Grader is a hardcore band from Aberdeen that got my interest ever since their first release I’d rather be the rocks than a fucking wreck came out. I kept an eye out for them and loved the demo they did back in 2011; it included a cool Danzig cover. Last year they came with Amnesty, an EP that only contained two tracks. Yet, it was enough to gain more attention and keep me longing for more. A pattern soon emerged: every year they seem to put out new material, so I expected a release this year, and I was right. Grader has brought us Underheaven on TDON records (just like Amnesty). Underheaven is another EP, but the longest they have released so far. This record counts seven tracks and even holds a few surprises. Grader is known for the darker and more emotional approach towards Hardcore and are a perfect example of the UKHC sound. However, this release surprised me because some of the tracks are more straight forward, hard hitting and in your face.
The release starts with ‘The Truth’, one of the surprises I mentioned earlier. I expected the dark/emotional vibe that Grader usually goes for but instead the song starts off with an eery riff and an even more unpleasant Charles Manson speech about truths. Swiftly, this vibe turns into hard hitting drums and the screams start immediately “Are you consumed by hatred?” If that’s not in your face, I don’t know what is. After that, ‘Carry Water’ introduces the emotional vibe in to this record. It’s an uptempo song with a punk vibe and enough emotion; it reminds me of songs on Amnesty.
‘Underheaven’ is a slow pace song that continues the emotional level heard on ‘Carry Water’, only reaches further. Liam Manson’s voice balances between screams and cleans, and you can almost hear the deep depression. His raw and dark (almost) screams are supplemented by two clean voices that fit perfectly within the tone of the song. It makes a perfect contrast and adds a sense of beauty to this song about broken hearts and lost love. This is a great song to catch your breath or just sob about your ex-girlfriend.
We can get back to moshing with ‘The War Inside’. Just like ‘The Truth’, it’s hard hitting and straight forward. The drums hit hard at mid-tempo, the vocals are uncompromising, and the riffs are shredding. The song ‘Parts’ sounds like a combination of ‘The War Inside’ and ‘Carry Water’; there are clean chants noticeable in the background of the song and gives it a punk edge that is not uncommon in Grader. The sixth song ‘Swiss’ was their choice as a single for this record. It’s not a bad song and it has gotten some great responses from the fan base. If it was up to me I would have chosen another song to release as a single. This song is not outstanding on this record and has no surprises. It sounds just like an evolved version of the 2011 demo.
Underheaven ends with the song ‘On my mind’, which has a thirty second intro before the vocals kick in. Another slow pace track with a raw edge. It has a very atmospheric sound and shows us the experimental side of Grader. They’ve added some instrumental parts that sound almost post-rock and there are some vibes noticeable in the approach of the track that you can find in Fugazi or Rites of Spring. It is the perfect track to cool off and just seems like the perfect end to a great record.
It seems like Grader has put a lot of effort in to the order of the songs; it all just make sense. It has the perfect beginning, a middle part that flows well into one another, and a subtle ending to cool off. Grader really have outdone themselves this time. The release holds a few surprises and sounds refreshing on more than just one level. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next release but till then O’ll be spinning this record a lot, and I advice that you should do to. If you like More Than Life, Dead Swans, Carpathian, Touche Amore, Last Witness, Landscapes or anything released on TDON records I think you will get into this easily!
Track List – Underheaven
1) The Truth
2) Carry Water
4) The War Inside
7) On My Mind
Written by Nigel