My relationship with Code Orange Kids started with a t-shirt. A t-shirt a friend wore all of South by Southwest in 2011. It was a special year. A lot of special shows happened in small spaces, dupstep bars and pizza shops with an open window. Then a few months after I heard Embrace Me // Erase Me, I was on board. It was as violent as Trash Talk and contained a visceral snarl all Majority Rule and Converge. Then came Cycles, twice as long as the former and coated in new tricks, blends of harmony, sharper changes. Of all the passion and forward thinking that was brewing in the hardcore scene at the moment, Code Orange Kids stuck out. Within a year, four young kids, one a long time member of AbsolutePunk, were the biggest buzzed about hardcore band almost a year after seeing that shirt. In 2012, I watched as they tore a pizza parlor apart. Beer on the ground, miscommunication that almost started a fight, and a thrown mic, and me telling drummer Jami Morgan to put some fucking pants and t-shirt on after blasting through an intense 15-minute set.
As I housed the band this past South by Southwest, they were planning studio time with Kurt Ballou, and you could read the excitement across their faces. It's an excitement I've seen in a lot of faces as of the last few years. It's warming. They talked about ideas, about how this industry should work, and what they're going to do, and what's probably going to happen in reality. As I was sitting across the room from them, sick as a dog, already exhausted from two days of the festival, the band was gearing up to leave for something like their fifth show of the week, only beaten by my other roommates for the week, Former Thieves.
Here we are months later. So much short running releases, now Code Orange Kids had to showcase an LP. Holding someone's attention for 15 minutes is one thing, try at least 30. On Love is Love // Return to Dust, the band have taken the best elements of their two songs off their split with Full of Hell and melded them into magnificent long form. Hearing "Liars // Trudge" out of context of the album says a lot. It didn't sound right on first listen. But follow it with the harmonious "Colors (Into Nothing)" featuring Adam Mcllwee of Tigers Jaw and it's drainage into the harsh textures of "Nothing (The Rat)," and "sense" is clearly made. Writing a group of songs that flow together is one thing, but having them connect into the body of an album is few and far between these days.
A lot of people want to call Code Orange Kids the next Converge. I can see that. I feel like critics will cite Jane Doe in their work in upcoming reviews. I can hear and feel that. The final three songs of the album cement that notion. But I've been wondering who will ever take the next step after Fear Before the March of Flames really deconstructed brash hardcore with The Always Open Mouth. It hit me when I heard "IV (MY MIND IS A PRISON)" earlier this year. It's more than apparent in the thread and dirty needle of Love is Love // Return to Dust. 2012 has been an amazing year for hardcore, and this is the way it needs to be capped off. There are bands giving new harmonies to the genre in albums like Our Home is a Deathbed and Blame & Aging and I've Lost Everything. Then you've got hammers of anguish and hurt in I.V. and You, Me, and the Violence and the upcoming Real Spite. Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, along with Mountain Man's II and Sohns' Ripe/Rot, lies Code Orange Kids' debut full-length. It's emotional, it's unforgiving and most importantly, it's thought provoking and contains forward thinking in a genre that is often scoffed at for its misogyny and violent behavior shown by some that ruin it for many. The challenge has been set by a number of bands this year and 2013 is going to be the next big step. Native. Former Thieves. Caravels.