"First Degree" (Fusion Records; 1999)

Reviewed by Alicia Downs

Oh, the nu-metal sounds delivering hard-ons to frat boys and radio DJs across the land. Sometimes I introspect and wonder what all this might mean? In retrospect, I might conclude that it translates to the demise of metal as most of us older than twenty once knew it. But, alas, I cannot hold onto the freedoms of a misguided youth and so I move on and slowly become more accepting of the nu-metal sound. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

All of these obscure ramblings do pertain to my review of Episode One's album "First Degree" since, throughout the duration and listening experience, they were able to present this nu-metal combination of rapcore and hardcore in a way that was actually palatable. The track "Demon" serves up a supreme offering worthy to some of the now defunct metal gods - a track that would make precursors and the older metal generation proud. "Master Plan" as well as "Redemption" were highly entertaining from a musical standpoint, although "I Saw" was more flaccid than Bob Dole pre-Viagra. 

The quartet hails from Maryland that has recently seen a burst of metal heads falling into the "nu" genre with the likes of Nothingface (whom Episode One recognizes in their thank you shout outs) and Dog Fashion Disco. Their musical styling is highly representative of the sound heard from Nothingface although vocally their performance is spoken word rapcore combined with an exploding hardcore chorus. This combination results in a broadened sound that may increase its appeal to fans like myself that find little attraction in the metal/rap mixes of today's youth. 

Simply, the album displays the death of a metal that once tempted and frightened my juvenile mind in favor of the "nu" trend but Episode One manages to do it in a way that is at least bearable and even enjoyable. 

Episode One are: Mike D'agostino (vocals & synth); Rich Stevenson (guitar & synth), Rob Hampshire (bass) and Kevin Scott (drums).

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 1999 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 17 Jul 2022 13:29:13 -0400 .