Pittsburgh metalcore heavyweights Code Orange set an incredibly high standard with their breakout LP I Am King, yet with their latest offering, Forever, they've surpassed themselves on multiple fronts. By incorporating unconventional dynamics, sounds and structuring, the band have pushed their sound to new and interesting places.
One of the techniques used most frequently here is the abrupt, jarring transitions between verses and riffs, a technique that harkens back to their debut, Love Is Love/Return to Dust. Where some might see the lack of conventional transitions as a detriment and a mark of sloppiness, a closer looks reveals that it's the result of meticulous effort. Songs like "The Mud" and "Real" never let the listener get too comfortable with a single riff, almost forcing them to pay attention as the song dips into moments of drastic contrast, often using pulsing synths and samples amidst the chaos of furious guitar work.
Code Orange find a balance across the entire record though, employing the technique relatively sparingly so that it never comes across as gimmicky. Instead, it continually catches listeners off-guard, adding to the atmosphere of eerie discomfort the band already drum up with things like pitch-shifted vocal samples, glitched-out effects and dissonant layers of screeching noise.
Keeping the record dynamic, the four-piece experiment with Adventures-esque song structuring on tracks like "Bleeding in the Blur" and "Ugly," the former carried by hook laden alt-rock choruses and making excellent use of Reba Meyers' singing voice. Songs like these fill the gaps between the most emphatic moments on Forever, where Code Orange do what they are known best for: building their songs to massive peaks before dropping into absolutely unholy, bone-snapping breakdowns.
These moments never feel heavy for the sake of it, serving instead as massive payoffs after the tension the band builds on songs like "No One Is Untouchable" and the title track. Code Orange remain diverse even in the way they approach their heavier sounds, mining tasteful nu-metal-isms on the swinging opening riff of "Spy" and the latter half of the mostly electronic "Hurt Goes On."
With Forever, Code Orange have put together a record that few others in the genre would have the nerve to attempt making, and have found a number of ways to stay engaging across the set without losing any of their previous weight or momentum. (Roadrunner)