Code Orange Forever2017 Roadrunner Records
Involuntary blood drive.
There comes a time for nearly every band where their music transforms from their passion into their career. They get a few albums under their belt, establish a fanbase and the trappings of responsibility tighten as job security becomes a (publicly) unspoken concern. Usually the releases that follow selfishly attempt to commercialize past success or continue milking it with slight variations.
Leave it to the youth in Code Orange to raze that school of thought. “Forever” is a match and gasoline being applied to the clichés of hardcore & heavy music at large. A self-indulgent headfirst plunge into the unknown that fearlessly incorporates their broader influences into an unpredictably sludgy mix of repugnant aggression and bittersweet aspiration. To be blunt: a ‘safe’ album this is not.
Up until now the majority of Code Orange‘s members had segregated their more diverse interests into side projects. “Forever” is the turning point where they open the flood doors and let it all in. From the gnarled electronic/industrial undercurrents plaguing tracks like “Kill The Creator” and “Real“, to the unexpected left turn, “Bleeding In The Blur“, this is unhindered creative catharsis.
That latter track in particular weaves a sticky web of tuneful alt rock and post-hardcore grit while shining a brighter light on the band’s secret weapon, guitarist/vocalist Reba Meyers. For extra impact, it also emerges without warning following a decimating wave of the band’s more turbulent fare.
Continuing on a similar path is the song, “Ugly“, which also takes on a more traditional early 90’s post-hardcore bent with hushed introspective vocals spelling out a moody internal monologue punctured by abrasive choruses. Then there’s “Hurt Goes On“, which wallows in ominous atmosphere and foreboding bass drops only to close out with the kind of explosive industrial fervor last seen from a fishnet and leather adorned Trent Reznor.
While these are just a few of the more adventurous moments that populate this album, there’s still plenty of visceral gristle delivered through the inexorable crush of distorted lunges, bellowed vocals and primal hunger. Indeed, the bulk of “Forever” is a heaving mass of noisy intensity that forcibly asserts control whether you protest or not. But given the already high watermark Code Orange have set for themselves, this is an expected outcome.
What makes “Forever” truly stand out is how it introduces a greatly expanded sonic palette while still retaining each grim shade of heaviness the band have built their name on. Every moment lives, breathes and dies before your eyes without pretense or commercial concern. An instinctive snapshot of a band stepping into their prime on their own terms.