Riding into 2017 on a horse called hype are Code Orange (formerly Code Orange Kids) freshly signed to RoadRunner Records and with a new album called Forever. The last time so many people were falling over themselves to praise an album so heavily, it was Gojira and the album was ‘Magma’. Not that hype across the board acclaim is a bad thing… as long as it is justified and can be backed up by the album in question.
I will admit this is the first time I have ever listened to Code Orange, and I’m not sure if the hype was a help or a hindrance to me, as it gave me a lot of preconceived notions about how good this record was going to be. I can honestly say though, this album is like living through the events of Jacobs Ladder if it was directed by David Lynch. This album is about as subtle as being hit in the face with a brick and then having your attacker stand on your neck every time you try and get back up. It’s relentless and exhausting listen… but in the best way possible!
This is a hardcore record, that much is for sure. But it’s also so much more than that too. You will know within the first 3 songs whether you will like this album or not, even though they fly by like a swift right hook. ‘Forever’ and ‘Kill the Creator’ both offer an indication of the level of aggression that is on display here; but then once you have started to settle and get your head around things, the album morphs into something else. The single: ‘Bleeding in the Blur’ hits and brings in the 90s grunge era with it, sounding like the bastard love child of Alice In Chains and the darkest parts of Soundgarden, it’s so wildly unexpected, that it takes your brain about 30 seconds to readjust to something else that isn’t completely punishing. But then as quickly as the album has jacknifed it changes again, diverting back to brutal, punishing, hardcore, punctuated by electronica, and again on ‘Ugly’ another bash with grungier sounds.
Forever is a short, sharp, terrifyingly dark record that comes and goes in what seems like a violent blur, but like all the best art that is this dark in nature the real merit lies in that fact that it will haunt you long after you have finished listening; trying to get your head around what you have just heard, whether or not you want to put yourself through it again, and if so why? It’s a testament also to just how well crafted it is, that it can be so unflinching in its approach, but also so universally embraced by media and fans alike. And while I don’t necessarily agree that it is the be all and end all that some people are making it out to be, I do think it is a well-made slab of music, made by a band that seems intent on playing by their own rules… and one I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley any time soon.