Review by Woody
Sweden’s Degreed return with their second album We Don’t Belong. Back on board from the debut is producer Erik Lidbom who also contributes to the song writing including a couple of co-writes with Bill Champlin of Chicago fame.
I liked their debut album Life, Love, Loss but I LOVE We Don’t Belong! This opus sees Degreed really kick it up a notch and give us a damn fine Next Gen melodic rock album. The songs all combine elements of AOR and melodic rock like upfront keyboards, lush harmonies and big ass choruses, but with a more contemporary and modern sound. At ten tracks long we are given a solid no filler album touching near perfect status. It’s very strong lyrically too, it does cover the sort of subject matter you’d expect from a melodic rock album, but it’s never cheesy and avoids cliché’s. There is some really great lyric’s here and it’s great to see some songwriter’s actively trying to make something relatable and avoiding the usual melodic rock pitfalls.
I really enjoy vocalist Robin Ericsson’s vocal style, gritty and powerful and above all emotive. His voice gives some of the really beautiful and atmospheric songs on We Don’t Belong an intensely emotional presence; he really sets the bar high on the epic title track ‘We Don’t Belong’, ‘What If’ and ‘Inside of Me’. Modern rock tends to entail the omission of keyboards not with these guys and Micke Jansson’s keys are lavishly layered through every song. The heavy use of keyboards is a really strong part of the album for me with some extremely infectious moments and some killer hooks!
Guitarist’s Jesper Adefelt and Daniel Johansson are melodic guitar geniuses. The album does have some heavy moments most notably on opening cut ‘Black Cat’ but it’s the highly melodic guitar licks and riffs that really grab my attention and these guys prove you can be modern without going heavy and you can still playing intricately beautiful guitar pieces.
I have to highlight my current favourite song as I’m totally addicted to it ‘Blind Hearted’. A powerful song with an angst fuelled sing along chorus, I love the lyrics and it’s a really emotive track, Catchy as hell an absolutely killer song!
We Don’t Belong is a near perfect slice of modern melodic rock which proves the future of the genre is very healthy! I was totally blown away by it and can’t stop playing it; I could get really fanatical about these guys! All these songs are engulfed with vocal harmonies and intensely enjoyable melodies along with killer keyboard and melodic guitar licks, surely it makes this one of the albums of the year. If you’re into melodic rock and AOR but really want something that doesn’t feel dated, check this one out, cause Degreed have brought AOR bang up to date in all its delicious melodic glory! This is truly something special!
Track Listing: Black Cat / What If / In For The Ride / Inside Of Me / Follow Her Home / Blind Hearted / Here I Am / Access Denied / Coming Home / We Don’t Belong
Album Rating: 10/10
Woody’s Essential Track: Blind Hearted
Track By Track review:
Opening Cut ‘Black Cat’ is probably the heaviest track on this album and opens proceedings with a bang! It has a really memorable chorus and some hugely enjoyable guitar melodies. I adore the infectious keyboard hooks on lead single ‘What If’ which gives the song a great up-tempo energy. The Huge sweeping chorus is supported by a great vocal performance from Robin. ‘In For The Ride’ has a big bright shiny sing along chorus, its modern AOR with tinkley keyboards and catchy melodies.
‘Inside of Me’ is emotive and passionate with another stunning performance from Robin. It has a really memorable chorus and big catchy vocal harmonies. There are plenty of fantastic hooks throughout this one. ‘Follow Her Home’ is an atmospheric and beautiful piece of musical orchestration. It’s epic and bombastic chorus is coupled with some killer keyboard and guitar licks. I’m totally addicted to ‘Blind Hearted’. A powerful song with an angst fuelled sing along chorus, I love the lyrics and it’s a really emotive track, Catchy as hell an absolutely killer song!
‘Here I Am’ is a beautiful song with a powerful melodic chorus engulfed in vocal harmonies, with killer keyboards throughout. The Catchy as hell ‘Access Denied’ is a high energy rocker with lovely sweeping keyboards. The harmony drenched chorus is out of this world! ‘Coming Home’ has a driven guitar riff and an infectious keyboard hook. It has a real feel good vibe to it along the lovely chorus with its lush and beautiful melody. Title track ‘We Don’t Belong’ is an epic sounding ballad which is really powerful and emotive. Another bang on vocal performance from Robin and I really do adore the vocal melodies on this one. It has some really cool lyrics and outstanding keyboard work from Micke as well as a lighter waving chorus.
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