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Code Orange - Forever (Album Review)

Thursday, 12 January 2017 Written by Alec Chillingworth

We’re drowning in a sea of beatdowns, and Code Orange are the liferaft. A liferaft harbouring four ravenous punks from Pittsburgh ready to cave your skull in, but a liferaft nonetheless. Their third full-length, ‘Forever’, is an album capable of carving through the mediocri-sea of bands currently half-arsing hardcore and shredding them in its hulking engines.

‘I Am King’ was a mighty record and had critics slathering over it upon release, but there were a few naysayers who remained unconvinced. They had their reasons, but they were all wrong. It was and remains a skewed, perverted take on their chosen genre, more in line with the ambidextrous audio of Converge than, say, Sick Of It All.

Code Orange are going to become a Devin Townsend or Dillinger Escape Plan, with each of their records representing a unique statement rooted in a sound that’s instantaneously associated with them and only them: that clunking, mechanical chop-and-change, the bleeping that makes you check your iPod to see if it’s broken. No. Code Orange have broken you.

On ‘Forever’ they break you in a number of ways. There are hulking metal riffs that could arm wrestle Gojira’s ‘The Way Of All Flesh’ material – pick-scraping and all. If you fancy donning a vest and necking an energy drink, Real’s “This is real now, motherfucker!” mosh call will keep your limbs loose for days. Kill The Creator, meanwhile, offers the record’s most potent dose of hardcore. But after this initial threesome, Code Orange delve into dirtier, darker territory.

Because they’re not just a hardcore band. It’s the other musical avenues the band stamp down that make ‘Forever’ so interesting. An electronic undercurrent bubbles throughout the entire record, most prominently on The Mud. But that’s not the most surprising element. Neither is their continued post-punk worship on Ugly’s intro and dream2.

The record’s highlight is Bleeding In The Blur. Not because it’s super brutal or the most complicated thing since Heroes was on telly, but because it’s the sound of a band taking what was a little experiment - Dreams In Inertia from ‘I Am King’ – and stretching it so far it reaches realms they’ve never explored before. Drummer Jami Morgan described it as “if Nirvana were fucking evil” and that’s pretty much it. It’s got a mammoth lead vocal, sung cleanly, by Reba Meyers and is basically a radio rock hit if radio rock amounted to more than soundtracking a trip to KFC. It’s an absolute parasite of a track and one that should make stars of Code Orange. It won’t, but it should.

‘Forever’ is feral and then some. It’s a maniacal animal that isn’t content in just tearing your flesh off.  There are so many different sides to this band and they’re all explored within the realms of their core sound, ensuring that it only ever sounds like Code Orange. Listen to this record. Or they’ll probably turn up on your doorstep and beat the shit out of you.

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