REVIEW: Degrader – From the Inside Out [EP/2017]

Artist: Degrader 

Album: From the Inside Out – EP 


Everyone’s known that person that can’t work through their emotions—they don’t vent, communicate, let off steam—they hold on to every last ounce of bitterness they have. They just keep pushing it down, layering more and more unhappiness on top of it, swallowing their pride, marginalizing their happiness and just getting by. And they do it for as long as they can. They’ll do it for weeks, months, years until it builds up. 

Then they reach a breaking point. The negativity consumes their sanity, blinding them with a scarlet drape of rage and aggression. From the Inside Out is that breaking point—a lifetime of suppressed negativity and the snap that defines it—all in one EP. Degrader return with the follow-up to their head-turning and neck-snapping debut EP, proving that with age and experience, this Massachusetts metalcore outfit have grown not just more aggressive, but more elegant in their songwriting and unique in their dynamic. From the Inside Out takes the raw, ruthless heaviness they band are known for and combining it with catchiness, groove, bounce and a unique twist that make them not just one of the best young bands tearing up the east coast, but one of the best bands tearing up the states period.  

From the Inside Out is a lesson in riotous, raunchy power. Degrader—true to their name—use immense and aggressive music to degrade the listener with a serious of crushing breakdowns, creative, bold and bouncy grooves that oscillate back and forth between one another with practiced, precise excellence. Percussionist John Kuhn finds himself at the band’s core; an uproariously pounding heart, pumping fresh blood into From the Inside Out, in turn, allowing the band to pump fresh, dynamic and devastating life into heavy music. Kuhn’s work from the first patterns and punchy, bold fills of “Gaslighter” drive their hooks deep under the listener’s skin. Kuhn’s excellence continues well throughout the EP—even during the somewhat more mellow and subdued moments (sparse though they are) in “Phantom Pain” and “Vendetta.” These tracks highlight an immense majority of Degrader’s diversity, as bassist Ryan St. Amand bounces hither and to with a heavy, thick low end that adds beef and crunch to the scathing and lacerating riffs that define songs like lead single, “Gaia.” St. Amand works excellently with Kuhn, aiding his ability to flow between styles and sounds, yet without stealing the show—rumbling earnestly beneath the furiously fretted guitar that leaves deep lacerations over every inch of the listener. This is especially true of the closing portion to “Vendetta,” where, despite the song’s moments of tact, is also a source of relentless heaviness—as is “Gaslighter,” taking Kuhn’s bouncy percussion and packing ten tons of power behind every thick kick drum smack and bright, explosive crack of the snare. 

Between the layers of catchy, bouncy groove and pummeling, earth-shattering displays of rampant aggression, From the Inside Out is home to a pointed, punishing, and perverse vocal element. Frontman Liam Geary—assisted by St. Amand—lets loose with some of the most intense and relentless vocal work to grace a metalcore release in some time. Geary is great at playing to his various strengths, with songs like “Gaslighter” immediately sinking hooks into the listener’s ears with relatable lyrics and a raw, savage belted scream that the listener can feel shaking their eardrums. Meanwhile, more balanced songs–“Vendetta” being a great example. Featuring Fit for a King’s Tuck O’Leary, and some of the most emotionally ravaging and ear-snagging clean vocal segments the band (or any band, recently) has brought to a heavy backdrop, “Vendetta” is a stand-out track not just for its diversity, but for how well it manages to appeal to various aspects of the listener’s psyche and emotional makeup. Then, there are songs like the aforementioned, “Gaslighter” or “Gaia,” which are tactless in their approach at sheer brutality. Here, Geary’s range reigns supreme, with hearty lows and skin-splitting shrieks that straddle meaty, raw mid-range yells. Geary amplified the greatest aspects of Degrader—which are many—to make From the Inside Out an album bound to work its way into the listener just to tear them apart.  

Degrader break the listener down (pun very intended) only to build them back up stronger, more resilient, and with a newfound appreciation for heavy music. Quick and catchy, crushing and creative—heartfelt, but heavier than all of hell, From the Inside Out is an immense listen, and there isn’t much more that need be said. Coming from a promising full-length, a lengthy period of relative quiesence and plenty of time spent writing, refining and working through their own collective lives and experiences through the cathartic crash of crushing heaviness, Degrader have created an album bound to sink a barbed talon into the ears of listeners worldwide—and keep them hooked for the forseeable future. 



For Fans Of: Born A New, Downswing, Like Moths to Flames, Fit For a King 

By: Connor Welsh