There is a saying that goes that a band's second album is always the most difficult to make, since you must improve yourself on all areas, develop your sound a bit (but not too much) and also do it in a limited amount of time. However, it turns out that this is exactly what Degradead has achieved with their sophomore effort Out Of Body Experience. Last year's Til Death Do Us Apart became the best selling debut album ever at Dockyard 1, but the pressure to deliver obviously didn't get to Degradead, who in less than a year have delivered an album that actually beats most of the competing works of later years in this genre, if you ask me.
The production (made by Jonas Kjellgren of Scar Symmetry fame) is a massive improvement, and it makes for a very enjoyable listen when you are able to pick up details, such as Kenneth Helgesson's precise and dynamic drumming. Even better: front man Mikael Sehlin seems to be more secure of himself this time around, and especially his clean vocals are a real treat and really adds something to the picture, something that wasn't the case at all times on the debut, which was produced by members of In Flames. With them out of the picture, Degradead paradoxically sounds more like modern In Flames on this release than on their debut, and also share their idols' abilities to make sure that each and every song contains more hooks than an anglers fishing box.
When I glanced through the track list prior to listening to the album, 14 whole songs struck me as being quite a lot - would this mean that the quality would suffer? Fear not, Out Of Body Experience never seizes to impress and rarely declines, and to maintain the album at such an altitude throughout the whole running time is really a feat in itself. Everything opens with All Is Gone, which style should be familiar to all Degradead-fans, but it also brings something new to the table. With sparkling guitar solos, surprising tempo shifts and a chorus that In Flames would be mighty pleased with, it's a very strong start - and it gets better.
The lion part of the album contains classy melodeath-cuts that are direct to the point and rarely longer than 4 minutes, sometimes with some neat electronic effects and surprisingly often with acoustic passages within them. There are exceptions though, the most interesting one being VXR, which is built purely with thrash riffs and hardcore vocals. There's also the folk music-inspired instrumental Transmigration (which towards the end reminds a bit of the intro to Metallica's Battery) that segues into the track The Burning Orchid. This song has perhaps the catchiest chorus of the whole album, with subtle keyboards in the background, and is comfortably Degradead's greatest song yet. Another favorite is the closer Unfortunate, which flirts heavily with Soilwork's hey-days.
If there are any flaws to be found on Out Of Body Experience, it's the fact that none of the tracks can match its predecessor's strongest weapon Pass Away when it comes to commercial value. One could also argue that the first album was more diverse, but I choose to see the new album as a more coherent and distinct piece of work instead. I must have listened to Out Of Body Experience at least ten times by now, and every time it amazes me how fast 51 minutes flies by.