Maximum Metal Rating Legend
5 Excellent - Masterpiece. A classic.
4.5-4 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a lacking.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio.
2.5-2 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors.
1.5-1 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible - Waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.
Degree Absolute
Degree Absolute
Sensory Records
6/2/2006 - Review by: Etiam
Degree Absolute - s/t - 2006 - Sensory Records

Track Listing
1. Exist 07:40
2. Laughing Alone
3. Questions
4. Confession
5. Distance
6. HalfManHalfBiscuit
7. Pi
8. Ask Nothing of Me
9. Ergo Sum
When reading Degree Absolute’s biography, one might note a peculiar period of hibernation. Though the project was formed in 1999 by Aaron Bell, who constructed the band’s first two demos entirely on his own, it is only seven years later that the self-titled debut album is released. The band’s promotional material and website biography do not go into great detail about this lapse, mentioning only that the album was produced by Neil Kernon (Queensr˙che, Kansas, Nevermore). The reason for this dry spell remains unexplained, but what is indeed evident is the compositional effort put into this album. While Degree Absolute may not yet compose timeless epics, their material does convey a sense of well-crafted patience.

Treading the sometimes thin line between rock and metal can be precarious territory, yet with the balancing beam of the ‘progressive’ tag, Degree Absolute work through their debut consistently, if not too forcefully. The album opens with their heaviest track, ‘Exist’, which alternates between speakers with a low chugging chord and a dissonant harmony that leads into a verse riff more reminiscent of ‘Winds of Creation’ than the Watchtower they were promoted as being similar to. This pace is not sustained, though, as the song eventually moves away from precise, up-tempo E-string wanderings and into reverb melodies and key modulation.

The musicianship is certainly competent and well produced, but as a final product, it does not deliver the psychological punch promised by the daring cover art. Vocalist Aaron Bell channels touches of Ray Alder into his style, and Fates Warning is an obvious musical influence on Degree Absolute’s sound, but Bell, and sometimes the music as well, lack the ethereal conviction provided by their peers.

Even in interview, Bell seems to have only moderate faith in this album’s quality, stating that his current aims vary somewhat from those heard here. Not without its qualities, however, there are certainly memorable moments on this album, though not the sort that stand out and burn themselves upon memory. They are subtler perks, small melodies, harmonies, segues, all that quietly set up shop in a corner of one’s mind, to be hummed unconsciously for days to come. This is a commendable feat, as understated quality is lacking in many of today’s big players; however, without a strong foot put forward, Degree Absolute will have to try again. Perhaps if this album had been released in 2004, the band could already be set to put out a sophomore album—wiser and as more than just a studio troupe.

Debut albums are a poor judge of a band’s eventual quality, though, so a sharp eye is recommended for Degree Absolute. At the very least, it is refreshing to see that progressive music is still being taken seriously, after recent works from the genre’s big names (Queensr˙che, Dream Theater) fell short of the mark.

--Etiam 05.17.06
    1.5 :AVE RATING

Degree Absolute
Sensory Records


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