13th January 2017 – Roadrunner Records
02. Kill The Creator
04. Bleeding In The Blur
05. The Mud
06. The New Reality
09. No One Is Untouchable
10. Hurt Goes On
If Pennsylvanian four-piece Code Orange‘s aim with last album I Am King was to thin the herd – a lyric off which much of the album’s marketing played – then they’ll have been somewhat perturbed by the complete opposite happening amongst their fanbase.
The group – still in their early twenties – made a bold step last year, signing to Roadrunner. Say what you will about certain bands among the label’s roster, but they’re big players, and it was a coup for both parties; Code Orange have shown major promise and more than a slice of individuality in their career to date, and there few groups their age who are as worldly. How many in their position can claim touring scalps like Terror, Slayer, Killswitch Engage, and Deftones so early in their career?
Much like its predecessor, Forever feels like it carries an almost unbearable burden of drudgery; their sonic palette is an uncomfortable mix of dull and oppressive, and it’s often not an easy listen. Indeed, Code Orange’s unconventional songwriting approach is not for everyone – they’ll often sacrifice payoff for cutting the song short without warning, or change direction three different times within the space of a few bars – but stylistically it achieves a sound that whilst not wholly original, has their own distinct hallmarks.
Key to the album are some superbly executed sly departures from this template. Guitarist Reba Meyers’ solo turns at the microphone are particular highlights: firstly in third single “Bleeding In The Blur“, a song strikingly at odds with Code Orange’s usual approach – complete with shredding solo – which sees her take on lead vocals; and then in sparse, discordant album closer “dream2“, whose bends and echoing harmonics build the song, sitting under her clear, simple vocal. Both add a different dimension to an album already clear in its intent to differentiate itself from its predecessor.
Elsewhere, “Hurt Goes On” grows from a Nine Inch Nails-inspired mid-section, with dark, brooding synths, into a big, industrial cacophony unlike anything the band have put to record thus far – yet it feels right at home. The music of Code Orange is as much about feeling and attitude as it is about sticking to one particular sound, so whilst you could loosely call them a hardcore band, mood is always king.
Forever is another triumph for Code Orange, deftly marrying the malignant, downcast sound they turned toward on I Am King with flourishes of insightful variety, continuing their ascent as one of the scene’s most vital contributors. Major label status has not affected their hunger or work ethic, and it’s abundantly clear Code Orange have plenty more to offer.