REVIEW: Code Orange – ‘I Am King’

code orange

Artist: Code Orange
Album: I Am King
Genre: Hardcore
Label: Deathwish Inc.

Earlier this year, Code Orange dropped the ‘Kids’ off somewhere and said, “It’s just us now. Let’s get fucking crazy.”

Not that the band’s 2012 debut, Love is Love // Return to Dust, wasn’t balls to the wall bonkers, but I Am King demonstrates new levels of blatant belligerence and no holds barred intensity from the Pittsburgh-based four-piece, who have clearly matured beyond just a name change. This new release summons a raging, angst-ridden being from within the listener who then, with no regard for the safety of those surrounding them, loses all control and enthusiastically embraces the effects. It’s the musical equivalent of doing every reckless, chaos-inducing thing within your power to earn a five star wanted level in Grand Theft Auto at the end of a stressful work week.

No Boxes. No Boundaries. No Fear. I Am King.

From the album’s cover art to the supporting music videos released thus far, the band has been beefing up the brutality in every way. The record is riddled with deep, drawn-out, crushing chugs and some of the most intense and virtually indecipherable vocals recorded this year. Add to that some truly death and doom metal-inspired moments with blast beats and guttural-guided breakdowns that have likely been inspiring the most calculated of windmills and roundhouse kicks within the pits lucky enough to experience Code Orange’s sets as of late.

Tracks like “My World” and “Mercy” take a slow and steady approach that would ordinarily allow you a respite; a breather from whatever ferocity you had just experienced in the tracks preceding them. Ultimately, though, they ensure that you feel every gut-punch of a guitar chug taking turns successfully knocking the wind out of you with ease. Periodically, the band are gracious enough–if even for just a moment–to allow you to compose yourself…only to then proceed with whatever uncontrollable movements the sounds have provoked from your body. Sections from “Dreams In Inertia,” “Starve,” and the previously mentioned closer, “Mercy,” offer up soaring, atmospheric segments and some of the only real ‘singing’ that you’ll find buried within the 32-minute whole of I Am King. These elements only add to the album’s eerie qualities that shroud its heaviness with an accentuating theme of darkness.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are efforts like “Unclean Spirit” or the fantastically succinct and raucous “Your Body Is Ready…” which hit you full force with a frenetic and unrelenting sense of urgency, and what I’d consider to be technicality within the scope of the predominantly simple-structured hardcore genre. On the surface, most of this album may indeed sound simple and merely chug-laden to a fresh listener, but somewhere in your journey, in the midst of 10-plus complete listens, you start to pick up on obscure nuances within the mix that elevate the overall sound and dynamic. Whether it be a stylistic choice in how the vocals are slightly buried or the way all sound cuts out for a moment to allow a quirky little riff to shine, it all makes I Am King exactly what it became in its final form: one of the most impressively heavy and distinctive albums of 2014.

I challenge all to the 11-track gauntlet that is I Am King. Embrace the change. Godspeed.

SCORE: 8.7/10
Review written by Brian Lion — (Follow him on Twitter)

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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