WORDS: JOSH MARKARIAN
The machine that never dies. Code Orange has seen many manifestations. Now on their third “rebirth” or album cycle, they are back more aggressive and unstoppable than ever. If I AM King was “a rebirth of mindset” and FOREVER was “driven by revenge, bitterness and resentment”, then UNDERNEATH is deep cutting self reflection in a “noisy, digitally overbearing and over crowded society”. Underneath brings concepts from the previous two records full circle “that’s kind of what this record is, one’s journey in the arch of the three.” adds Jami Morgan.
“WE JUST TAKE CREATIVE FREEDOM AND WE DON’T CARE.”
Code Orange refuses to confine to boundaries, setting the new gold standard for artistic immersion and the influence heavy music has on pop culture. For them, creation goes beyond the surface level. Morgan notes “that’s just what we like, that’s what i’m interested in. I like listening to bands just for the fun of it. But something I’m fully invested in always has a full picture”. Some people question what they can and can’t do creatively, feeling trapped in the constraints of being labeled but for them “we just take creative freedom we don’t care. We come from hardcore and that has completely shaped ourselves ethically and the decisions that we still make to this day”.
They have had to fight for every inch to get to where they are today, tearing away molds of past lives. They live and breathe Code Orange. It is a mindset “we were all born and bred together, so we all have had this for so long I don’t know another reality. This is all we have”. There is an integrity to it, for them you don’t clock in and out and it is evident. Listening to Underneath is the same as submerging into the alternative universe that Code Orange lives in. Their world pulls you in with the 3D visuals of the bands “character, scarred in rituals and burned up, now trapped in this glass shell of perception and technology” helplessly lost.
“THIS IS THE WAY WE’VE BEEN BRED TO EXPRESS EMOTION.”
The constant feeling of having to fight for integrity has always been a common theme for Code Orange, that fight and energy comes out both in the record and live. When you see them live there are band members ripping themselves open on stage but there is someone in the crowd doing just as much damage. But it is more chaotic than malicious “this is the way we’ve been bred to express emotion”. While against real violence “expressing ourselves the way we do and the community we come from that’s a part of it and [they’re] fine with it.”
There has always been a discussion of pain within their music. With this record that pain has taken on a new form, a sense of confusion and disruption from an uninspired digitally driven world. But the record isn’t about technology per say in the way of machines world taking over and imposing on us which was a rising theme in the 90’s. “It’s more the perspective of what it’s turned us into as human beings and just the way we act and talk and look at eachother. How deep under we are in ways.”
But there is more to the intimidating exterior than let on from the visually depictive album art of Underneath and high energy live shows. Every decision has been carefully planned and crafted. The world building around Underneath proved this true despite being a “very fine line and difficult to achieve” because they won’t “bend on the art side”. Even the vinyl pressings come with 3D lenticular covers (a technique that is few and far between to create depth in a printed image).
In the end they are able to find a level of grounding through a common purpose, Code Orange.
UNDERNEATH IS OUT NOW VIA ROADRUNNER RECORDS.