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To put it simply, Exit Paradise was the album that never lived up to its potential. The abrupt departure of the more competent guitarist Guy Higbey just weeks before recording began saddled the depressingly average Erik Moggridge with the whole of the guitar duties, and the album suffered greatly from the lack of a good soloist.
Of course, if that were the extent of Epidemic's problems, the band probably would have survived this album, but nothing is ever quite that simple. The desire to take the band's style in a more death-metal direction, after the success of their past thrash albums ("success" being a relative term for a metal band in the heyday of grunge) doomed Exit Paradise to an inconsistent sound with some jarringly abrupt ends to songs.
From the opener "Void," the absence of Higbey is evident as Moggridge struggles through the solo, and on the second track "Vulture," he again bows to Slayer's Kerry King by missing several notes by a full octave during a very uninspired lead. From that point, the album actually improves somewhat, though it becomes apparent Moggridge is having great problems playing for two, as is made excruciatingly clear on the hidden cover of Ozzy's "Over the Mountain," minutes into the silence at the end of "To Escape the Void." Vocalist Carl Fulli shifts from his traditional roar to a sometimes-painful death/black growl that still manages to add some desperately needed life to flat guitar lines. Bassist Mark Bodine shines as always, and his playing keeps Exit Paradise from being a complete wash.
Epidemic's demise could be blamed on any number of problems, but the failed experiment in death metal would have gone much better if Higbey had still been present.
This is probably on the lower spectrum of the death metal albums I've heard. Most of the songs tend to be competently played, although they are not extreme mastery on any of the instruments.
It is kind of rare to see a signed band who has a guitar player that sounds like he is only a beginner, there are only a few attempts to solo, which are rather sloppy. The guitar tone sounds rather powerful, but most of the riffs sound very similar throughout the album, very distorted, but not very memorable at all. There are very few memorable riffs if any.
The vocals are sub-par even for a death metal band. His voice is similar to that of Chris Barnes at times, only more coherent. The vocalist reminds me of a more skilled version of the vocalist of Vio-lence. In fact, if Vio-lence were a death metal band, they'd sound alot like Epidemic, minus the catchy riffage.
One would think that their cover of Over the Mountain would be at least remotely enjoyable, but not really, its probably the worst song on the album. The drum work is handled quite competently, but what infuriates me is that when the song breaks down to where their is supposed to me a screeching guitar solo, Epidemic butchers it beyond belief, but then again not everyone could nail it like Randy Rhoads though.
I wouldn't call this uninspiring, but I would call it mediocre at very best. It sounds like many of the unsigned death metal bands around the world and doesn't really offer much new to the table.
Somebody somewhere probably thinks this is the most groundbreaking death metal album ever, and if you do, just email me, and I'd be happy to give it to you, because it doesn't quite match my taste.