Code Orange's Track By Track Guide To Underneath

Jami and Reba share the stories and motives behind each track on Code Orange's new album Underneath

Code Orange's Track By Track Guide To Underneath
Tom Shepherd
Jimmy Fontaine

Three years in the making, Code Orange have dropped the follow-up to their game-changing album Forever in the form of Underneath. The 5K-rated album reimagines what it means to be heavy, creating one of the most brutal and intense pieces of sonic art ever put to tape.

To give deeper thought and meaning to the hardcore bludgeoning, we talk to vocalist Jami Morgan and guitarist Reba Meyers to get the low down on every single track. Unsurprisingly, there's a lot going on.

1. Deeper Than Before

Jami: "This is the intro, and it sets the scene in a lot of ways for the world that you’re going to inhabit on the record. Thematically, it ties some loose ends up from the past couple records and it opens up new doors to what we’re getting ready to embark on."

2. Swallowing The Rabbit Hole

Jami: "It’s about embarking on this journey of self-discovery; facing a lot of the stuff that you might not want to face that’s ugly about yourself and our society in this new digital world that we’re in. Musically, I think it’s a good representation of where we’re deciding to take the heavy aspect of the band in terms of blending the real and the surreal."

3. In Fear

Reba: "In Fear was one of the first tracks that we wrote. I would say it’s like a glitched-out version of a classic Code Orange heavy song. We took the groove that we have on a lot of our songs in Forever and put another spin on it."

Jami: "It’s about this culture of fear that we’ve created by digging up things about each other, rushing to judgement of people because of how accessible our histories and information is now to each other; how people get left for dead once they’ve done something wrong, sometimes very rightfully so. It’s about trying to process that new style of judge, jury, and executioner that is the internet."

4. You And You Alone

Jami: "It’s just a reflection on bitterness and anger towards people that you feel put you in a corner and almost turn you into the worst version of yourself. I feel like the record’s a journey of looking at stuff that you don’t like about yourself and facing it. We as a group, and me as an individual, and the character in the story have a lot of bitterness and frustration at times. So it’s a reflection on that and trying to let it go."

Reba: "It has this super mechanical verse-riff that’s basically started as a sloppy metallic riff that we then took and put through an electronic grinder."

5. Who I Am

Jami: "This is an almost dreamy, dark pop song on the surface that gets progressively more twisted and mangled. It’s about our modern [obsession with] stalking each other through our phones and studying the way that we behave, and how that would have been thought of in a different time versus how it’s thought of now; the impact it has on your psyche when you see people as just the way that they present and not necessarily who they actually are, and how it can twist some people up who are already twisted into a really strange position."

Reba: "The music reflects that imagery. The music isn’t exactly how it appears to be: the sound shows itself as it goes on. It takes you on a twisted rollercoaster. You think it’s going in one direction but then it does something unexpected."

6. Cold.Metal.Place

Jami: "This is the environment in which I see the main character being birthed from. It’s this technological hell that is represented on this record by what I like to call ‘The whispering souls,’ which is this buzzing voice of opinion and constant criticism and positivity and just noise that you’re always hearing. It’s very impactful not only in the way we make art, but make all of our decisions now."

Reba: "Sonically, it sets the mood for the darker side of the record. It was also one of the first songs we wrote and it’s where we started creating the landscape for the way we wanted the heavy songs to sound."

Jami: "A digital manipulation of heavy music while still keeping the heart and soul of hard music."

7. Sulfur Surrounding

Jami: "It’s pretty much a ballad about corrosive relationships and how manipulative they can become, even unintentionally. It’s our take on a full-on ballad rock song but with cool Code Orange twists."

Reba: "It’s one of our bigger, classic-sounding melodies. We tried with this song to really give it another element of bringing weird heavy aspects while still keeping the flow of a more melodic song."

8. Easy Way

Jami: "Easy Way is one of the more electronic-based songs on the record. It’s got this thumping electronic pulse, and it’s just a different flavour of melodic song that we did that doesn’t really sound like anything we’ve done before. I sing on it more than I’ve sung on anything else melodically. It’s a different colour on the record."

Reba: "A whole other world of techniques was experimented on with that song. It’s a great platform for the level of modern production that we wanted to showcase on this album, even though it’s overall a really heavy metal album."

9. Erasure Scan

Jami: "This is a reflection on some of the tragedies that have happened due to our ever-twisted mental health and how we treat each other and talk to each other. It talks a little about school shootings. It does a little bit of psychological research into the whys some of that stuff happens."

Reba: "It’s probably one of the heavier, glitchy songs on the album. In the same way that the lyrics are pretty intense and cover some really intense ground, the song reflects that. There’s a lot of manipulation of the whole mix in that song, as opposed to just tweaking little things. We took it all and chopped it and looped it and just used a lot of techniques."

10. Last Ones Left

Jami: "This is kind of our bravado coming out for one of a few times on the record. Just looking around at what other people are producing and not being too fond of it. It’s just a moment that you’re having where you’re feeling like the best is behind us, even just in terms of music. It’s something that I wanted to get out on one song, because it’s part of this psychological journey and sometimes those thoughts can drag you into a place with no real positive ending: it’s just you complaining."

11. Autumn And Carbine

Jami: "Autumn And Carbine is a Reba song that she wrote a lot of the music for that deals with celebrity culture and how I feel a lot of young artists, especially in other genres, are super manipulated by some of the big wigs, to the point where it becomes toxic to their lives. They’re trying to present something that can become a really negative thing and send them on a downward spiral. In terms of the story of the record – it can apply to anything not just music – it’s that feeling that you’re a puppet and the strings are being pulled and your wellbeing’s not really being cared about and considered."

12. Back Inside The Glass

Jami: "It’s one of the more hardcore-leaning songs on the record. It’s fast and it walks a cool line with the electronics and the straight-up riffs and fast beating-down drums. Thematically, it’s about trying to redesign yourself into something better, but feeling like there’s this parasite that’s swimming inside of you that you can’t escape. Every time you get close to opening the door and walking away from that, it pulls you back in. For me, this song is like you’re on an operating table and being changed but you’re diseased, and then you end up back behind that glass just a spectator in your own demise."

13. A Sliver

Reba: "It starts off as this dark, brooding melodic song and goes to this really powerful but depressing chorus. Then it gets put through another electronic grinder that gets teased in through the middle of the song and takes over again at the end. It’s all leading into the finale of the album."

Jami: "This song’s about our exposure to tragedy, how much it effects us, and how quickly everybody seems to get over it and move on to the next thing. That’s why it’s called A Sliver, because that sliver of time is getting smaller and smaller in which that mourning process even happens. And just feeling smaller in a world where we have so many platforms to speak up but our voices are really quieter than ever because we’re just drowned out by noise."

14. Underneath

Jami: "This is the last song on the record. Like a lot of this stuff, I want people to take the journey on their own; I don’t think it’s a definitive ending necessarily. It’s one of the more hip-hop-based songs. It’s just a song about coming to that final passage where you have to face a lot of the things that you’ve learned and make some hard decisions on what you’re going to be."

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