As we approach the end of days ushered in by Cruella de Ville in kitten heels and her fluffy haired partner in bigotry what better way to spend your final breathes than with half an hour of some of the most doom-laden metallic hardcore humankind has to offer? On their third album (and first for Roadrunner), Forever Code Orange serve up the soundtrack to our eventual doom with all the lacerating cruelty of a butcher’s knife through squealing flesh.
Buckle up for the final ride of your life.
Code Orange opens with the distorted threats of some horror movie villain intent on taking you on a trip through a haunted house of torture and pain, Forever sets its stall out early, this isn’t an album for the faint of heart or the easily swayed.
Killer riffs are stopped suddenly giving way to glitchy noise, tempos are treated like a rollercoaster ride at once catapulting you into space before plunging you headlong into a mire of sludge whilst Code Orange’s triple assault vocals from drummer Jami Morgan and guitarists Eric Balderose and Reba Meyers will send you swirling from throat tearing screech to deep foreboding bellow without warning or remote interest in the sanctity of your eardrums.
Check out the appropriately named “The New Reality”, two minutes of absolute mayhem that changes course more times than a Drumpf press spokesmen to get a sense of just how ambitious and stark raving bonkers this album is.
It’s hardly surprising when long term collaborator Kurt Ballou is at the controls again, no stranger to experimentation and confoundment with Converge. His signature is all over the opening three tracks as explosive blasts of metallic hardcore entwine with dissonant noise and industrialised atmospherics. The title track takes so many unexpected U-turns in its 3mins that you’d be forgiven for thinking you were already on track 9 of the album before it’s finished, whilst the immense “Kill The Creator” moves at an insane speed for roughly 20 seconds before serving up all manner of discordant pleasures and finally descending into a brooding, sludgy finish that recalls the latter output of Faith No More for the final half a minute.
The pummelling and aggressive “Real” takes an even more menacing turn into maniacal noise that one imagines is that kind of thing Leatherface slices newly deflowered teens to in his remote Texan hovel.
It’s fucking incredible.
Then, just as you think you can’t be wrong footed any further Reba Meyers takes centre stage for the radio friendly stoner-metal of “Bleeding In The Blur”, an absolute banger that sounds like Alice In Chains fronted by Toni Halliday. Nothing else sounds remotely like it on the rest of Forever but it’s utterly at home amongst the metalcore bluster and nu-metal riffs (more of which later) that make up the other 10 tracks. It’s tune of the year already.
“The Mud” is as dark and grim as a primordial swamp – a barrage of headbanging riffs interspersed with the bleeps and buzzes of a malfunctioning 80s Mac and the swirling sounds of apocalyptic storms, never afraid to wrong foot the listener before returning to another crushing riff it is the album’s terrifying centre piece by which all else is expelled with venomous fury.
90s industrial and nu-metal raises its ugly head on (ahem) “Ugly”, “Spy”, and “No One Is Untouchable” thankfully taking only the best bits of Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein and Korn and moulding them into something fresh and menacing. Perhaps the most straightforward tracks on the album, this trio of retro rockers still have room for a few surprises not least the inclusion of some actual singing on the Downward Spiral aping “Ugly”.
“I want to hurt you mentally”, comes the un-ambiguous threat during the twisted opening to “Hurt Goes On”, a doomy, apocalyptic electro-metal anthem that builds and builds to what promises to be a towering crescendo of derailed clatter before descending back into gloomy atmospherics and morphing into Forever‘s closer “dream2” a swirling closer of Blade Runner-esque rain swept crackle.
As we come to terms with the fucked up situation 2016 has left us in, Code Orange don’t offer up any answers but they do embrace the chaos to provide 2017 with its first unmissable outing.