Chuck Schuldiner Project

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Code Orange - I Am King

Code Orange (Kids) have been one of my favorite bands for the past few months, so when I actually got in touch with Deathwish Inc and received my promo stream for I Am King (and subsequently violated a few copyright laws to rip the audio), I was beyond ecstatic.  I had been eagerly anticipating their new material by playing the three singles that had been released thus far on repeat, learning every nuance of My World's cult beatdown extravaganza while pretending I knew the lyrics and screaming them into an imaginary microphone.  I'll admit, it isn't the most masculine way to show your excitement for a hardcore release, but honestly, who gives a fuck?

Code Orange sure don't.

The most unique thing about this album is its ability to use the lulls in ferocity to make the release as a whole feel heavier than their past endeavors.  Though everything up until this point has still been unrelentingly heavy, even the instrumental passages in Love Is Love//Return To Dust felt disjointed and unimportant in the scope of the album as a whole.  I Am King, on the other hand, has proven to have a purpose to each of its many twists and turns, making this the most triumphant release of Code Orange's 6 year career.

What makes this album so successful is the decision to (somewhat) disregard previous releases.  Sure, Code Orange is and always will be a hardcore punk band at heart, but by pushing the envelope with tracks such as Dreams In Inertia, Starve, and Your Body Is Ready, the band has shown that they refuse to be pigeonholed, leaning instead towards a stylistic development that showcases their inability to comply with set parameters.  Although the album includes a lot of atmospheric little nuggets, what Code Orange have decided to do was use them as a tool to shape the feel of the record rather than throw shit at the wall and see what sticks.  The finesse with which their development was handled shows that the band have a sort of natural inclination towards what works and what doesn't, and have the restraint to see it through.

That's not to say that there aren't plenty of songs to break faces to - quite the contrary, this album is chock full of skull-crushers, including some of the spacier songs.  The title track - which neatly embodies the whole album through spoken word passages, electronic effects, and a disgustingly satisfying breakdown - creates enough discord by itself to both start and end a live set.  Unclean Spirit has enough blast beats in its rip-roaring hardcore punk passages to make even a staunch metalhead crack a smile, and My World has a horribly exciting dedication to making sure we know exactly how fucking heavy it is.

Although there are plenty of standout tracks, an album is not complete without some sort of unifying factor.  Luckily, Code Orange don't wander too far from their roots, grounding themselves in dirty, old-fashioned hardcore with just a few more bells and whistles.  The decision to use the same intermittent noise segment in both the beginning of I Am King and the end of Mercy makes the subtle suggestion that the album is destined to repeat forever, and I myself am more than happy to indulge them in their crass little hint.

In the time since Code Orange (Kids) released Love Is Love//Return To Dust, the hardcore quartet have toured incessantly, not letting their free time go to waste.  When not on a pre-billed stage, they could be found at a hastily thrown together aftershow in a willing party's basement, causing the makeshift venue's structural deterioration to hasten with their unrelenting hardcore punk mayhem-fest.  The band must have used these experiences to their advantage, because their upcoming release, I Am King, showcases a much more mature and focused sound and ultimately validates the decision to drop the "Kids" from their moniker.

Standout Tracks: I Am King, Dreams In Inertia, Unclean Spirit, My World, Your Body Is Ready, Bind You

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