Published on December 9th, 2017 | by Justin G.
Degreed: Degreed (Sony/Gain)
Here we go. If this was a game, it would be called “leveling up.” Swedish melodic rockers Degreed made all the right moves, and now that has paid off with a major label (Sony’s Gain subsidiary) deal and a new self-titled album aimed squarely at the kind of crossover/mainstream audience that H.E.A.T and Reckless Love so successfully captured. The only thing they had to do was deliver an album that lived up to their promise, and after their three previous releases, was that ever really in doubt?
Degree’s strength has always been in how they’ve weaved melodic rock – and sometimes really hard rock – with a strong pop sensibility, and if anything they’ve dialed up the pop elements on this self-titled release. If you’re familiar with the band’s work, this still sounds like the Degreed you have come to love. The guitar hooks, the ultra-catchy melodies and the soulful vocals are all present and accounted for. Degreed seems aimed towards a much wider audience though, specifically the kind of folks who watch the Swedish singing competition shows. And that’s not a bad thing. If those people hear more accessible songs like “Shakedown” or “Animal” and check out the Degreed album, that’s another group of people who may pick up the next Brother Firetribe or Eclipse album.
Degreed is, overall, a very effective melodic rock/pop crossover album. Beyond that, it’s just a lot of fun to listen to. Yeah, it’s poppier than its predecessors, but they execute it so well you really can’t complain. And even at its catchiest, Degreed still offers up plenty of rocking moments, like the leadoff number “Sugar,” “War” and “Nature of the Beast.” Heavy or poppy, the whole album is really well-written and well-executed. You can tell the band went “all-in” to make this the best possible album.
Hopefully this album results in many more people discovering what the melodic rock community has known for a few years now: that Degreed is one of the brightest new stars in the scene and has tremendous crossover appeal. They’ve put together an album that has what it takes to win over a much wider audience, and one that should more than satisfy their existing fanbase in the process. It’s a late contender for best melodic rock album of 2017, and stacks up really well next to recent releases by H.E.A.T, Eclipse, One Desire and Houston.
Summary: Ultra-catchy crossover melodic rock