Hardcore, when stripped of the myriad different getups the genre dons, is fundamentally a young person’s game. Hardcore is virtually nothing without the anger of adolescents fueling it, which is something occasionally forgotten as the genre (and its constituents) age. And then, a band like Code Orange Kids — a Pittsburgh four-piece with an average age of 18 (at the time of their signing) — is plucked from the basement show and VFW hall proving grounds to unleash a jarring reminder of what makes hardcore so vital upon those who may have forgotten.
In this instance, Code Orange Kids were hand-selected by an elder statesmen of the genre and tastemaker extraordinaire, Converge frontman/Deathwish owner, Jacob Bannon. As is frequently the case with Deathwish releases, the group’s debut full-length was reared at Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou’s GodCity Studios. The resulting album is a dive into abyssal depths, lined with chaotic passages of rage, dark ambient abstractions, and the grief-riddled howls of people viewing the world via the amplification of an 18 year old’s emotions. While three of the four band members provide the screaming bursts of lyrics — sometimes in unison — guitarist/vocalist Reba Meyers’ cutting screech is particularly unsettling, especially through the lo-fi filtration Ballou has applied to it.Where a Cannibal Corpse record could be compared to the Saw films in its blatant approach, Code Orange Kids’ debut has more in common with the work of Gaspar Noe’ and David Lynch, in which the emotional weight is carried equally by the environments and the experimental nature of the art as it is by the content itself.
At times, the record nods at the earlier work of their handlers in Converge (“Around My Neck//On My Head”), alternating between volleys of razor-edged guitars, drums being beaten into rhythmic slavery, and surreal atmospheric soundscapes that speak to sorrow rather than anger, best exemplified by the trifecta of “Liars // Trudge”, “Colors (Into Nothing)”, and “Nothing (The Rat)”. The three tracks are best taken as one, a triptych that enters as a spitting ball of grind-infused fury before morphing into what can be described as a the darkest shoegaze moment and exiting in a tantrum of hardcore heft. These three tracks are worth the price of admission alone here, but if the album is a sign of things to come, Deathwish has yet again located and presented the best in artistically relevant heavy music.
Essential Tracks: “Flowermouth (The Leech)”, “Liars//Trudge”, and “Nothing (The Rat)”