Heavy music is full of legendary bands boasting deep catalogs stacked with iconic songs — sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, or what to consider their best. With that in mind, we present the “Mandatory Metal” lists, which collect what we consider to be the definitive tracks from various members of the metallurgic pantheon. Up today, Code Orange, those fast-rising, far beyond ambitious, trash-talking and take-no-prisoners industrialized metallic hardcore upstarts straight outta Pittsburgh. The band — recently expanded from a quintet to a sextet with the addition of a mysterious drummer identified only as Mudman — already have a stacked catalog jammed with must-hear bangers, but in our opinion, these classic cuts are their most essential. If you disagree, sound off on The Pit Facebook page.
“I AM KING”
ALBUM: I AM KING
Formerly known as Code Orange Kids, the band truly grew up and came into their own on their 2014 album, I Am King. It’s unhinged title cut showcases a more focused and gnarly sound, still buzzy with chaotic energy.
Sample lyrics: “A coward, that’s how you die/Continuously slowed down by our perception of ourselves/But in a world of servants and liars and spies.”
Code Orange’s 2017 Roadrunner Records debut, Forever, was a massive breakthrough for the group, both commercially and creatively. That song this unrelentingly heavy would earn a GRAMMY nomination is a testament to the band’s strength of will.
Sample lyrics: “We walk a path of re-creation/A feeling you will never know/Reparations for the taking/Four vs. all.”
“BLEEDING IN THE BLUR”
Guitarist Reba Meyers takes the spotlight on this Forever standout, illuminating Code Orange’s stunning range with a Nineties-hailing alternative masterpiece as ready for rock radio as it is the mosh pit.
Sample lyrics: “I’m basking in the black on black/While you’re grinding in the gray/A factory of cowards an army of inane/Faith in numbers on the paper.”
EP: THE HURT WILL GO ON
By 2018’s The Hurt Will Go On EP, Code Orange had won over famous fans — from Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe to Slipknot’s Corey Taylor. The latter guests on raging, industrial-infused single “The Hunt,” but even he can’t steal the show from the band itself.
Sample lyrics: “I wanna watch it destroy you/But I know that’s the easy way to win/So I’ll keep playing the pieces/While you’re cutting faces and wearing our skin.”
The lead single off Code Orange’s 2020 magnum opus, Underneath, re-introduced the band with even bigger hooks, ambitions and vision. Meyers brings an infectious, near-pop vocal hook while the band orchestrates a dense industrial-metal maelstrom to back her. The results are simply stunning.
Sample lyrics: “They pricked me but I didn’t bleed/They singed me just to test the smell/They cut me but I didn’t feel/I was just too deep in to fail.”