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Metal Mondays: Code Orange dives into alt-rock territory with new single ‘Mirror’

Code Orange has dropped some new music for us this September, and it’s definitely making impressions in the metal community. The Pittsburgh, PA, hardcore band is known best for its punishing, punk-influenced metal; in recent years, however, the band has begun experimenting with different sounds, ranging from nu-metal to electronic to music that defies genre. For a band of this stature, whose fame is owed to its very heavy origins, to change so drastically is not super common. Personally, I am not a fan of this huge musical shift.

From the group’s start in the late 2000s as Code Orange Kids, to the 2014 release of the song “I Am King” and the subsequent dropping of “Kids,” from their name to the follow-up 2017 album “Forever,” Code Orange had been delivering heavy music to the masses for years. The band has also played entrance music for professional wrestler Bray Wyatt twice – once in 2019 and then once in 2022 – and both songs were starkly different from one another. 

This is a prime example of Color Orange’s creative changes over the years. The band’s first WWE theme, “Let Me In,” is incredibly heavy, but is still splattered with some nu-metal elements. Throughout their career, there have been industrial influences on their hardcore onslaught, but I feel like this is closer to nu-metal than industrial. It’s a certified headbanger, but definitely a forebear to the next few years of Code Orange’s musical shift.

In 2022, Code Orange released “Shatter,” a new theme for Wyatt. This song furthered the band’s descent into nu-metal and even branched into electronic. While it’s currently one of Code Orange’s top-streamed songs on Spotify, I am not a big fan. I am all for bands changing their sound and evolving, but this song was just too different from what I am used to hearing from Code Orange for me to wrap my head around it.

The most recent example of these creative changes is the Sept. 7 release of Code Orange’s new single, “Mirror.” This new track is the fourth single off the band’s new album, “The Above.” The three previously released singles from this new album all fall into rock territory, so some fans have been hoping for a return to the band’s hardcore roots. What was actually delivered was the furthest stretch from the band’s original sound. 

“Mirror” is an exploration of the trip-hop-influenced alt-rock. Lead singer Jami Morgan’s clean vocals and guitarist and vocalist Reba Meyer’s background crooning matched with orchestral flairs and a Lofi-esque beat almost make them sound like a completely different band. While the band is no stranger to clean vocals or the occasional rap instrumental, “Mirror” is so far from the downtuned guitars and industrial sound that Code Orange usually produces that many long-time fans will be questioning its inclusion on their newest album. It had already seemed like “The Above” was going to be a departure from the usual doomy hardcore, but “Mirror” might be an indication of more sonic diversity that is yet to come. 

“Mirror” and the other singles from Code Orange’s forthcoming album are not bad, just very different. While the first two singles they released from “The Above,” “The Game” and “Grooming My Replacement,” are closer to the band’s typical sound, the other singles have towed the hard rock line. The third single, “Take Shape,” features Nine Inch Nails’ Billy Corgan and is heavily influenced by nu-metal and 2000s hard rock. As someone who really liked their early work, I have a hard time listening to something that is such a huge departure from the hardcore punk metal Code Orange originally created.

Other fans of the band are reacting relatively positively to the new music. People enjoyed the vibrant music video and overall seemed to respect the choice to make something much different than Code Orange’s previous work. At the end of the day, I don’t want the band’s new album to be bad, and I don’t think it will be. However, based on the current singles for the album, I’m not confident it will be very high in my Code Orange album rankings.

Jackson McCoy is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Jackson know by emailing or tweeting him at jm049122@ohio.edu or @_jackson_mccoy_.


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