In late 2016, Pittsburgh metalcore/hardcore up-and-comers Code Orange began to post disturbing and cryptic images of a naked man within what appeared to be some sort of sacrificial circle, accompanied with the tagline: “Tomorrow. No more games.”
Similar imagery was used to promote the release of their previous album, 2014’s I Am King. This time, the pictures lead up to the release of their upcoming album’s title track, “Forever.” As of January 13th, Code Orange have released the follow up to I Am King, as well as their major label debut: Forever (Roadrunner Records). The act formerly known as Code Orange Kids has exploded into popularity since I Am King’s release, touring with big name acts such as Killswitch Engage and Deftones, and performing at the Rockstar Mayhem Festival across the U.S. in 2015, and This Is Hardcore in Philadelphia for the third consecutive year in 2016. The band’s lineup (which has remained the same since 2012’s Love is Love/Return to Dust) consists of guitarists Eric Balderose (who also contributed to the electronics on this record) and Reba Meyers, bassist Joe Goldman, and drummer Jami Morgan, with vocal duties being split between Balderose, Meyers, and Morgan.
Forever begins with its title track, which immediately onslaughts the listener with booming, thunderous drums and crunchy, screeching guitars. Producers Kurt Ballou (of legendary metalcore band Converge) and Will Yip (Title Fight, Citizen, Turnstile, Balance and Composure) know exactly how to capture the energy and desired brutality of Code Orange. As the song picks up, the instruments are joined by Morgan’s bellows, Balderose’s guttural growls, and Meyers’ haunting singing voice. This track is a pretty true-to-form Code Orange song – it’s heavy, unforgiving, and in-your-face.
“Kill the Creator” follows “Forever,” and kicks in as an equally heavy, but faster follow up to the opening track. Jeremy Tingle of the New Jersey hardcore band Lifeless provides guest vocals on this song, which also features Meyers’ shrieks accompanying Morgan’s screaming vocals. This song also displays the first instance of Code Orange implementing industrial electronics into their music, which occur in the form of randomized breaks in the music throughout the album.
The heaviness continues on “Real,” which ends in an absolutely terrifying slow-down, as the three vocalists scream together at once over the brutal instrumentation (following Morgan’s declaration that “this is real now, motherfucker”).
However, “Bleeding in the Blur” completely changes the pace. It’s as close as Code Orange will get to a radio rock song, and follows in the vein of bands like Queens of the Stone Age or Alice in Chains. Meyers takes over full vocal duties for the song, and surprises listeners with clean, catchy verses and choruses that wouldn’t feel out of place in her alt rock side-project, Adventures (which also features Goldman and Morgan). It is from here on out that Forever starts to display the diversity that makes this album stand apart from Code Orange’s previous work.
“The Mud” showcases the aforementioned use of electronic breaks in the music, which includes an unnerving electronic passage that cuts into the middle of the track and lasts almost two minutes.
“The New Reality” and “Spy” follow in the traditional Code Orange brand of heavy: pummeling guitars, and layered screams from the three vocalists scattered throughout the tracks. “Ugly” almost acts as a companion to “Bleeding in the Blur,” and is reminiscent of a 90’s grunge track – but still manages to fit within the context of the record. The band brings the heavy back with “No One is Untouchable,” but truly begins to shift gears with the last two tracks of the album.
To cap off the mammoth that is Forever, Code Orange save their most experimental songs on the record for last. “Hurt Goes On” features two minutes of mangled and distorted spoken word, which eventually breaks into a full-on industrial metal ending. “dream2” once again brings Meyers back to the forefront, as she croons over a single guitar with dreamy and nightmare-inducing electronic effects in the background. Appropriately, the track ends in the middle of the last of Meyers’ verses – creating a sense of unease and confusion for the listener.
Code Orange have shown once again that they are here to stay, and that their resolve remains unmoved. Forever is a rollercoaster of absolutely brutal riffs, haunting choruses and melodies, and parts that are just plain unsettling. The band is currently embarking on their album release tour across the United States, and is scheduled to be on the road for quite a while.
Check out this crazy set they played in Germany below!
Did you see that video….? Exactly. Catch them on tour this winter!