Degreed – Dead But Not Forgotten
Sun Hill Productions (June 2015)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
Although I am familiar with the band Degreed by name, I haven’t actually heard them, even though this is the band’s third album. The band is a four piece with guitar/keyboards/bass/drums with the bass player Robin Ericsson singing. Ericsson was a Swedish Idol finalist and founded the band in 2005. The album weighs in with a hefty 14 songs as the band felt they all merited inclusion.
‘The Scam’ is the first song and has instrumental section at the front end that makes it an obvious opening track. It is a pretty pacey melodic rocker with changes in pace and some rather neat guitar work also. Barely taking a breath the equally pacey opening of ‘Face the Fact’ kicks in. This breaks down into a half time verse before picking up the pace again for the chorus, which lacks a little in terms of the hook. ‘Madness’ is next up and again starts with a pacey opening before again breaking down into a half-time beat for the verses which build through the bridges to the chorus, which this time has a great hook line. Seems like a bit of a pattern developing here, but Shame On Me breaks this by having a keyboard intro which sounds like it could have been on a ‘Mr Mister’ album from the 80’s before picking up for the chorus. It also has an almost grungy middle eight followed by some Yngie –esque guitar playing.
A little more variation is introduced with ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’ which sounds Def Leppardish in places and is one of the strongest songs on the album with a great hookline. ‘Love Me, Love Me Not’ is about as close as the band get to a ballad before the chorus kicks in. ‘Drama’ is the album approaching the half-way mark and is easily the weakest song on the album for me and kind of feels like a filler.
The second half is launched by the strangely named ‘Kill Your Darlings’ which is more guitar-driven and clearly a little darker lyrically. I can see what the band are trying to do with this but the sound needs to be little harder and edgier to pull this type of song off. In complete contrast, this is followed by the poppy and catchy ‘Touch of Paradise’, which is excellent. However there are possibly too many woahos for my liking.
‘Forgive You’ re-establishes the pattern of fast opening and coming down into the verses before picking up the pace for the chorus – clearly the band like this structure and admittedly they do it well. However, it does make the album start sound a little ‘samey’. Next up is one of the best songs on the album, ‘Start Again’. This has light and shade without using the bands blueprint structure relying instead on good use of guitars and keyboards to provide it. It is also has a great chorus. ‘Firefly’ more or less follows the blueprint but is a great melodic rocker despite this. Penultimate track ‘Final Ride’ is a slight variation on the blueprint but is a little harder edged. Closing track ‘Turn Around Don’t Back Down’ is possibly the best song on the album for me and brings it to a suitable end.
Having given this album numerous listens I should really waxing lyrical about it. There are some great vocals, although I prefer Ericsson’s voice when he goes for it as opposed to the lighter stuff. There is also some great guitar playing. But there is just something missing for me. The songs all started to sound a little the same and do appear to follow a blueprint. That could be down to the fact that there are 14 songs on the album and it might have been better off being ten song album which may have reduced the feeling of ‘saminess’, as there is some variety in the songs. Don’t get me wrong, it is a pretty good album, but I just feel it could have been better in terms of the talent these clearly have. On that basis I will keep an eye out for the next album