Overall Score: 10/10 presentation: 10/10 songs: 10/10 replay factor: 9/10 Pros: A stunning collection of reimagined songs by one of metal's finest young bands Cons: virtually nothing
Code Orange are such a spectacular band that the world is running out of superlatives to continually describe them. Even by their own standards they continue to set impossibly high bars for themselves to clear over and over again. In March they released the Album of the Year candidate Underneath before revolutionising the way content is presented online with their streamed Last Ones Left: In Fear of the End live show, but perhaps the biggest surprise Code Orange have pulled this year came in the form of their Under the Skin live acoustic show. A lovingly crafted homage to MTV Unplugged that featured a special Mudbangers Ball pre show hosted by the legendary Riki Rachtman.Showing the band in an entirely new light, it showcased a rawer, yet no less visceral version of the band and now it has been released as fully mixed & produced digital live album
Hearing some of the band’s most intense songs stripped down to their skeletons and recontextualised is not only a spine tingling delight, but shows how forward thinking and artistically ahead of everyone else they truly are. Tracks like Bleeding in the Blur, Underneath (retitled here as Under the Skin) and Sulfer Surrounding take on haunting new forms in this context and work surprisingly well, managing to retain all of their complexity, while giving them a new emotional resonance.
Who I Am sounds the most like it’s electronic counterpart, but even so it is nice to hear it splayed out and stripped down like this. I think this may be my preferred version of that particular song. One thing that really stands out on this release is the inclusion of interludes that glue the performance together, stripping away the crowd noise that would have been present in different circumstances, it’s a nice touch that is also in keeping with the way Code Orange present their music.
Even as an acoustic release, the electronic moments that are prevelant throughout the bands work are peppered throughout, adding string musicians as well gives things a more ethereal quality and made me yearn for a whole show of Code Orange backed by a full orchestra.
One of the crowning moments on here is the cover of Alice In Chains‘ Down In A Hole, a soul crushing song at the best of times, it’s given new life here. I am very much against people covering Alice In Chains, but it has to be said this is an incredible cover that manages to be both respectful tribute and it’s own thing at the same time, it was a brave choice from a bold band that pays off very well.
Code Orange are without a doubt one of the most incendiary and forward thinking bands of their generation,they have such a control over their artistry and the way they present themselves that they managed to strip down their songs and still manage to make them sound heavy, it’s just a different type of heavy, one wraught with emotions and goose bump inducing atmosphere.
Their affection for 90s era Alternative music absolutely shines through, this is a beautiful love letter to that time and place in history. Underneath may end up being the album of 2020 for a lot of people but with Under the Skin may be the most impressive thing that Code Orange put their name to in 2020 and also the most aptly titled as it will certainly get under your skin if you are willing to let it