Code Orange Reinvents Itself & the ‘MTV Unplugged’ Concept with New Album, Haunting Alice in Chains Cover


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Rock Cellar Magazine
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There is no project too “bold” for Code Orange to tackle — even during a global pandemic.

The Pittsburgh-based metal/hardcore/experimental band has proven itself adaptable to even the most frustrating of circumstances — in the band’s case, not being able to tour in support of an anticipated new album because of a global pandemic. Instead, Code Orange burst forth in mid-March with a live-stream performance aired on the band’s Twitch channel that was wildly innovative, given how fresh the stay-at-home rules were at the time.

(Click here to shop Code Orange from our Rock Cellar Store).

Live-streamed gigs have become all the rage since the early days of the pandemic, and Code Orange has now added to its budding legacy with a live album, Under The Skin (or u n d e r t h e s k i n if you’re into stylization), that more or less reinvents the MTV Unplugged performance style of yesteryear showcasing the band’s versatility in a powerful way.

In the performance, Eric Balderose, Reba Meyers, Jami Morgan, Joe Goldman and Dominic Landolina perform by candlelight from the Theatre Factory in Pittsburgh, repurposing songs from throughout their career, which to this point features four studio albums dating back to 2012. But while Code Orange’s catalog of original music can be jarring at times due to its feverish tempo-changing and aggressive heavy metal approach, this was all about trying something fresh.

Under the Skin was billed as “a full band reiimagined and stripped down presentation of tracks spanning our entire catalog,” and that’s precisely what it was — with the added bonus of an inspired Alice in Chains cover. Tackling “Down in a Hole,” one of the standout songs from the grunge/metal band’s career and a focal point on AIC’s lauded MTV Unplugged album, seems like a tall order, given the haunting element of late vocalist Layne Staley that makes the original recording so much power.

Code Orange absolutely nailed it, though:

The rest of Under the Skin features selections from the rest of the band’s back catalog, and as a complete “unplugged” album it’s a breathtaking release from a band that’s done a lot to make a name for itself in recent years.

Watch the full Under the Skin performance below:

And stream the album below, via Spotify:

Would this album have happened had the world not hit the “pause” button due to the pandemic? Or would Code Orange have maintained its regular live concert schedule, the concept of an unplugged album not even crossing their minds for the time being?

Who knows. You can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube, as the saying goes, and Under the Skin is here, for all of us, now. And we’re better off as a result, because this is one of the most special releases of the year, from a group rapidly becoming icons of its era.


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