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For a while, it seemed as though Code Orange’s growing pains might become chronic arthritis. The Pittsburgh-based hardcore outfit have consistently trafficked in brutality, but to wildly varying degrees of success. The strong debut Love Is Love/Return to Dust gave way to the occasionally spotty I Am King, an album flanked by the sometimes head-scratching, Grammy-nominated Forever. For every “Kill the Creator” there was a “Bleeding in the Blur,” a track more befitting Reba Meyers’ other band Adventures. Code Orange didn’t so much write bad songs as songs that felt out of place.

The Hurt Will Go On is the EP follow-up to single “Only One Way,” a track whose midtempo lurch, guitar shrieks, and wah-wah stabs didn’t quite coalesce into anything exciting. But the palpable industrial flair hinted at something new on the horizon.

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Whatever that might be is made much clearer by this collection of tracks. Any radio rock trappings present in “Only One Way” are annihilated by a combination of pummelling hardcore and what sounds like a synthesizer. If Code Orange are contemporary hardcore’s answer to nu-metal, then The Hurt Will Go On is the band taking a stab at Powerman 5000. It’s much more brutal and experimental than that band ever was, but the blistering square waves can trace a sketchy lineage to “When Worlds Collide.”

Opener “3 Knives” is a two minute exhibition of everything the band has to offer here, full of borderline breakbeats and a sample from “Hungry Like the Wolf,” of all things, rendered unsettling. But it’s “The Hunt,” featuring Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor, that really steals the show. Those synth pulses and glitched out drums are still there, but with the tempo brought down a notch the band really explores what electronic tinkering might add to their sound. Taylor’s vocals are top-notch, and the Slipknot family’s continued willingness to work with younger hardcore acts (see: Bleed the Pigs) is consistently delightful.

Guitarist and vocalist Shade’s remix of “Hurt Goes On” is the only forgettable moment, which is fitting given that the original isn’t particularly exciting. It’s a hard-left from the previous two tracks, but perfectly listenable.

Where Code Orange might head next is anyone’s guess. The two disparate releases from this year aren’t the best map for their journey. But if The Hurt Will Go On is any indicator, the former kids are headed on what could be the most exciting path of their already storied career.

-- Michael Siebert

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