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Epidermis - Genius of Original force CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.36 | 30 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars As the later 70's unwound and Gentle Giant was slowly eroding itself through a series of increasingly deceiving albums, a few imitators came out of the woodwork, such as Quebec's Et Cetera, the New England However and the German Epidermis. Although most of these groups could qualify a bit as clones, I'd rather not indulge with such epithet, because cloning such an incredibly complex band as GG, is much more than just copying. And usually, of those three, Epidermis gets almost unanimously dissed, which I find rather unfair, because albums like this could easily quench your thirst for more classic GG albums as they really waned from Missing Piece onwards. First I'd like to say that they were they only one of those groups that managed to release between three and five albums (the exact number is still a mystery to me), and that if Epidermis does not bring outside elements from other bands (if a more prominent use of the electric guitar), they were only a quartet (GG was six) and they make a credible GG proxy, singing in English and being relatively close in the vocal dept. With a bit of imagination, you could take this album as a follow-up to Intervie'. Released on the ultra-small Kerston label, the album is graced with filtered-modified picture of a Roman amphitheatre.

Starting on an incredibly low-volume and lengthy windy intro, a (soon-funky) bass brings us slowly into a very complex groove and just as you're fully into it, start the cannon vocals that GG (you can spot a few KC and Yes influences as well, but they are discrete) has graced our ears so well. This almost 11-mins opening Non-Existent Surroundings Of God is a pure joy if you don't mind the fact that these guys were only four and they were still on their debut album. The 6-min Riddle To Myself is a bit in the same mode, but has a more depressing feel and constant use of minor keys (like most of the album).

On the flipside, the 11-min+ title track opens up much the same than the first side did, sticking fairly closely to the GG cannon. However, Prime Origins is probably the tougher track to get into, and maybe the only moment when Epidermis tries to go beyond the GG realm. Starting on a truly apocalyptic musical description of the dawn of time and the genesis of mankind, this track is probably the highlight of the album, even if the more chaotic moments (sounding a bit like some Crimsonic Giant) are not as well recorded. The closing 5-min Feelings is a fairly different affair, avoiding ultra-complex scales, it gives us a chance to peek at what Epidermis could be like when they drop their GG fixation, and I must say that although we still hear the same band, the results are not as convincing, and they sound a bit AOR-ish.

OK, I can't make you believe that Epidermis is really as good as GG, but aside from the fact that they didn't try to expand on whatever GG had developed, they still managed a fairly inspired and enthusiastic album, precisely at the moment when their masters of inspiration lacked those very same qualities. Although I wouldn't call this album essential, I still like it enough to give it its fourth star (let's count the rounding off to the upper unit as a factor as well). This album actually could start as an introduction to GG's world, because it is slightly more accessible than most GG albums.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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