"Grade / Believe Split" CD (Workshop)
I originally bought this because I enjoyed what Grade had become - however, this largely focuses on chugga-chugga riffs and most of the musically interesting ideas that Grade would later express aren't present here. As far as Believe's songs go, they are really only interesting from a historical perspective because they match Johnny Lubera and Greg Taylor (who would subsequently play together in Jersey). The most engaging musical idea is Johnny's bass playing, which, while not as interesting here as it would later be, is still leagues beyond most punk bands and is one of the main reasons to pay attention.
"Headfirst Straight To Hell" CD (Victory)
Every so often, an album's title reveals its character - while I love what Grade did on "Under The Radar," this album missed the mark so widely that bystanders are still being treated for injuries. While there are a couple of songs on this album worth the time, the rest of it isn't even close to the stunning artistic accomplishment that was "Under The Radar." Instead, what winds up on this disc is a collection of songs that sound half-conceived and formed, and poorly produced. Another part of the problem, and this was a rather significant issue when the album came out, is that it's an incredibly violent record - it isn't filled with the sort of casual misogyny that some artists embody, but instead embodies the idea of violent acts directed at one person instead of a gender. Lyrics like "Every word she said / Lured me into surrounding / My fingers around her throat / Now I roll along / With her severed head" may be an artistic statement, but I'm hard-pressed to find artistic merit in that statement. I believe in free speech, but part and parcel of that is being able to choose what I listen to and I am choosing not to listen to this record again.