Album: Burn You; Burn We
Few forces in Mother Earth’s arsenal are as horrifying as fire. Capable of engulfing entire cities in a matter of hours, searing flesh clean from bone and reducing buildings to steel skeletons with an equally remorseless appetite, flames are, quite simply, not to be fucked with. They produce one of very few naturally occurring mechanisms of destruction from which there is no reasonable return. One can’t “undo” something reduced to ashes. You can’t just “heal over” third degree burns—sure, you heal, if you’re lucky—but it isn’t the same. That same cacophony of aggression and destruction is what defines the debut full-length record by metalcore outfit Degrader. Aptly titled Burn You; Burn We, the group’s latest effort is scathing and immolating for its duration. Combining jarring heavy-hardcore elements with metallic riffs and massive breakdowns and sprinkles of contemporary electronic influence for atmosphere, Burn You; Burn We is Degrader grown tenfold what was expected from their recent EP, showcasing a band unafraid to be bold and unique while still pushing themselves to create raw and ruthlessly heavy content.
Burn You: Burn We is an incinerating whirlwind of a record—and while the fire jokes and puns are easy, they’re also very accurate. Degrader go above and beyond to create a visceral and primal experience on every track of their debut full-length record, from their instrumentation to the production and vocal effort. Starting with their introductory cut, “Breaker,” through “Spirit Bomb” and the barnburner “Fang,” Degrader’s percussion is energetic and pummeling, bombarding the listener with salvo after salvo of quick fills and punchy patterns that give each track a fluid, dynamic feel without sacrificing aggression or ambience. Take, for example, “Breaker,” which starts off with a dire, melancholic atmos that quickly dives into a raunchy two step bolstered by thick, booming bass and frantic fretwork. In this fashion, the record carries on—with some tracks, like “Scum (Put ‘Em Up)” feeling more aggressive and others more balanced between ethereal, catchy and crushing. Degrade are talented at toggling between softer sections and scathing brutality, using simple but effective riffs and grooves atop a dynamic and balanced percussive backbone to keep the listener hooked. At their core, however, Degrader strike a magnificent balance between a revival of traditional metalcore and the more polished, late-2000s metalcore style, building from their previous two records to make something grittier and more ferocious but still smooth enough to go down easily and catchy enough to stay stuck in the listener’s head for weeks.
Where Degrader’s most aggressive aspects are found isn’t so much within their musicianship, but instead their vocal and lyrical components. Whether it’s the introspective and brooding elements of “Breaker” or the outright oppressive nature of “Scum,” “Fang” or “Comanche,” Degrader run the gamut of human emotion on Burn You; Burn We, and they manage it without sounding scattered, contrived or forced. Each and every song has lyrics that are diffusely relatable, delivered by vocals that cover a range broad enough to stay interesting throughout the record’s moderate run-time—which means that Burn You; Burn We does the near impossible for metalcore in 2019; avoid any sense of monotony. Degrader have crafted a release that is just as immersive and interesting the fifteenth time through as it is the first, in large part to their vocal diversity and lyrical prowess—if that isn’t high praise, I don’t know what is.
With excellent guest vocal selections, immolating breakdowns and innovative use of atmosphere and electronics (albeit very limited), Burn You; Burn We emerges alongside releases by their peers in Born a New and Extortionist as one of the metalcore records to beat this year. Degrader’s consistent growth, maturation and energy is inspiring and refreshing both, making them one of modern metalcore’s trailblazing acts.
For Fans Of: Boundaries, Born a New, Extortionist, Like Moths to Flames
By: Connor Welsh