First Degree EP

Written by: AP on 02/10/2012 13:18:01

Although Redeemer tag themselves as a Christian hardcore band, their autobiographical text is adamant that their music has little to do with religion. True enough, their music is more closely aligned with the wave movement, and although vocalist Tanner Swift's lyrics do carry distinct religious undertones, the focus of "First Degree" is on telling a story in a way that most people, regardless of their persuasion, can relate to.

Now, if you're in a good mood or expecting to be put in one by Redeemer's music, you're not going to like anything about "First Degree". The story - told here through five monologues from the point of view of two central characters - centers on a drunken hit'n'run that leaves a young woman and her infant child dead, and as such the thematic context is hardly ambiguous: this is a tale of revenge on the one hand, and of regret on the other. Like La Dispute, particularly on the "Wildlife" album, the music of Redeemer is little more than a dramatic backdrop to the story, the instruments crashing and raging with each emotional slump and outburst of fury in Swift's vocalisation, never stealing the spotlight from his harrowing rhetoric. But unlike La Dispute, whose music on that album is characterized by relatively clean instrumentation, Redeemer's style is much noisier, only adding to the emotive maelstrom of the lyrics, which form the backbone of the music. It is impossible to fully appreciate what the band is trying to do here without the accompanying booklet, though it must be said that for a particularly miserable day, the music itself might be able to provide just the right release as well, for all its chaotic, desperate turmoil.

As a result, the EP is somewhat difficult to rate. Swift's performance of both characters' monologues is riveting, as he truly lives and breathes the themes of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance and sets himself in the position of the characters. But while this contributes to an intense and suffocating experience for the listener, there is also a nagging feeling that we've heard, and felt all of this before. Indeed, the greatest pitfall of the EP is that Redeemer are not particularly original in their approach, drawing influence from the likes of La Dispute, The Saddest Landscape and Vales too heavily to establish themselves as an equivalent force. There is certainly promise here though, and fans of extremely hard-hitting emotional hardcore with excellent lyrics are likely to find plenty to rave about here regardless.


Download: Sorrow and Regret, Whiskey and Smoke, Fury and Chains, Steel and Misery, Time and Escape
For the fans of: La Dispute, The Saddest Landscape, Vales
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.03.2012
Rite of Passage / Mediaskare Records

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