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Degradation

Juggernaut

Review by Travis Jensen

When you think of thrash metal, bands that naturally come to mind are probably Slayer, Sepultura and Biohazard just to name a few. Now you can add another band to that list if you haven’t already: Degradation. Originally hailing from Hickory Hills, Illinois, these guys have been together for a few years now, storming through Chicago and surrounding northern Illinois areas. As I mentioned the bands above, in hindsight, this may be where some of Degradation’s influence and style comes from, because I sense a strong musical vibe where Venom and Testament may have been involved.

The members of the band consist of Alex Manske, Mike Hartman, Joe Manske IV and Steve Holy.  There are several tracks on this album that really bring me back to what it was that originally drew me to this kind of music. I won’t take you on a lengthy nostalgia trip, but let me say that Degradation is what thrash metal is all about. This same energy is reflected in this particular CD with pounding guitar riffs, bass and drum lines and powerful vocals.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A Necessary Evil

This is the initial punch in the face you’ll get, where you definitely know that Joe Manske is behind the drum-kit, beating the skins harder than ever. The guitars are the driving force of this track, though, which is exactly what I want to hear from a song with such a title and would expect no less.

Juggernaut

There is a very rhythmic beat to this one; very fast, but this is the one I would love to thrash to - definitely one to watch for in the mosh-pits. The chorus of this is what really captivates me; the breaks and tempo changes truly give the song an edge that races through your veins. The guitar solos and drum fills are done at a speed that is just incredible, which also reinforce Alex Manske’s vocal style.

The Reckoning
This is a track that seems to carry the true sound of the guitars. The chopping riffs of Mike Hartman and Alex Manske as a duo really shine through with incredible force. The lyrics in particular are geared towards all of us out there that need to explore the psychotic tendencies that race through our heads from time to time. The bass guitar also reinforces this, with somewhat of a “surrealistic” sound. The drums are the backbone for this with an antagonizing beat that sounds like it could come through your skin.
Rise To Fall

What draws me into this track initially, is the drum intro that sounds like a machine gun being fired. However, I think that this definitely works, as it seems to bring more definition to the song, which becomes more triumphant as the number continues. The guitar also lends a demented feeling to the mood Degradation is trying to create. There are also parts of the piece that use some evil, melodic spoken word, creating musical tension.

Trail of Sin

I particularly like this one, because it seems to capture the true epitome of metal while reflecting the distinct style of Degradation. The repetitive, choppy combination of vocals and guitars make this one something built for fist pounding. The chorus kicks into high gear, making it a neck-breaker.

Executioner...Slayer of the Light
This one kicks right from the beginning like a shotgun blast. I guess that a song about a minister of death should rightfully contain a boatload of anger and thus need to reflect that in the music and lyrics. Hartman’s guitar riffs are the perfect complement to that idea and become progressively evident with the pure aggression of the song. However, the lyrics seem to lose a little meaning as the rhyming of the words becomes somewhat redundant. 
Degradation
This entire track is a neck-breaker. This song epitomizes what true metal is all about. Let’s face it, when any band strives towards greatness, it usually comes from the debut album, as that is when they are the hungriest. This song seems to bring together all of the individual elements into one cohesive unit, with incredible speed, that doesn’t become sloppy or tiresome.
Thrill of the Kill

This one reminds me of the earlier days of Venom. Alex Manske and Hartman’s slithery, evil guitar riffs along with Steve Holy’s bass guitar really bring me back to what it is that I like about this kind of music. I particularly like the driving force of the song in which Joe Manske puts his drumming abilities to the test. This is simply a case in which you don’t need to be a serial killer in order to enjoy or relate to the song. It’s just something to which you can bang your head.

 
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