Pittsburgh hardcore outfit Code Orange are back with a Halloween surprise: “Forever,” the lead single from their Roadrunner Records debut of the same name, due in January. “The last record [2014’s I Am King], was ‘We were gonna get our feet at the table,'” vocalist and drummer Jami Morgan says. “Now we’ve got them there – we’re going to flip that shit over.”
Forever captures some of the most punishing noise the band has recorded to date, featuring songs rife with sudden transitions to still-harsher textures. Aside from Morgan’s battle cries cutting through the tracks, frequent intrusions of industrial-strength electronics make the songs feel like they’re being split open from the inside.
“Technology is something that I really appreciate, but being someone who comes from hardcore, metal and punk, you’re fighting it at the same time,” he says. “It’s almost like the bridge between those two ideas.”
The album also shifts to more-melodic passages and an almost serene ambient coda – never losing an inner restlessness – which is exactly the sort of genre estrangement Morgan, guitarist-vocalist Eric Balderose, guitarist-vocalist Reba Meyers and bassist Joe Goldman were hoping for.
“When you feel settled in, I want it to just fuck you again,” Morgan says. “We tried to do it in a more strategic way than when we’d done it in the past. There’s a part in one song where it cuts in kind of like a nightmare, almost like a mental breakdown.” That last statement could be referring to almost any of the album’s 11 cuts, which add to their menace with a mix designed to match a hip-hop record’s ultrasonic peaks.
“When you feel settled in, I want it to just fuck you again,”–Jami Morgan
After the band began gathering ideas for the new album two years ago, writing picked up in 2015. Following yet another relentless tour, Code Orange worked on Forever straight through from the winter of 2015 through to this past summer. They recorded demos with Arthur Rizk (Terrorism, War Hungry) and then re-teamed with Converge’s Kurt Ballou, who also worked on I Am King, and Philadelphia producer Will Yip (Title Fight, Circa Survive) to track the album itself.
“It’s not a flow-y process – it’s pretty painful,” Morgan admits. “Grinding, screaming at each other, and just making it happen. We’ve been friends for so long. Jamming doesn’t work for what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s just pain, whether it’s, like, truly physical, or a little more bizarre. There’s a lot of bands about fun, especially in hardcore. Our band is not about fun. It’s never fun, but it’s rewarding.”
Debuting today, “Forever” is a menacing, thudding reintroduction to Code Orange – who recently were on the road with their heroes Deftones. Directed by Max Moore, the accompanying visuals – depicting a harrowing, cult-like rite with strong satanic overtones – are equally unforgiving.
“Everywhere we’ve turned, we’ve met a lot of ‘You’re not this enough for this, or that enough for that,'” Morgan says of the band’s sense of alienation from various musical scenes. “‘Forever’ opens it up by saying, ‘Fuck you, we’re here. We’re gonna do whatever the fuck we wanna do, and there are no rules.'”