I have heard Swedish metalheads Degraded
labelled as thrash metal, melodic death metal and - from their website - death
metal. I do not presume to know if this is due to their previous works which I
admittedly have not heard. All I can tell you is this album, The Monster Within,
is not really any of those. None of those definitions incorporate the very clear metalcore element that they have taken on with their
latest offering due for release this month. I'm not saying that's bad - I will
leave that to the elitists that spend much more time commenting on things they
hate than that which they like.
I have to review it as more of a metalcore
album because there are so many characteristics of that genre that significantly
overpower the other aspects of the music.
They've worked hard. That's clear. The vocal performances steer much more
towards metalcore, for me. There are also several chorus breakdowns to cleaner
vocals throughout the album which are more of a metalcore feature than a
characteristic of death or melodic death metal. Transition between clean and
growl vocals with intricate harmonies are fine, though fairly predictable
throughout. I do think there are a few breakdowns too many and you can tell
they're coming from a mile away. Much the same as you could with a lot of 80s
metal bands who were always putting the guitar solo after the second chorus.
Indeed, there's little surprising or original in terms of song structure. It
follows the same formula for most of the album but the thrash riffs are
particularly enjoyable. They pop up here and there and do a good job of breaking
things up when they need to be in a way that, to me anyway, is not predictable
like the breakdowns are. It stops things getting too repetitive. The ballad
'We'll Meet Again' also changes things up right in the middle of the album and
could not be placed better. The producers did particularly well on those counts.
I also enjoyed one surprise; a little flamenco-ish random break that comes out
of nowhere in a song I will not name so that those who may be reading and decide
to give this album a listen will not have anything spoiled. This album will
definitely be very appealing to the more mainstream metal fans. I think most
metal fans bar the aforementioned elitists will find something to enjoy.
In summary, as a predominantly metalcore album, which is the only honest way I
can review this, it is a solid, above average effort and certainly more than on
par with more prominent bands of that genre. I think this will take them further
and faster within the metalcore realm than they could possibly hope to progress
within the death/melodic death metal field if this is the formula they are
decide to continue with. Whether or not this is the direction Degradead wish to
go is another matter. This is a good metal album, but I cannot say it is a death
(or melodic death) metal album.