Review Summary: Every blastbeat, every agonized scream, every jaw dropping solo, is propelled first and foremost, by the pursuit of justice and peace.
Exit Strategy is a political death-grind band from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. As a grind band, their music is naturally, extremely intense; however, it is still surprisingly accessible for non-grind fans due to their excellent songwriting capabilities and intelligent and meaningful subject matter. It seems pretty crazy to me that a band this good has so far, only gained recognition in the Alberta metal scene, but I think that this is very likely to change in the near future. Exit Strategy’s United States of Amnesia was my first introduction to grind music, and it could be your's too if you’re willing to give this fantastic, albeit obscure band a chance.
Exit Strategy’s line up for United States of Amnesia consisted of Joe Sikorski on guitars, Greg Musgrave on bass, Casey Rogers on drums, and Shane Hawco on vocals. To clarify, the picture for Exit Strategy on Sputnikmusic features their current lineup, with female vocalist Thérèse Lanz. Although there was some controversy among fans over the lineup change, I personally think that the band is just as good as it’s always been with Thérèse; she’s a powerhouse vocalist with a great stage presence! As drummer Casey Rogers said, “I see our choice as swapping one opinionated loudmouth for another!” I couldn’t agree more. Needless to say, all members of Exit Strategy, new and old, are extremely proficient at their respective instruments.
The aforementioned Casey Rogers is basically the bread and butter of the band, holding every song together with tight rhythms that are relentless, varied, and creative. The entire album showcases his exceptional skills, but some of his finest moments are Terrify
. Joe Sikorski goes above and beyond the requirements of the typical grind guitarist, making excellent use of melody in his riffs and performing amazing solos that sit superbly between the slices of grind brutality. Shane Hawco is an absolute monster on vocals, screaming with incredible passion and rage about the subject matter that he obviously believes so strongly in. Greg Musgrave’s bass work is excellent as well, often serving as an excellent partner to the intense drums, but sometimes working independently as well, like at 1:50 in New World Disorder
with the groovy, subdued baseline, set over amusing news clips. Which reminds me;
One of Exit Strategy's trademarks is their heavy use of sampling. Every single song on this album starts with a sample from a news clip, movie, etc. and there is often sampling in the middle of tracks as well. These samples can be very humorous, like at the beginning of The Duality of Man
where a colonel tells his soldier; “you better get your head and your ass wired together or I WILL take a giant *** on you!” after an argument over the incongruity between the soldier’s peace button and “born to kill” helmet (this clip is from the movie Full Metal Jacket). The samples can be very poignant as well, like in the opening of outstanding track Terrify
, where a Middle Eastern man explains, in broken English, the propaganda tactics of the United States government. Intriguing clips like these are cleverly worked into the music all throughout United States of Amnesia. It is a tactic that serves them well, and is a big part of the special sound that I associate with Exit Strategy.
United States of Amnesia is an incredibly powerful album. Not just because it’s a creative and ferocious instrumental onslaught, but because of the notion that every blastbeat, every agonized scream, every jaw dropping solo, is propelled first and foremost, by the pursuit of justice and peace. This inherent meaning crushes any sense that their intensity might be contrived, which is an invaluable quality for any extreme metal band to have. Few musicians have the chops to make an album that is truly memorable, and fewer still can make an album that is politically groundbreaking as well. Exit Strategy achieve both, and for that, they are one of the most exciting new acts in modern extreme music.
-New World Disorder