Code Orange - Underneath
Mar 17, 2020 (updated Mar 23, 2020)
Code Orange is going full WWEcore... and it has potential!

In spite of a recent popular and commercial conception that is sometimes irritating, Code Orange is basically an experimental metalcore band. Dressed in layers of technical magic and thunderous and violent harmonies, it is the bone structure of a band that thinks outside the existing parameters, outside of what is allowed in the hardcore universe. After "Forever" in 2017, the last three years have seen the band experience a meteoric rise. What was being prepared at the time aesthetically and sonically represents an almost complete new beginning, this new experience remains faithful to the shock and greyness of the previous works but is boldly incorporating experimental electronic and nu-metal elements.

The skeleton of the band's third album, 'Underneath', is aesthetically fractured, its sound developing in a way that is both disquieting and striking. "(deeperthanbefore)" is mostly a style guide composed of recurring samples, while remaining deeply evocative of Trent Reznor's early industrial efforts, with muffled whispers and flat, deaf atonal stretches ending in what could be called a real leap of fear into fear. A key single, "Swallowing the Rabbit Whole", with his agile and stiff, angular guitar work, with stunning finger placements that don't just look cool - it's a necessary demonstration of the strength and complexity of the immersive sound wall. The single, like almost the entire album, is supported by a production of extreme precision, with inverted and mirror-played passages, unexpected pauses, frenetic and heavy euphoria. The break is particularly fiery, with a somewhat kitsch electronic and a double kick drum coming out of nowhere, while a lightning bass contorts itself, it's far from being new in its concept, but it's the outpourings that make it so unique.

In "Underneath", a lot of attention is also paid to rhythm and cadence, as shown in "In Fear", whose central groove benefits from a clear, slightly irritating vocals and is then associated with machine gun attacks and angry shouts as we like. Because yes, there are many more moments of clean vocals here than before, which marks a new era for Code Orange, an evolution that risks dividing the most hardcore fans. That doesn't always work in their favour. "Sulfur Soundin", has a clear voice too clean that does not highlight the talents of the band. There may be a potential for their future, but for the moment the band flirts with the ease of pop and doesn't fuse the two styles very well. What appears on the cleanest tracks throughout the album, however, hopefully represents the foundation for stronger explorations in the future. The return to violence is clear with a "Cold Metal Place" in which the band integrates abrupt tempo changes and a purely raw second half. This is the sign that the album embraces both the principles of hardcore and the passive familiarity of the genre while evoking explosions of experimental energy to practice necromancy on the sad corpse of the genre thus annihilated. It's an interesting approach, even if the approach, the form sometimes comes before the compositions, the substance.

It's even harder for our eardrums with "Erasure Scan" which can be seen as an ode to thrash metal, giving up the coarser and less agile style of hardcore for something much more nuanced and intruding with overwhelming and daring clashes between the instruments, cascading into pure hellish chaos. Sharp changes in tempo give rise to a long decomposition with shifting necks and sharp cymbal accents. It's a pity that the overdose of glitch effects and keyboards that are embedded in the whole metallic mess makes us grind our teeth. A two-minute nightmare of pain and percussive brilliance. The closing track is a fitting conclusion, highlighting almost everything Code Orange brought during their career and especially the aesthetic trends emerging from this album. There are as many clean vocals as there are wild barks, manic and spastic crises of hardcore tinged with industrial, furious and unaltered breakdowns - it's all there. A real coda for an album that wildly hesitates between megalomaniacal metalcore and tasteless pop metal.

"Underneath" is an aural horror movie, sometimes easy and predictable, sometimes purely visceral and heartbreaking. It forces you to dwell on textures, electronic syncopations with muffled breaths and furious screams. Although the flaws are still numerous, this album allows Code Orange to stand out from this new metalcore/nu-metal wave that gives more importance to style and textures than to the compositions themselves. Heir of a new generation of hardcore and carving out a bright future for itself, Code Orange remains a real force of nature, a violent cyclone that takes everyone on its overheated passage.

Best tracks: "Underneath", "Last Ones Left", "Erasure Scan", "Back Inside the Glass", "Swallowing the Rabbit Whole", "You and You Alone".

Worst track: "The Easy Way"
WhatTheFunk's Tags
1 Comment
Mar 18, 2020
My favorite WWEcore song is the Mr. Ass theme song.
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