It can sometimes take years for a band to find a sound that is truly their own; the type of sound that as soon as you hear it, you know who it is. Code Orange have managed it in a relatively short period of time. While they have progressed with each release, their sound is distinctive, unique, and intoxicating. It’s a feat that few bands can honestly say they have achieved, especially when the expectation for Code Orange to deliver on ‘Forever’ was incredibly high.
When the Pittsburgh quartet released their 2014 album, ‘I Am King’, they were billed (including by this writer) as the future of aggressive music. Three years later, the future is now and Code Orange have fulfilled that prophecy. Within seconds of ‘Forever’ exploding into life, the notion that it may not match its predecessor, or that they have “sold out” now they are on a bigger label, is quickly put to bed.
For the most part, ‘Forever’ is a hail of unrelenting aggression. The low-end repetition that serves as the backbone of Code Orange is still there. It has been refined, broken up with high-pitched squeals, frantic drumming, and off-kilter time signatures. Once again, brutality is carried by the triple vocal onslaught of Jami Morgan, Reba Myers, and Eric Balderose.
The intensity of ‘Kill The Creator’ brings their accomplished songwriting to the forefront, while Morgan’s battle cry of “This is real now, motherfucker,” on ‘Real’ leads into a breakdown of monolithic proportions. The looming, bass-driven dirge of ‘Spy’ is vintage Code Orange, and is tailor made for man-mountain bassist Joe Goldman to hurl himself around any stage to.
Yet for all of the chaos that comes with ‘Forever’, there is something far more dynamic in their music, setting them apart from a run of the mill metallic hardcore band. It’s their willingness to experiment outside of the confines of the genre, which let’s face it, is known for being restricting. If there’s a chance to be taken, Code Orange will do it, fearlessly. The hushed-tones of ‘Ugly’, or the industrial glitch of ‘Hurt Goes On’ may come as a surprise to the casual listener, but the die-hard – the thinners of the herd – would expect nothing less from this forward-thinking band.
The most arresting moments on ‘Forever’ come from some of the aforementioned chances. ‘Bleeding In The Blur’ puts the emphasis on Myers impressive, melodic vocal range, over an indie-rock composition ran through an Alice In Chains filter. As different as that, and the haunting slow burn of ‘dream2’ are, it remains cohesive, and in keeping with the over-arching darkness of the album.
Throughout every twist, turn, and curveball, ‘Forever’ is yet another vicious statement of intent. It remains familiar enough to be obvious what band you are listening to, while taking their sound to another level and exposing the reward that comes from daring to be different. As Code Orange rightfully say, this is the new reality.