out from signing to Roadrunner, this album will be sure to avert that ideology from the opening seconds to its finale.

Don’t sleep on this album, Code Orange’s intent is more than clear as they continue to grow and push the boundaries with each release. I hope this band is around for decades, the talent of these young Pittsburgh adolescents is fuelled excellently by their coherent attitudes and they show no signs of halting any time soon.

Forever is a testament to how much beauty you can find in utter destruction, calling to mind images of wading through a sea of corpses and being engulfed in a rainstorm of blood Evil Dead style, where all sense of direction is lost.

10/10

Words by Ben Davies

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