#50. Code Orange, "Forever"
I had no idea what was awaiting me when I first scrolled down on the article detailing Rolling Stone’s list of the 50 best (according to them) albums of 2017. I listened to a bit of the podcast where the writers discussed the list, but their conversation bounced from album to album in no particular order, and I didn’t finish the episode anyway.
One of the things that excites me about this project is that I have no clue what’s coming. I got kind of out of the popular music scene this year, so beyond Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.,” which I couldn’t have escaped knowing about if I’d wanted to, I couldn’t even put in an educated guess as to what was going to be on this list.
Cue my first album of this endeavor: “Forever” by Code Orange. I didn’t know anything about Code Orange or what kind of music they/she/he make, but the album cover - all black and grey except the words and the blood spilling from the mouth of the person being choked - led me to believe I might be in for some heavy fucking death metal. I was really hoping I was right.
My first voluntary experience with heavy metal was over a year ago in October. I’d just gone to my first really hard dubstep show, Boo! Fest, in Dallas. Before that, the most intense EDM show I’d ever gone to was Porter Robinson & Madeon at Austin City Limits, which, if you listen to electronic music you’re laughing at me right now because Porter is definitely not “hard” in the same sense we’re talking about right now, but he does pound you repeatedly in the face until you don't remember who you are, so.
But Boo! Fest wasn’t like that. Not at all. Boo! Fest was my first Snails show. It was loud and gritty and overwhelming and there were mosh pits and people throwin’ elbows all over the damn place. Bass crunched through me like the deep echo of someone opening the loudest bag of chips known to man inside my chest. The melodies vibrated over my arms and legs like an army of slimy tarantulas with velcro on their feet. It was fucking weird. And also awesome. At some point it all became too much for me and I had to escape with Cameron behind the sound booth.
The following week, I sat at my desk at work, anxious about I didn’t know what. I kept thinking about Boo and that music I’d never heard before and wondering if I liked it or not. I sat on the toilet hunched over my phone, taking extra long bathroom breaks just so I could watch my Snap stories from Snails’ set over and over without anyone seeing. I felt like I could explode with pent-up energy, and I scrolled through Apple music trying to find something I could listen to that would help me feel balanced without standing up, turning my desk over, and roaring at all my coworkers.
And that was when I found death metal. It was perfect. The grinding guitars and relentless drumming and hardcore scream-singing gave me something external to attach my frustrations to and made me feel at peace.
Listening to “Forever” by Code Orange was that, but in a whole cohesive work that set the atmosphere better than most albums I’ve heard. The songs are hard and heavy, but the album takes its time beautifully, with plenty of dark, instrumental pauses that make you feel excited but scared for whatever’s coming next, right before they slam you in the face with some axe-murder guitar and more screaming. And somehow, the orchestrated chaos feels peaceful.
VERDICT: Anyone who likes more aggressive music could appreciate this album, even if you don’t love death metal, just for its cohesiveness as an album and Code Orange’s perfect musical execution. It’s a work of art, and you might not go to this museum every day, but when you’re in the mood you’ll appreciate it.
GREAT FOR: A haunted house where you get chased! Or to play when you’re trying to convince your friends of the merits of death metal.