Album Review: Code Orange – Forever

By Eli Shively, General Manager

[Roadrunner; 2017]

Rating: 7.5/10

Key Tracks: “Forever,” “Bleeding In The Blur”

If Turnstile’s mastery of bouncy power chord grooves and neo-P.M.A. persona have made them the “good guys” of the current hardcore landscape, Pittsburgh’s Code Orange are its snarling, brash heel characters — many fans of the genre love to hate them, but their ability to make innovative heavy music is undeniable and has kept them relevant in the scene for almost half a decade.

Their latest, Forever, has no shortage of the overblown sense of personality and viral marketing hoopla that they’ve become known for over the past few years. However, looking past all that (which is admittedly easier said than done) it becomes pretty clear that Code Orange can certainly put their panic chords where their mouths are. Not only does Forever have the kind of unbridled guts and passion that makes good hardcore records addictive, but it ties it together with a sense of musicality that many bands choose to outright ignore.

This becomes immediately apparent on the opening title track, an in-your-face circle pit anthem that serves as the record’s rallying cry. It’s not that simple, though — the time signature-defying sludge from which the song takes shape, the brief silent pauses between different sections, and the interplay between different vocal styles throughout suggest that a sense of deep, thoughtful construction lurks beneath the surface. Code Orange knows exactly what they’re doing, hammering hardcore songs out bit by bit, using waves of crushing guitar tones as their anvil and a seemingly endless supply of aggression for heat.

The instrumental variety here is pretty powerful as well. “Bleeding In The Blur” is genuinely catchy power grunge while “Ugly” adds a tinge of nü metal to the mix, not to mention the industrial electronic edge provided throughout the record by guitarist Eric Balderose. The only stumbling block in terms of Forever being a solid, satisfying listen all the way through is the eye roll-inducing “Hurt Goes On” — lines like “Mentally / I want to hurt you mentally” were probably intended to seem dark and menacing, but their plainspoken delivery and general corniness achieves the opposite effect.

However, that doesn’t take away much from the fact that Code Orange have made a very good hardcore record with Forever, quite possibly the best we’ll see in 2017. Polished, sharp, varied and packed with just the right amount of oomph, Forever is a treat if you ignore the spectacle.

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