(Wil Cifer wrote this review of the new album by Code Orange, which was released on January 13 by Roadrunner.)
The kids are all grown up now, so welcome to what could become 2017’s equivalent of You Will Never Be One of Us. This album shows a band going from a more post-hardcore sound to refining themselves into a snarling machine.
It’s also worth mentioning before we dig into the nitty-gritty of Forever that the guitar tone on this rather well-produced album is mean as fuck. Gone is the reckless punk attitude, replaced with very precise execution, and the syncopation is ridiculous more often than not. After the opener you are ready for whatever they are going to throw at you, so to my ears it did not feel jarring.
The songs all clock in close to the three-minute mark. “Real” goes south by incorporating an almost rapped verse to break off from; otherwise it’s slick metalcore. Things slow greatly to allow some breathing room for the sung female vocals that appear in “Bleeding In the Blur”. There is a more noticeable industrial undercurrent to the mega-heavy groove of “The Mud” . Layered vocals help to provide a melodic touch.
My general rule with heavy music is that cool riffs alone don’t make good songs. These kids prove that it’s indeed the smarts that weave riffs together which are the key to success . This makes them almost like a rough version of Meshuggah for hardcore kids on “The New Reality”, though the odd time signatures this song works off might not capture the taught groove in order to live up to the bar they have already raised for themselves.
Even at their most formulaic they are still a few steps ahead of the game . “Spy” finds them falling into similar murky waters, relying more on just being heavy. They redeem themselves with the more Helmet-like “Ugly”. “No One is Untouchable” is not bad, it just doesn’t hook me in as tightly as the songs on the first half of the album; it begins to sound like they are trying too hard.
The title track is darker, with some of the song’s more atmospheric touches deviating from the formula that wants to develop around the harder songs at this juncture in the album.
Forever comes to a rather weird and somewhat unsettling end. Of the last two songs, “The Hurt Goes On” is more of an interlude, while “Dream2” is more of an actual song — and a very melodic one when you consider it in the context of the album as a whole.
While Forever has its share of faults, when it gets it right, it really delivers. I guess I shall see how it grows on me. What’s plain is that these guys have really matured, and Forever has earned its spot in the competitive landscape of gb’s that is my iPod. They even have me considering what this might sound like onstage, and if you can rock hard enough to inspire me to leave the comfort of my couch, you have done something.