Code Orange are the nu-metal messiah you didn’t know you were waiting for.
The power of youth in the Age Of Information, at least creatively speaking, is to gaze upon all that came before you with a fresh perspective and no emotional baggage of what anything from the past signified at the time of its making. Luckily for us, Code Orange stumbled upon the forgotten musical empire of 90’s alt-metal, long reduced to rubble, and picked fine diamonds from amongst the rough of hammy rap verses and faux goth choruses littering the blighted landscape to create a concise and diverse album that masterfully blends the murky gloom of Fear Factory‘s melodic side and absurd beatdown riffs that would make Bulldozer proud. I declare Forever to be 2017’s first great hardcore record – let’s dive into why.
Forever comes out of the gate strong on its title track with that badass pick scrape riff that Gojira forgot to put on their last record, framed with a delicious HM-2 muddiness and a perfect floor punching tempo. (Riff in question starts at 0:26)
The track keeps rolling with over-the-top beatdown riffs that feel cartoonishly primal while actually being very cleverly written. This is a major key to Code Orange’s success – disjointed song structures and an extra beat here and there keep you on your toes so you never see the steamroller coming until it’s too late to tell yourself you’re not “supposed” to like music like this.
The very next track “Kill The Creator” keeps the freight train rolling with a d-beat pace and the most refined use yet of one of their definitive songwriting tricks, a guitar sample that cuts out to absolute silence at regular intervals. (Starts @ 1:54)
Three tracks in, now that Code Orange has assured us they are still hardcore kids that know how to write obscenely heavy mosh riffs, the 90’s alt-metal and industrial influence starts to creep in. “Real”, again, sounds like an especially heavy Gojira song run through a nu-metal filter to play up semitone guitar melodies before settling into a brooding industrial stomp. It has one of the cringiest mosh call-outs in recent memory (“This is real now, motherfucker!”) but that double kick riff from the beginning of the track goes so fucking hard that I can’t be too mad about it.
Shit gets REAL WEIRD with the full on power ballad of “Bleeding In The Blur”, four straight minutes of catchy singing over melodic guitar lines and even replete with a shameless guitar solo. There is no mosh in this track, only feels. FFO Breaking Benjamin, Seether, and, uh, Taproot or some shit?
For more beatdown mosh, jam “The New Reality” and “Spy“. For more Nine Inch Nails inspired alt-metal goodness, Give “Ugly“, “Hurt Goes On“, and “dream2” a spin. “dream2” in particular leaves me feeling utterly empty the way the best Alice in Chains and NIN tracks do. The abrupt finish brings this freight train of a record to a close in classic Code Orange “fuck you” fashion.
I guarantee this record will inspire a horde of budding hardcore kids to get into 90’s metal and do an absolute hack job of incorporating it into their sound, but at least we’ll have Forever to look to as an example of how to take the unloved and make it shine. This record is both nostalgic and refreshing, immaculately composed as a complete unit. Distractingly awful self-aggrandizing lyrics are the only reason that I can’t in good conscience give full marks to what is otherwise such a smart and pummeling record. LONG LIVE CODE ORANGE.