Released: 29th December 2011
Someone keeps sending me thrash albums; I am a lucky boy indeed! While the titles on the front are always different, I could swear the contents are from one of the big four (and Testament) or from one of the European thrash masters. And if not, the CD is almost always only fit for use as a coaster.
In the case of Degradation's 'Juggernaut', I found what could be a lost Testament album. It opens with single note chugged rhythms, the tune picked out by hammer-ons and plucked notes higher up the fretboard. The album sticks to that formula like their lives depend upon it (and my life often feels that way).
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The sound and production is quite sparse, enough to convince me it was a single guitar band for quite a while. This sparsity does add clarity to the rhythm which is good, unfortunately it comes at a cost to the musicality available when twin guitars are used to the full.
There are some lovely harmony sections and those hammer-ons in the rhythm can be beautifully highlighted when they set their mind to it. The thing I missed was split rhythms, one guitar doing one thing while the other does something complementary.
There are passages of dual guitar but it tends to be limited to difference in the notes only.
The vocals sit between Chuck Billy and Tom Arraya. I enjoyed the intensity coming through in what sounded to me like a natural tone ripping out the lyrics like they were being angrily spewed straight from the heart. It's not something that you hear too often anymore as people strive for ever more extreme and increasingly mundane and undecipherable screeches.
'Juggernaut' is self-released and available through many online retailers. The band have done an admirable job in getting the album out. They list a couple of producers and I'm sure that helped in creating a professional recording.
I found the album to be a veritable thrash juggernaut with its endless stream of similar yet different guitar riffs. Don't expect clever stops or soft acoustic passages and you'll be happy. It's a shame they are from Chicago as I'm sure they'd be stunning live.
Check them out on iTunes or better still, check out the band's own album preview for a taster.