It may have taken many years, a tank full of dedication and obvious hard work for Chicago thrash metalers Degradation to get to the point of releasing their debut album but for us destined to eagerly devour its thrilling aggressive sounds that faith and determination has paid off wonderfully. Juggernaut is not necessarily the beast in its title but it is one impressively consuming stirring ride of runaway metal. A release that lights up every sense and comes armed with all the essences that make metal an undeniable addiction.
Formed in 2001 by guitarist and vocalist Alex Manske, guitarist Mike Hartman, and drummer Joe Manske, Degradation has strived and fought tirelessly to get their sounds out there in. The music worlds at times an ungrateful beast has made their journey long but for us on this evidence worthwhile. 2007 saw the band’s debut EP Unleashed released, its four tracks gaining them some good media acclaim and response. Bassist Steve Holy joined the band in 2009 with the following year seeing the band entering the studio to create Juggernaut. Consisting of eight vibrant and constant blood pumping energy, the album gets its release via the bands own means and is destined to grab them world attention for its fine thrash/metal sounds.
Juggernaut is certainly not the most original thrash album made in that it does not have any break through or distinctly new things to bring to the ear but it is so wonderfully full on with prime thrash metal aggression that ignites the senses it is easily one of the most rewarding releases this year. It is dynamic, mischievous and a deeply appetising powerful explosion of fluid and invigorating aggressive riffs and magnetic cutting steely melodies that go deep far beyond the ear. There is no pretence from Degradation on their release; it is simply a nonstop giving of proud and honest rock ‘n’ roll.
Sound wise the band’s music has very visible influences from and touches of the likes of Testament, Exodus and of course Metallica, but they also explode with the violence of a Slayer to create their own maybe not unique but distinct sound. Opening track ‘A Necessary Evil’ slams right into the ear from its opening riffs. Forceful with high energy and eagerness it rumbles and grumbles pleasingly. The guitars are fluid and undemanding whilst the bass of Holy is a deep and satisfying tease. Vocally Manske recalls James Hetfield without truly sounding like him which is a bit of a puzzle but adds to a strong song.
From here on in things really pick up. The title track packs in incessant pummelling riffs and a cascade of tumbling rhythms to inflame the heart. The track is a pulsating intense continual stomp upon the ear spiced with great creative guitar from Manske and Hartman countered by the unforgiving drums of J. Manske. This leads into a trio of excellent tracks that really show Degradation are a fine and formidable band.
‘The Reckoning’ is playful yet direct and hard and shows the bands excellent individual skills off clearly and that they as a band are extremely tight and accomplished. ‘Rise To Fall’ and ‘Trail of Sin’ carry on the quality and energetic high paced attack. Never taking a step back the band thrust and thrash into the ear and beyond to feed and pleasure all the senses. The first song is a no frills but all thrills meaty shredding feast whilst the latter of the two attaches itself with a raw hardcore punk tone to sound like a mix between Testament and Biohazard.
There is simply no weakness across the album though their cover of The Crown’s ‘Executioner… Slayer of the Light’, great though it is does not have the vibrancy and undeniable fresh eagerness heard elsewhere on Juggernaut. The album though is a nonstop trash/metal slab of deep pleasure. Degradation may not be bringing something to leave your jaw on the floor but with Juggernaut they have gifted the year with a release that ticks all the boxes and treats the heart.