Album: First Degree
Label: Rite OF Passage
Redeemer really caught me by surprise. There I was, minding my own business, giving their new EP First Degree a listen for a review. The first song “Sorrow and Regret” started off really somberly with the story of a man who’s wife and kid left him, and he then commits a hit and run in his drunken state of sadness. A sullen song, but this is nothing I haven’t already been exposed to before. Next song comes on, and they’re telling another story. I was messaging my friend Keenan and went “oh this new band I’m reviewing tells stories, not too bad,” then when out of nowhere I realized that the two stories mixed, but from a new perspective. Four out of the five songs on First Degree tell the story of the husband and father of the two hit and run victims from “Sorrow and Regret.” Immediately intrigued, I decided to listen on.
I’m not going to go into the story too much, because half of the appeal of this EP is discovering what happens next in the story. Anyone who knows me understands that I’m a really sucker for overarching stories within records, so from that perspective, I really liked First Degree. Musically the record was good, but at times instrumentation was more of an after-thought in comparison to the lyrics. The music did do a good job of accompanying the story that was being told (despite the very digital sounding drums), but to that point the story was a little predictable. Within the hardcore scene there are a few bands that are using stories as a way of conveying their message (Defeater, La Dispute, Pianos Become the Teeth) and it seems as if they too are trying to get on this train of a new style of hardcore. They do a pretty good job of mimicking this style, but I feel as though there was a little bit of a lack of originality within the EP.
The last song on the record, without giving away too much, is a come to terms with oneself and God, and it’s a solid track. Keenan is my friend who’s ear I talk off about music, and when I’m trying to get my thoughts down I’ll go onto his Facebook chat and just start typing things that I’m thinking, and one of the things I said to him, and I quote, “it feels like they wrote the album just so they could make this one song.” “Time and Escape” is a song about finding peace in God despite hardships, and as someone who went to a Catholic high school and went through some tough times himself, I understand the message they are trying to push here. The entirety of this EP however feels like it was just a set up for this one song, and it left me a little unsatisfied to be completely honest. I didn’t feel that much of a connection with the character, so when he has his epiphany at the end of the story I felt neither here nor there about the situation. It happened and that was it.
Now I know I sound negative in my review, but there are some positive aspects to First Degree. The opening monologue section of the album is absolutely fantastic, and singers style of singing is very raw, and in a good way. Redeemer’s First Degree is a solid effort at the concept album style, but it honestly feels rushed (which is probably due to having five songs on the album). Give this record a listen when it comes on April 10, and let UTG know what you think.
Written By: Tyler Osborne (Twitter)