I’m not sure the right words exist to describe Code Orange; post-hardcore punk maybe? They twist the boundaries of dissonance, pulverising your weak human body with sound. Underneath is their 2020 release. It wants to hurt you.
Release Date: March 13th 2020
Label: Roadrunner Records
Formats: CD / LP / Digital
The first single Underneath was a bit underwhelming. It sounded like something from a Nine Inch Nails album, industrial with a chanting chorus and as nice as that may be, it’s not what you want from a Code Orange record. When you queue up a Code Orange album you want it to punish you. It needs to hurt. Luckily, the first track on the album does exactly that. The punishing piano work of Eric “Shade” Balderose leads us into the epic brutality we’ve come to demand. Difficult to consume, unnerving, stop/start and dripping with horror.
There’s a danger with a band like Code Orange that the pressure of success causes them to push the envelope of aggression and dissonance too far. The need to offend outweighing creativity. Thirty seconds into the second track In Fear and it’s clear that creativity is alive and well. Nestled within this maelstrom of chaos and anger are some utterly massive riffs and even gentle moments that bring the violent guitar work into stark contrast.
You and You Alone brings that heavy guitar work to the forefront, uneven, unnerving yet absolutely compelling. Cold.Metal.Place has almost Slipknot-like swirling riffs that Code Orange mangle with industrial digital dissonance that leaves you feeling like your insides have been rearranged. The track morphs into Sulfur Surrounding, which begins with the harrowing voice of a child saying “Let’s take a good look at you.” The gentle guitar work is a brief respite from the brutality.
As Code Orange albums go it’s up there with the best. The production is exquisite and the content is as good as anything they’ve produced before. Maybe a little less shocking than when they burst onto the scene but we know what to expect from them now so that’s almost inevitable.
Standouts on the album are Swallowing The Rabbit, the utterly visceral Cold.Metal.Place and the slightly easier to consume The Easy Way. There’s very little filler here though, it’s a soul twisting journey from beginning to end.
When the blue pill or the red pill isn’t enough, just swallow the Rabbit whole…