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Metal/Prog Metal Concert Reviews


Live in Dekalb, Illinois, April 2011

Review by Travis Jensen

If you have ever been to The House Café in downtown Dekalb, then you are probably aware that it is a great place to see live music, as well as an atmosphere that welcomes bands that aren’t your typical bar-bands. The House showcases all-original bands, more specifically, and the type of music you will hear is not your mainstream, watered down radio pop. When I think of any of the bands that I’ve ever heard over the last 20 years, there are many that I like, but few that I’ve felt are innovative on developing their own, distinct style that sets them aside from the rest. Degradation is such a group. Within the first 30 seconds of the first song, I was captivated; not only with the music, but the commanding stage presence of the band as a whole.

There were a couple other bands that were to follow, so each group had to make the best of the short time they had, so Degradation wasted no time in getting right to the point, which was straight-up, in-your-face metal. What I noticed right away from these guys is that they seem to have an old-school style to their music, and aren’t following any trend in what is forced down your throat in the media. If you ever liked Venom, Exodus, Overkill or Testament, then you will love Degradation! These guys have a true talent that goes beyond being just a group of guys banging away on stage. These guys have an electrifying sound that is very tight musically that cuts through the air like a bolt of lightning.

The set list was a combination of several powerful songs that consisted of some tracks from their latest album, as well as some previously recorded material, and even a cover song for a little bit of old-school flavor. “A Necessary Evil” was the first song, and let me tell you, I was blown away in amazement at how great Alex Manske’s vocals were! This isn’t just a guy screaming into the microphone. It is a guy who really knows how to sing with power which possesses great control.  “Disillusion” was the next song, and really seemed to pick up momentum as the crowd started to get into the music. “Thrill of the Kill” was my favorite song, as it reminded me of an early Venom track. “Rise to Fall” was next, and at this point I noticed the diversity that each song had. It didn’t become redundant as some bands do. “Over the Wall” by Testament was the next song, and if you want to hear the original, then purchase The Legacy. However, if you want to hear one of the best cover versions of it, then you need to see a live Degradation show. “Disposable Juggs” was the next song to follow, and the show finished with “Executioner…Slayer” of the Light, which was originally written by The Crown and also the last track on their Juggernaut LP.

I also had the pleasure to meet these guys before the show, and let me say that they are very serious, well-versed in their knowledge of music. Their level of enthusiasm also carries on to the stage, which is also returned by the energy from the crowd, which the band seems to thrive on. Overall, the guitars were very precise and tight because Alex Manske and Mike Hartman seem to know instinctively what the other is playing, and they feed off of one another, similar to the interplay between Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman from Slayer. The rhythm section has a style of their own, both with their presence and powerful beat. Joe Manske plays the drums like he’s out for revenge, and Steve Holy plays the bass with an on-stage charisma that I could only match to Cliff Burton, from the early Metallica years.

Travis Jensen
Travis Jensen
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at
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