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Grade
Headfirst Straight To Hell

by Samuel Barker
August 10, 2001

File Under: Hardcore/Metal/Emo
rating: B+
tracks

1. Termites Hollow

2. Becoming Not Being

3. In The Wake Of Poseidon

4. Bleeding Warm & Newly Dead

5. Overthrowing Creation Itself

6. Little Satisfactions

7. Vertical Transmissions

8. Will Bending

9. In Ashes We Lie

10. The Sixth Chamber

11. The Empress

12. Twenty Moons

13. The Glorious Dead

related links
  • Grade
  • Victory Records
  • Talk about making waves before you even get in the pool. At the time I am writing this interview this album has already been banned from Best Buy stores for the graphics on the cover. As you can see to the right of the review, the cover is a depiction of the artist's vision of Hell. There is the "shocking" image of uncovered women's breasts on the cover, but any price tag could cover that up. Maybe it's the whole shocking image of Hell. Anyway, in order to be fair, I will allow you to make your own judgement, Click here for the full sized image!

    Despite this looming over the album, the music of Grade stands on it's own two feet. Coming with a full aural assault of pure emotional release. This band channels it's anger and emotional turmoil and just expells it through it's music.

    This album is a step forward for Grade, it's a closer mixture of the new material and the older material. With the release of The Embarrassing Beginning, new fans were able to get a taste of where Grade was coming from, so it made this release a lot easier to swallow.

    The album begins with "Termites Hollow." This song is downright wicked. It hits you right away with a barrage of sound. The song explores all the sounds from the past to the present. I was amazed how this band gets tighter and tighter over time. The refrain in the middle of the song is a good way to allow the listener to relax, but it isn't long before it's going full speed again.

    "Becoming Not Being" sounds a bit off. The screams aren't really in time with the music, it gives you the hectic feel of a breakdown. I'm not sure that's supposed to be the mood, so it's hard to make a distinction. It pulls together after the first verse and keeps going smoothly.

    At times the screams feel a little out of place and add a feeling of disarray, but in the end, how can something so emotional be completely focused. This band really defies labels with this release, it's not really melodic punk with a hardcore edge, nor is it melodic hardcore, it's an amalgamation of metal, hardcore, punk, pop, and emo that make everything have a unique feel to it. Which has been a trademark of this band from the beginning.

    One of the impressive parts of this CD is Kyle Bishop's vocal range. He can go from a pained, tortured scream to a melodic, inviting voice within the same verse and never sound ridiculous. It's a testament to the overall ability of this band.

    "Little Satisfactions" is the song I totally fell in love with on this record. It's a good mix of all the sounds, but it's very easy to swallow.

    The sound relaxes on on "In Ashes We Lie." It allows you to drop your guard and feel the somber mood of the lyrics, but then it explodes and knocks you right back into the mix. It's a great ambush if you will. The musical work is supurb on this song. I really enjoyed this track.

    "The Glorious Dead" brings the album to a close in a deeply eeiry way. The sound that opens the track is haunting and gives a feeling of discomfort. It's a long wait with this sound always attacking your mind. Finally as the sound is about to drive you made a strange, almost whimsical, guitar part begins. It's a severe contrast to the previous sounds. The music then just fades away, it's a fitting end to this album.

    This album is an emotional rollercoaster for the lister, so you can only imagine the experiences that have led to these ideas and songs. Grade is a shining star in a dead sky of unoriginal music. They have the ability to make change in the music scene by not being afraid to sound different and combines sounds to make their own unique mixure. This album will be available on August 21, so be sure to make it out to your local independent record store to buy it, or mailorder it through Victory Records.

    Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.


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