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Redeemer - "First Degree" (CD/EP)

Redeemer - "First Degree" CD/EP cover image

"First Degree" track listing:

1. Sorrow And Regret
2. Whisky And Smoke
3. Fury And Chains
4. Steel And Misery
5. Time And Escape

Reviewed by on March 5, 2012

"Featuring storytelling in its most raw and brutal form, Redeemer's 'First Degree' will draw you into its web of rage, wrath and redemption for a truly emotional experience."

A descent into pure misery, hardcore act Redeemer's "First Degree" finds the merest sliver of hope at the end of its five songs. It's fascinating in its examination of a human tragedy, but also harrowing to listen to, with the music taking a near-complete backseat to the lyrics.

Reviewing an album like this is a bit difficult because one doesn't want to give away too much of the story. Suffice it to say that the cycle begins with a drunken driving crash that kills a man's wife and child and continues to spiral downward, with murder and imprisonment following.

Though it's split into five separate "songs," this disc really is made to be listened to in one sitting. Take, for example, the way "Whisky And Smoke" delivers its cliffhanger ending with the lyrics "He thinks he knows suffering, he knows nothing yet ..." with a moment or two of silence before the torture begins anew in "Fury And Chains."

The songs almost feel as though Tanner Swift shouted his way through the lyrics in one setting, with the rest of the band members adding their parts later — and it completely draws you into the story. That said, there are some neat instrumental moments, especially when the band speeds things up in "Sorrow And Regret" and "Fury And Chains."

A self-professed Christian act, the band never "preaches" per se, but shows the moment in which grace just may be attainable to a man who has done and experienced things more horrible than most of us could contemplate.

Featuring storytelling in its most raw and brutal form, Redeemer's "First Degree" will draw you into its web of rage, wrath and redemption for a truly emotional experience.

Highs: Raw, brutal storytelling.

Lows: None to speak of, though the music is definitely in a supporting role to the lyrics.

Bottom line: An excellent exercise in storytelling, with the music in almost a supporting role.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)