Code Orange – I am King
Reviewed By: KURE Music Committee
This album very well might be the heaviest thing put out this year, and shows that Code Orange means it when they say “I am King”. It hits hard from the very beginning and does not let up until the very last second. Code Orange, previously Code Orange Kids, has been around since 2008 and has put out multiple EPs and an album, Love is Love//Return to Dust in that time. Love is Love was one of the strongest hardcore albums that year, and showed a great potential for the band.
On their new album, I am King, they live up to that hype and show the great growth that years of touring and working together has given them. Every song is punishing and exact, there isn’t a single note that feels out of place on the album. They were also able to move on from being just a hardcore band, and on this album incorporated elements of mathcore (see tracks like I am King and Thinners of the Herd), noise (Starve and My World), and experimental rock (Dreams in Inertia and Bind You). Incorporating these elements into the standard hardcore methodology helped this album to separate itself from the numerous hardcore groups appearing in the underground scene and keeps the album a consistent and refreshing listen.
On Dreams in Inertia, one of the most interesting songs on the album, they are able to create a grungy, sludge metal track that sounds like nothing the band has done before, yet still seems perfectly at home in the album. Despite all of the variations and new sounds they experiment with, the album at its essence is an angry, brutal hardcore album in which they assert themselves as one of the best bands in the genre right now. Tracks like Slowburn, Thinners of the Herd, and My World feature the beat downs that fans of bands like Nails and Converge are going to be instantly familiar with. On songs like I am King, Starve, and Your Body is Ready, the band experiments with noise and ambience that really sets the album apart from other hardcore albums put out recently.
The album was produced by Kurt Ballou, of Converge fame, who has done albums for Nails, Gaza, All Pigs Must Die, and Doomriders. He is able to bring an expert touch to the album that allows it to really shine. This is one of his best sounding productions, everything feels in place and nothing gets covered. It is far too often that everything is mixed into one sludgy mess on hardcore albums, yet on I am King each instrument is clear and distinctive. The fantastic production is something that has come to be expected from Kurt Ballou, yet its effect on this album can’t be overlooked. Without the production, this album’s ingenuity and weight could have been easily lost.
Favorite Songs: Slowburn, Thinners of the Herd, Dreams in Inertia
RIYL: Full of Hell, Nails, Converge, Weekend Nachos