Metalcore heroes play to fan base

Ah, Hardcore music. Dubbed Screamo by the rest of us, Hardcore bands around the country have excited fans (and annoyed everyone else) with wimpy, guttural screams and chaotic, time change-heavy riffing. There’s plenty of both to go around on I am King, the sophomore effort from Code Orange (not to be confused with their former alias, Code Orange Kids). It’s sure to excite fans of the genre, and, hey, there’s almost enough going on here to entice the rest of us.

I Am King opens up just as you’d expect; back-to-back thrashers with sloppy rhythms grate against incomprehensible gibberish and over-the-top drumming that make Metallica’s Lars Ulrich sound restrained. Bass-heavy and powerful, these tracks set the tone for what is to come, so either get on board or get left behind because you’re in for 32 head-churning minutes of more of the same.

Only not quite, because suddenly “Dreams in Intertia” comes in, turns the whole album on its side, and shows that there’s more to this group of misfits than initially meets the ear. Rather than coming in speedy and rushed, “Dreams” takes a different approach. It’s creepy, it’s dark, and its doomsday riffs, eerie echoes and Jami Morgan’s suddenly perfect drumming come together to create a moody atmosphere that manages to retain the track’s subtlety while still packing enough power to rattle the walls. There’s no doubt about it, folks, this one’s a keeper.

It’s also out of place. I kept waiting for another moment like this one as I head-banged through the rest of the eight tracks on the LP, but it never came. Instead, the band falls into the incoherent musicality and frustrating Rush-like time signatures that are clichés of the genre. The chilling chorale found on “Starve” makes it an easy second to “Dreams,” but it’s the only other track able to stand out among the wreckage left behind from King’s Speed Metal chaos. By the time we get to “Your Body is Ready,” Code Orange’s foursome have already overstayed their welcome. It’s too bad they can’t seem to pull out another trick or two from the old way-out-o-sphere of weirdness because these songs are all so similar they make The Ink Spots sound diverse.

Long story short, other than the odd couple of gems, there’s nothing really to be heard here that’s of any interest to those whose musical tastes lie outside the realm of banal yells and metallic madness. I Am King definitely manages to rest near the top of the mountain when it comes to innovation and quality within the Metalcore genre. It’s too bad that’s not saying much.