United State Of Amnesia
posted on 3/2008 By:
"Marine, what is that button on your body armor?"
"A peace symbol, sir!"
"What is that you've got written on your helmet?"
"Born to kill, sir!"
"You've got 'born to kill' written on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What's that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?"
If you don't know where that quote comes from, then I'm never hanging out with you.
Here’s a band called Exit Strategy, an album called United State Of Amnesia, and songs with titles like "The Hand Of Victory Holds The Pen Of History" and "New World Disorder." So it's politically minded and topical. (I’m gonna take a wild guess and say it’s at least partly inspired by a certain war in a certain far-off desert...) Not surprisingly, considering its overtly left-wing sloganeering, it’s rooted in grindcore, although like many modern grinders, it’s equally influenced—at times, arguably more influenced—by death metal. Taking into account the obvious sociopolitical anti-Bush-administration stance, I find it a bit strange that Exit Strategy is Canadian. Or maybe that isn’t so surprising either… (They should’ve named the band “Exit Strategery.”)
Hailing from the part of Canada that lies between the part of Canada that brought you Rush and the part of Canada that brought you Annihilator, Exit Strategy is a four-piece who blend grind with spastic tech-death. This isn’t Cripple Bastards crusty hardcore-times-twenty; this is more experimental, more complicated than that. It’s a twisting combination of stop-start rhythms and atonal skronks, chunky riffs juxtaposed against a few fluid runs, plus the genre-requisite blastbeats and scathing vocal attack. In case you missed the lyrical bent, United State is chock-full of samples, all pertaining to war or oil or war for oil, and it ends with a Bushism and the Emergency Broadcast System tone. (The exchange with which I opened this review also opens the album—it’s not just some random quote I pulled out of my ass.)
Grindcore releases, as much as I love them (which is a lot), always suffer from the same review. (“The songs all sound the same…this is an overall listening experience…like it or don’t…”) Like most death/grinders, Exit Strategy attempt to avoid that critique by writing longer, more intricate songs that offer more than twenty seconds of pure adrenaline, but on this one, they avoid the grind-song criticism by running headlong into the tech-death-song criticism. By that I mean, the ever-changing riffing, while interesting, makes it hard to view these songs as anything more than just a big bag o’ riffs instead of a cohesive whole. So after all that, you end up at the same place: it’s still better to take United State as one piece, I think, rather than breaking it down into individual songs. Over repeated listens, each track has a few really memorable riffs and moments, but the samples are what made each track stick. I found myself thinking, “Which song is ‘Blood’ again? Oh, yeah, the one with the newscast…”
At the end of the day, United State Of Amnesia is a solid release. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I’m not jumping up and down about it. It’s a good death/grind record, nothing more and certainly nothing less. Fans of a head-spinning bludgeoning riffola will find moments of merit here, and I’m interested in hearing where the band goes next.
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