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3RDegree - The World In Which We Live CD (album) cover

THE WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE

3RDegree

 

Crossover Prog

3.08 | 6 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A debut ahead of its time, while still strangely nostalgic.

The World In Which We Live was the cassette-only debut by New Jersey based 3RDegree, and listening to it really makes one wonder how this band didn't get further right off the bat. Clearly it was hard to find an audience back in the early 90s before the advent of the internet, because this is a very niche album which will appeal to a certain group, and appeal to them well. In the early stages of the band they were a three piece, lacking singer George Dobbs (who would join them for the next outting), but what the band can do even at this point is highly impressive. While the band certainly have not found 'their sound' with this release it makes for a very interesting listen which is almost 'repeat-worthy'.

As with many debuts, the influences on the band are very audible here. Unlike many other debuts, though, hearing the influences loud and clear really is not a problem. Founding member Robert James Pashman often lists Rush as one of his main influences, and it really shines through in the compositions of the songs and in the way he plays his bass on this effort. As with many of Rush's mid-80s efforts there's a strong emphasis on pressing synths and a driving bassline that's really quite lively and dominant. Pat Kliesch also plays his guitar in a similar fashion to the 80s-minimal-nearly-reggae-rock style as did Lifeson or The Police, and yet somehow it all comes together so well without producing any kind of music that might turn off the average prog listener. Even the more catchy songs have very impressive instrumental parts backing them. Bury The Button is a great example of this and likely one of the album's best standouts - floating, yet sharp synths meld with the freeflow of Pashman's bass to create something very much worth listening to.

As for the vocals, they really work well on this release. Even though the band decided to take a step in another direction when they hired George Dobbs to do vocals on their following releases - and he is a fantastic singer - Pashman does an ample job with the mic on this release. He has limitations and he knows them, but his style of vocals almost (now) brings to mind something of a more rock oriented Phideaux as his voice is somewhat quirky, and a little creepy when he wants it to be. If you're worried about a potential lack of vocal power that's apparent on later albums just know that you have nothing to fear.

One of the striking things about this album is its release date. This was released back in 1993 and listening to it now it doesn't really seem too dated. There's parts of this album that other bands have since been praised for doing, such as the Gentle Giant approach of harmonized vocals in a more modern way as shown on the short but harshly effective Dancing Over Scarlet Mist, something that bands like Spock's Beard would be praised for reviving years later.

The album also has an immense amount of charm which really makes you want to come back for more and more listens. Songs like Breathing Room mix a good deal of heavy riffs with more light vocal passages to bring to mind something like the better of the 80s Blue Oyster Cult discography while others such as Is There Anyone? tells a memorable story overtop of well played music. Hopeful makes the best out of some very abrupt speed changes which are almost spine-chilling when you're listening to the song in anticipation. The Lit Window is another excellent standout that uses some very nostalgic keyboards to bring in a lush intro which is joined by some emotive guitars and a great vocal performance.

The album has since been remastered onto cd and is available on the band's website, but they also added in a few goodies. The original album was only 10 tracks long, but the band have added a plethora of bonus tracks which are excellent when taken separately from the flow of the album. These are the kind of bonus tracks which people want to hear - they're not just demos of the songs on the album or really bad songs that were cut for a reason, these a full fledged songs which simply didn't make it onto the original album because of spacial constraints. There's one song that's repeated, the early demo of Come My Way (which didn't make it onto the album) which is in two versions, 1990 and 1991, but they're so different that even played back to back it's difficult to hear similarities. There's also a Todd Rundgren cover track that appeared on a cover album called Still There's More some years later that the band added to the list to make it available to the fans who don't want to hunt down the whole cover album. A great choice of extras give this particular compilation just that added boost.

While the album does have a lot of elements that did not work for other bands during their 'slower periods' (depending on how you see the music, anyways) - they all seem to work here for 3RDegree. This debut album is highly impressive, to say the least, and while later albums like Human Interest Story would see the band as more mature in their writing and Narrow-Caster would find them as more musically accomplished this album is certainly worth checking out for those who enjoy the band on any level. Highly recommended if you've ever like an 80s Rush album, particularly Grace Under Pressure or Power Windows - 3.5 stars out of 5! Perhaps not essential, but certainly worth a look.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |

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