Sometimes the provenance of a band's music is clouded by time and range of influence, just as often it stands out like a wart on your wang. THIRD DEGREE play Grindcore that makes no bones about its lineage, it celebrates a heritage of Crust and hard Punk as much as it does the Gatling Gun Grind.
What is as equally clear is that THIRD DEGREE inject intelligence into their songwriting, the kicking is concentrated on areas where it will gain maximum effect, an all out blast-fest is avoided, synapses are twisted before they are snapped. As well as the rabid gnashing in the vocals, there is also a gruff polemic that reminds of Jaz Coleman and that gives the lyrics a preaching power that would otherwise be absent.
There is really something for everyone of an extreme bent here, from the self evident “From Simple Punks” to the Crust 'n' Grind of “Thoughts,” the veer towards Doomy waters that is “Pathic” or the galloping Grind of “Millennium Of Recycling Christ.” As such, that should tell you that this album benefits from variety, something missing from a lot of Grind, it has to be said though that the delivery is austere and somewhat stark, that suits me down to the ground but those of you that need a grab of groove may not be quite as content.
What separates THIRD DEGREE from the prevailing winds though is the willingness to sail into uncharted waters and so the barnstorming of the the title track is broken by discordant shards that add bite to the bounce. The knives are out elsewhere too, stabbing melody leaves petechiae over the body of this work, mostly it smarts but occasionally it verges on the uplifting, as evidenced by “...And Now Something Completely Different.” The slow burning “Pathic” caps the album with a brooding ambience that shuns speed to concentrate on simmering discontent, infrequent heavy sludge riffs drop in to reinforce the hardness of sound.
“Punk Sugar” is a refreshing (though not exhilarating,) take on Grind, it is as thoughtful as it is forceful, it picks the lock to your door as often as it kicks it down. It acknowledges the forefathers yet ignores its cousins, THIRD DEGREE mean business, they leave the kids to play in the shit pit.
(Online June 3, 2008)