April 24, 2012 - Topshelf
We’re told our entire lives not to judge books by their covers, not to prejudge or let first impressions rule our perceptions. Man, do the dudes (and dudette) in Code Orange Kids ever put those lessons to the test with their moniker. Not only does their name scream saccharine-coated pop-punk, but they look like someone pushed Unwound into the Fountain of Youth, and they hail from Pittsburgh, where everything from the aging process (see: Sidney Crosby) and local street fashion to competitive professional baseball is frozen in time. Their two songs, “IV (My Mind Is A Prison)” and “V (My Body Is A Well)” are expansive and spastic with a spirited, three-pronged vocal attack our disenfranchised inner-anarchist just loves, not to mention the Pg. 99 and Orchid influence they bring to the table. The downfall to Code Orange Kids’ contribution is the tendency to meander. The songs’ parts often seem cobbled together, with the result being that the musical flow suffers.
Full Of Hell may be more secretive, with a labyrinthine air of mystery built up around them—their web presence is about as close to non-existent as sparse can get—but they are more to-the-point musically. Their 2011 debut, Roots Of Earth Are Consuming My Home, was a vicious blast of “holy terror”-style hardcore, grind outbursts and moody power violence. They may offer very little in terms of personal information, but give ’em guitars, drums, a PA system and something to scream about, and damn if you’re not going to hear about it. Their half of this split (“Fox Womb” and “Reeds In A River, Dry”) is mired in miserable, pitch-black emotion conveyed by a thick and wiry guitar sound, dual-vocal contrasts and a reverbed-out production value that recalls basement show abrasion and early-’90s death metal.
Everything about both of these bands is designed with expressive, aggressive brutality in mind, and despite the multitudes of permutations of these sounds already existing in the lexicon of extreme music, the heartfelt delivery makes this split worth checking out.