Code Orange are the future. On previous album Forever, they made a bold statement, fusing hardcore with power electronics to push hardcore into places it’s never been before, even reaching as far as the Grammys. Now, on this new release Underneath, they push things even further.
Eric ‘Shade’ Balderose’s electronics are far more present than ever before, forming the backbone of songs like ‘The Easy Way’ and contorting the riffs of ‘In Fear’. This development, married with the ever-more metallic guitar work thrown out by Reba Meyers and Dom Landolina, the band’s two main guitarists, has built Code Orange’s sound into having a cyborg-like feel, the two elements are that tightly interwoven.
After the first three tracks come out of the traps at pace, the mood of the record shifts towards slower tracks like ‘Who I Am’, and ‘Sulfur Surrounding’, two tracks with genuine mainstream radio potential. ‘Cold Metal Place’ blurs the lines between metal and electronica again, so incredibly seamlessly that it’s hard to tell whether the machine-gun drums are real or not.
Jami Morgan’s role in the band has changed significantly on this release, as he moved from behind the drums to occupy the frontman role. It’s a role he’s taken in his stride, and it’s immediately clear how much more freedom this has given him with vocal phrasings and placement in the songs. On their recent live-streamed show, you’d never have guessed it was his first show fronting a band.
‘Underneath’ sounds like a horror movie and the band have the visuals to match. It only takes one watch of Code Orange’s empty venue livestream to understand everything they stand for. Given the original show was cancelled only 48 hours beforehand, it is astounding that such an outcome was achieved.
It’s a set of circumstances so specific, that had Code Orange’s record been scheduled for release the week before or after, it’s hard to say whether it would have had the impact it has. Coverage in Forbes, GQ, and TIME doesn’t happen to hardcore bands, yet Code Orange prove once again that the rules of hardcore don’t apply to them. The reach of Underneath has been so extensive due to the quality, pure graft, and imagination put into this record, and it’s left Code Orange at the very top of the tree when it comes to forward-thinking metal.
Underneath is out now via Roadrunner Records!