Code Orange‘s album ‘I Am King‘ really split opinions here at PlanetMosh. Some of us enjoyed it while others hated and just didn’t “get it”. So instead of picking a side we let one reviewer from each camp lay down their case for the album. What side are you on?
The Yea side: (review by Heather Fitsell)
Starting out with on a release review from a band I do not know, I like to do some background research. With Code Orange I find
myself, before listening, a little confused as to what type of band musically they are. The press release for their new album I Am King describes Code Orange as punk, their Wikipedia profile describes them as metalcore initially, but talks of changes in the band line up leading Code Orange to, in more recent years, describe themselves as doomy, abrasive hardcore punk. Suffice to say there is a whole lot of something going on and only one way to find out.
A somewhat spaceagey opening 12 seconds of title track I Am King (when you momentarily wonder if the stream is somehow skipping) leads to an explosion of distorted sound and heavy chords. The vocals start with a ghost like spoken word, which unfortunately seems rather lost, I cannot tell what is being said, and it is rather vacant in the mix. When the main vocals kick in at 1:24 the level is better, but unfortunately I find them still somewhat lost behind the melting pot of sound that forms this opening track.
Slowburn is musically more appealing to my ears, as the song structure is less experimental and disjointed than its predecessor, filled with heavy guitar chords. It is not without its use of different sounds, but it works well.
The driving musical onslaught on our ears is given a slight rest with former single Dreams of Intertia and although I can work out some of the vocals, they remain for me at least, not very clear in the mix and personally I think that is important. It however has the eerie feeling of the past of Salem, Massachusetts where it was produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou.
It is back to the propulsive sound of Slowburn on Unclean Spirit and this continues through the next few tracks including single My World, drawing on influences from thrash metal, interspersed with an array of tempo changes, which is a common theme throughout the album. My World is perhaps the most commercial sounding of the songs on the album, for this market and its use as an early single is a clever, or one might say sensible one. It does what a single should do, it draws the listener to an album, hopefully gets them to buy it and discover more.
Starve is a bit of an odd ball for me, the choral type vocals don’t, I feel, really fit with the sound. I nevertheless, like the concept of juxtaposition of using an ethereal female vocal, I just don’t feel that the right one was chosen for this song.
There are amid the grating sounds of feedback, some brief nice moments of guitar work in Thinners of the Heard as the exploration of new sounds and ideas continue and credit has to go to Code Orange for deciding to explore new ideas, however the debate will rage amongst the bands fans as to whether this works or not.
In an interview with Ibodi Howl, drummer and vocalist Jami Morgan said that he felt that “a lot of the heavier parts are heavier and sometimes more obvious.” In that statement he is not wrong, but I feel that this is at the expense of his own vocals.
For me personally, I find I am still a little unsure as to where to put Code Orange musically. With their testing of new ideas picking up on an array of different influences, there are good elements and experimental ideas to the record that I would like to have been built on further, rather than having quite so much dischord, perhaps that will come in a future release. Like the traffic of London Code Orange’s I Am King is a cacophony of sound.
Rating : 3/5
The Nay side: (review by Darragh O’Connor)
The latest offering from the sludge metalcore band Code Orange does nothing for me. I don’t get the sludge metal genre, thus I don’t get this! Like, at all! It has flashes where I like bits of it. But in my opinion, it’s a total mess. I guess that’s the point of sludge metal? Someone tell me in the comments below.
The production sounds like they poorly recorded a rehearsal set on their phone and then put it through Pro Tools. The vocals are the pits. The bass sounds unlike a bass and the guitars are just annoying.“Alone In A Room” is four minutes of nonsensical noise. But at least it’s in time and tune which is good. I’ve no idea what it’s about. That can be said for most of this album. Literally, is this meant to be the point of the record to be awful?
There is way too much of the “spooky” noise and a lot of the songs sound the same. In a word, “I Am King” is tiresome. The middle of the album sounds like one long, boring, annoying song. This runs from “Unclean Spirit” to “My World”. “Starve” nearly breaks this monotone but drops back into weird choral vocals and bad screaming. It does have a cool crunchy guitar part in the middle of the song. Those vocals were a bad choice, guys. “Your Body Is Ready” is more random noise for the sake of it!
The final track “Mercy” is the most aptly named thing ever. Mercifully the noise stopped and the album ended.
Okay, if you like this refuse then it’s for you. But to my tastes, this is one for the bin. There is no “art” nor “music” here. Unless, the point was to be a terrible waste of time. In that case, they were successful. Otherwise, avoid this like you owe it money! It literally sounds like they are taking the piss. My friend and I recorded something like this in a day before as a joke. It’s noise for the sake of it. I hate it! This is the worst thing that I have ever heard in a very long time.
“I Am King” is released September 2nd via Deathwish Records.
I Am King
Dreams In Inertia
Alone In A Room
Your Body Is Ready…
Thinners Of The Herd
Eric Balderose – Guitar, Vocals
Reba Meyers –Guitar, Vocals
Jami Morgan – Drums, Vocals
Joe Goldman – Bass