Review Summary: Catchy, Emotional, and Powerful, Under the Radar has it all.
, how criminally underappreciated you are. Whenever I bring them up in a conversation, I am usually met with a bewildered reaction. While it is true that most emo bands never gained much mainstream popularity, it seems Grade is relatively unknown even amongst my well listened social dynamic. I think this is a real shame, because with Under The Radar
, Grade created one of, if not my all time favorite hardcore album.
One of the first things you notice upon playing opening track "The Inefficiency of Emotion" is the use of tight, melodic riffing. Grade plays with a slightly less spastic style than their contemporaries, which is what drew me to this album initially. Another factor that enamored me to this release was the lack of screaming. While there is quite a bit of screaming in Under The Radar, it is for the most part subdued and outnumber by the clean singing. While the Singer’s voice is rough, it conveys emotion extremely well, which leads me to the next point about the power of Grade, the raw emotion.
Like many bands often associated with Grade, the use of emotion is what makes the music truly great. Songs like "The Inefficiency Of Emotion" and "The Worst Lies Are Told In Silence", evoke strong emotions of anger and sadness. This, in conjunction with the well written, if at times cliché lyrics, is probably Grade’s biggest draw.
Before you go on thinking that all of what Grade does is good (while much of it is), there are a few drawbacks this album suffers from. The first is Simplicity. While the guitar riffing is tight, it is sometimes overtly simplistic, relying on strummed power chords and medium speed arpeggio leads. The drumming does a nice job of keeping the beat, and even throws in a few interesting fills, but its evident that he is there to be a timekeeper. The bass is very hard to hear unless you have speakers with an EQ on them, but once I pulled the bass up in the mix, I was surprised. The bassist does not usually follow the guitars, and can most of the time be found creating grooving lines that make it a shame that he is so far down in the mix.
Another major issue with this cd is repetitiveness. Barring a few exceptions, most notably "For the Memory of Love" (which pulls off a little more atmospheric feel), and "A Year in the Past, Forever In the Future" (which has more in common with Drive Like Jehu than Saetia), the songs here are an awful lot alike. While all being high quality, a little change here and there would have been beneficial, and this makes Under the Radar difficult to listen to in one sitting.
On this album, the quality is heavily weighted to the far front and back. While this does start and end the music on a high note, I can’t help but think that if a little more effort were put into the middle songs, that this would be a nearly flawless record.
One track that I believe needs mentioning, but hasn’t made its way into this review, is "Triumph and Tragedy". If there was one Grade song to show someone, it would be this. It’s not radically different from the rest, but it is the pinnacle of Grade’s sound. The lyrics are well written, the music sucks you in, and the vocals are catchy. This is the perfect way to end the album, and the stand out song on the cd.
If you are a fan of hardcore, emo, or even post-hardcore, you owe it to yourself to check out this cd. It is one of my personal favorites, and also one of the most played cds on my itunes.
-The Inefficiency of Emotion
-Triumph and Tragedy
-For the Memory of Love
-Year in the Past, Forever In the Future
Final Rating: 4/5