One of the most boundary-vaulting records in recent memory, Pittsburgh-based wrecking crew Code Orange delivered a uniquely breathless experience with 2017’s Forever. Already hailed as the last word in forward-thinking, 21st Century hardcore and resolutely punk in both aesthetic and spirit, the band’s third full-length managed to be both a rage rush of spittle-flecked ultra-violence and a flagrant example of barefaced ambition and lust for blueprint mangling, with as much owed to the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Killing Joke, Neurosis, eighties horror synth and prime-era Seattle grunge to the habitual influences of Madball or Converge.
Indeed, even with the recent explosion of pummelling metallic hardcore beginning to take an international stranglehold, Code Orange still feel light-years ahead of the new breed. Rousing alt rock future classic ‘Bleeding In The Blur’, ‘Spy’s ugly electronic squall and Eyehategod sludge and the haunting, PJ Harvey-esque ‘Dream2’ all take us to new and fascinating places that no hardcore band before or since has dared to explore, and even the more straightforward cuts, such as the title-track’s effusive opening statement, shatter jaws with the sort of impact and indeed brevity that few of their peers could muster. Just check out ‘Kill The Creator’, two-and-a-half minutes of panic-stricken brutality where tempos are juggled like rusty chainsaws and insistent breakdowns leave us a bloodied and broken mess.
Having already promised to push things even further next time around, just how Code Orange look to surpass Forever is anyone’s guess, yet we can be sure that album number four will not see this enterprising five-piece standing still. Given the record’s still zeitgeist-defining spirit however, it is a safe bet that even if Code Orange never released a single second of new music from here on out, there would be little to compete with this collection of tracks in terms of ingenuity or dynamic gumption. Forever is already a nailed on modern classic.