Deathwish Inc is currently on the top of their game, the Real Madrid of the metal world if you will. Their trajectory and ability to find some of the most cutting edge and intense and boundary pushing bands the genre has to offer. Only this year the label have produced the likes of Young And In The Way and Cult Leader, bands who have both released staggeringly brutal and intense albums, rivalling anything released this year in terms of in your face snarl or quality. Code Orange (formally Code Orange Kids) are a band following in the trend set by their Deathwish label mates with their sophomore album I Am King which shows the bands’ progression from hardcore rookies on their first album Love Is Love/Return Is Dust (Deathwish Inc) to full blown masters of their craft on their sludgy, hypnotic and savage second release.
The band have certainly spread their wings and soared into the unknown on this release, with key experimentation taking place such as the band dabbling with more soundscapes and at times even elements of drone. All this whilst not straying too far from the path that made them the up and coming ones to watch on their first album. Despite listening to the odd Neurosis album and taking a few tips from the returning king of savage production Kurt Ballou, I Am King sees the band do what all good follow up releases should do; take what made the previous release work and expand that idea until it is fit to burst before adding new ideas and experimentation.
This is exactly what Code Orange have done on this album, taking their post-Hardcore meets Converge sound and ramping up the sludge and Neurosis elements almost to breaking point, which at times makes the album one of the most punishing listens of the year. Plus there are the new forays into drone and other experimental music provide new ground for them to build on the next album.
Overall, Code Orange have proven on this release that they are no longer kids, as I Am King shows the makings of a band not content to just sit in the realms of safety and complacency. But a band ready to expand their sound and not afraid of experimentation to broaden their horizons. At times heavy, trippy and crushing all at the same time, I Am King is what all follow up albums should strive to be.