Carrying the flag of Bay Area thrash metal pioneers such as Metallica, Exodus and the likes, comes Degradation‘s debut full length album, Juggernaut. This being the band’s first full length release after 10 years of existence certainly gives quite a high level of expectation, considering the band’s long existence.
The album opens with A Necessary Evil, and the riffs that come out from the speaker instantly remind listeners of bands like the aforementioned Exodus. Vocalist Alex’s style is extremely reminiscent and sounds like Metallica‘s James Hetfield, though he spits out the lyrics to the tracks with more rage and anger, like a cross between Slayer‘s Tom Araya and Exodus‘ Rob Dukes, and this is certainly more interesting than say, Evile‘s Metallica worship on Five Serpent’s Teeth. Unfortunately though, having A Necessary Evil as the opening track could put fans of more energetic thrash metal off as the song soon begins to sound slightly monotonous, and even the guitar solo in the middle of the track does nothing to help the track.
The second track, title track Juggernaut fortunately begins to salvage this through with the sudden jump into more energetic territory, with drummer Joe displaying flair on his instrument. It is also from this track onwards where the band feels as if they were bursting with energy, and this makes for a more enjoyable listen, though it begins to make Alex’s vocals sound weak amongst the onslaught of the instrumental section of the band. The guitar solos also start to go towards more familiar thrash metal territory here as guitarists Mike and Alex constantly engage each other in a dual, backed by the more than capable rhythmic section of Joe and bassist Steve. Riffing on songs like The Reckoning could also fit easily in a Slayer record, further displaying the band’s Bay Area thrash influences.
Throughout the album though, the band get slightly inconsistent with the quality of the tracks, For example, on tracks like Rise to Fall, the soft, spoken vocals put me off slightly, and could have sounded better with a more aggressive vocal attack. Tracks such as this also sound monotonous towards the middle of the track, though the faster and more aggressive tracks make up for the weaker ones (which, unfortunately, mostly come only towards the end of the album). Also, the included The Crown cover, Executioner… Slayer of the Light could perhaps be the best track of the album, displaying each of the band members’ capabilities at their best, shows the potential that each of the members have (even Alex’s vocals sound the strongest on this track), and Juggernaut would have definitely made for a stronger album if the band had stuck to the formula that they had used on songs like the title track.