What is it one can say about Grade? They seem to eclipse any classification, although it seems their music is more on the heavier side of things. While Headfirst Straight to Hell does the typical "we're not a hardcore band" thing and plays out a few hardcore songs and then throws in some mellow intro, outro, or instrumental number, Grade can still throw listeners for a loop. Singer Kyle Bishop was made to yell hardcore. There's no doubt about that. Yet, there's something sloppy but cute when he does his singing on the album. In many ways, Headfirst Straight to Hell seems almost a disappointment in light of the territory that Grade could have and should have taken. One recalls when Grade first started getting attention, after they were finished with Second Nature and it seemed that many individuals were inspired by their potential to take hardcore to the next level. Unfortunately, with the release of The Embarrassing Beginning, it just about destroyed the career of Grade, displaying their shallow, metal beginnings. No serious musician would ever want to make known the poor songwriting and musicianship that was included on there. Whereas Under the Radar, their first full-length for Victory, displayed a great deal of potential, The Embarrassing Beginning seemed to set the band back and Headfirst Straight to Hell isn't enough to recover. Rather, it seems to find Grade stagnant (with a few exceptions, such as the new age instrumental track that closes out the album). An adequate album, with its share of catchy choruses and the aforementioned typical hardcore "shtick" of intro/outro/instrumental deals, but other than that, much of this starts to run together. Guitars blend into guitars and drums play out to unmemorable beats. Catchy this, catchy that, but none of it lives up to the expectations that many hardcore fans had for this band, nor does it live up to the creativity that a band like Grade should be capable of producing.
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AllMusic Review by Kurt Morris