ALBUM REVIEW: Code Orange – Under The Skin

Release Date: September 4th 2020
Label: Roadrunner Records


Living in material that is both chaotic and claustrophobic, Code Orange have managed to strip all of this manic with their unplugged live record, ‘Under The Skin’.

Being able to easily make out the lyrics and being able to assess and appreciate the instrumentation, musicianship, and songwriting skills behind their work certainly offers a new view into the life of Code Orange, combined with the nostalgic MTV Unplugged-esque vibe of it all, and it makes for an interesting listen. Sadly, though, that’s about it.

As we start with ‘Bleeding In The Blur’, which for Code Orange is already a solemn listen in its original state, it spikes the curiosity of how they can manage to turn around all of their other way more intense songs into something of the kind, but the variety falls flat.

Sadly a lot of it sounds rather monotone, both vocals and instruments alike. Reba Meyers‘ voice shines through on louder parts, but the slow and sultry sections, which take up most of the performances naturally as it all gets toned down, twist her voice into an uncomfortable listen. The transitions from song to song keep getting blurred more and more as you fail to dissect them from one another. What had distinct vibes about it before disappears in the acoustic versions, despite the song being able to shine better in other aspects, it’s not enough.

Their cover of ‘Down In A Hole’ by Alice In Chains is well delivered for what it is, but the highlight of the record comes towards the end with ‘Sulfur Surrounding’. Here, Meyers‘ voice finally finds its safe space.

Though certainly offering a different and unheard side of Code Orange, along with allowing to shed and expose what composes the menace of their work, ‘Under The Skin’ is an idea better in theory than in practice. For Code Orange, less is less and more is more.

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