It’s a fascinating time to be in the Code Orange camp. It’s been a little over three years since the bruising Forever stormed the Metallic Hardcore gates and they’re finally releasing the proper follow-up, Underneath (Roadrunner) to a hungry world. And the hype is certainly a factor.
After Forever garnered a Grammy nod and found Code Orange sharing the stage with the likes of Anthrax and Killswitch Engage, Roadrunner must have high hopes and/or a mean marketing push for these young Pennsylvanians. Oh, and that’s without considering the chart splash that their peers in Knocked Loose just enjoyed with A Different Shade of Blue.
So, yes, the hype is certainly real. Real enough that Code Orange will be opening for Slipknot‘s Knotfest Roadshow this Summer. The hype is so strong that Underneath‘s livestreamed album release show was a trending topic on Twitter.
Does Underneath live up to the cacophony and the publicity? Well, if it doesn’t, Code Orange is going out swinging and using every musical tool and influence at their disposal. If you were expecting a Hatebreed-style groove and pummel affair, well then about a third of this album is for you. For everyone else, I say think of it as Code Orange’s version of Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) or Roots. Really interested in experimenting and deeply rewarding to those who are willing to play ball.
Remember on Forever how they took a chance on 1990s-styled alternative jams on the awesome ‘Bleeding in the Blur?’ Well, they’re rolling the dice quite a few times on numbers like ‘Who I Am,’ ‘Sulfur Surrounding,’ and on the immediately catchy choruses of ‘The Easy Way.’ What shouldn’t be a shocker is the sheer influence and abundance of electronics and industrial moments scattered from top to bottom. Using the self-titled track as the lead single worked as an effective harbinger of what’s in store.
Even on the mosh pit bangers like ‘Swallowing the Rabbit Whole’ and ‘Cold.Metal.Place’ the crushing guitar tones and swift kick drums are flanked by cold, but never off-putting digital flourishes.
Is Underneath destined to be divisive? Hell yeah. Is it going to move Code Orange forward into some interesting directions? Absolutely.
8 / 10