When I first discovered Code Orange, they were Code Orange Kids; the brutally passionate, ridiculously abrasive and pissed the fuck off chaotic Hardcore band who had already unleashed three EPs, including the monstrous Cycles, a split with Full of Hell and a full-length album Love is Love // Return to Dust onto the world. I was a huge fan already then. Then, when September 2014 came along, they released their most unique, creative and out there release to date (until Forever this year). I Am King is an album that raised a lot of questions and a little bit of doubt with the slight name change and release of the title-track as it’s first single, for me included. It didn’t sound bad, just different from what we were used to from them. But when I finally got to listen to the album in it’s entirety, it would go on to become not only my favorite album of 2014, surpassing the likes of Triptykon’s Melana Chasmata and At the Gates’ At War With Reality, but one of my favorites period.
What makes this album so unique, much like Acid Bath’s When the Kite String Pops, is it’s blending of so many different elements from so many different genres. Looking for crushing chaotic Hardcore? This album has it in tracks such as the devastating Unclean Spirit, Your Body is Ready, the super vicious Bind You and album closer Mercy. You want thick, grimy Sludge? They have that as well with the title track, Slowburn, My World, Starve and Thinners of the Heard. Hell, if you even want some Shoegaze, that’s even present on here with Dreams in Inertia. You’ll even hear elements of Crust and Death Metal at times. You name it, it’s all here. They take bits and pieces of each of these styles and put them where they fit best and they combine them in such a unique and dark way that it creates something that can’t just be classified as a Hardcore album.
The core style that brought Code Orange Kids to the dance is still present for sure. The devastatingly vicious riffs, and multiple vocal assault between Reba, Jamie and Eric are still very much a thing here and are key components to the broader sound as well. Some may find it disappointing, but it’s not really that much different than the early works. It really wasn’t until Forever where they really started experimenting. In all honesty, I do like Forever, but this one is definitely the better of the two Code Orange (post-”Kids”) albums. The Industrial element that they would add in later kind of overshadows the overall sound and hinders it a little bit. I Am King is where the perfect balance between the old and newer sounds are met and it all just flows beautifully. The style that they create with all these elements combined is very cohesive and doesn’t go allover the place. It’s as precise as it is chaotic and the nihilistic nature of the band’s sound and aesthetic is still clear and to the point.
So, overall, whether you found this album disappointing or not, to me, it’s the best work Code has put out yet. By far. Not taking anything away from what comes before or after at all, this one just stands out among them like a sore thumb, and for good reason. This is one of my favorite albums for good reason. If it beat out fucking Triptykon as #1 of the year for Christ’s sake, you know there’s something there. Amazing album by one of today’s best.
Until next time.