Album Review: Code Orange – What Is Really Underneath?

By Dom Smith
By February 16, 2023 Album, Reviews

This album is a great example of just how diverse Code Orange are as a band. Ever boundary-pushing, ‘What Is Really Underneath?’ sees the band embrace their more industrial and techno influences. Well, more than ever before, anyway.

The album is very much a companion to 2020’s ‘Underneath’, and reworks those songs in very creative ways. While ‘Drowning In It’ revels in its intensity, ‘So Below’ takes Code Orange’s sound into the realms of proper EBM-dance music.

Other standouts here are the methodical, droning ‘Prismatic Shame’, and brooding ‘Down We Go’. Like Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Things Falling Apart’ (2000), this will help Code Orange navigate through the murky goth clubs of the world, and as we know that can be quite the lucrative market. Indeed, that crowd will appreciate the groove of ‘Smaller Everyday’, the sombre nature of ‘A Thin Reflective Line’ (the latter even reminds of Depeche Mode and Nitzer Ebb in parts), and the bulldozing, euphoric power of the collection’s title track.

The tracks are shorter, sharper bursts of everything that came before on ‘Underneath’, so should serve to appease long-time fans, as they are sufficiently revamped to sound original, but will pack enough of a punch to appease a whole new fanbase of electronic music fans, and those hardcore Combichrist and Ministry lovers that have long held the crown over the industrial metal genre.

Overall then, this album will definitely intrigue fans of genre-bending alternative music, and while it might alienate some of those more loyal hardcore (punk) fans, this is yet another example of Code Orange taking their sound to somewhere way beyond anyone ever thought it would go.

Boundary-pushing innovators CODE ORANGE are set to release ‘What Is Really Underneath?’ on February 17th, via new record label Blue Grape Music.

The 14-track offering serves as a companion piece to 2020’s critically lauded album ‘Underneath’, providing fans with remixed and reimagined takes on the album which earned the band their second Grammy nomination. ‘What Is Really Underneath?’ was produced by CODE ORANGE. The collection is a cacophony of metal, electronic, and alternative sounds that weave in urgent industrial textures throughout.

Accompanying the album is a short film of the same name, a fourteen-minute, animated narrative that is scored by selections from the album. Helmed by Eric “Shade” Balderose, the film was created using Cinema 4D and Octant Render, taking more than 2000 hours over the course of four months. The film follows a storyline inspired by Dante’s Inferno as the “Mudman” (first introduced in the video for “The Mud” off their 2017 breakout album Forever) journeys Underneath to meet his maker in hopes that he will be cleansed of sin. [Please contact Kirsten for a private press link to watch the eye-popping 14-minute film].

Additionally, the band has created an alternate reality game for fans with the re-launch of The game is fully immersive and has a 360-degree design which can be navigated by clicking and dragging different points within the room via mobile or desktop. The site sends fans down the rabbit hole like only CODE ORANGE can do, offering up a labyrinth of clickables, ciphers, games, and Easter eggs. The room was designed by Eric ‘Shade’ Balderose and Jami Morgan of the band.

CODE ORANGE return to the UK in June to perform at Manchester’s hardcore punk and alternative music festival Outbreak.