Epitaph – Outside the Law

January 01, 1970





Outside the Law,
the second album from German hard rock troop Epitaph, has long appeared on
lists of great 70s rock obscurities, but has proven impossible to track down
for the curious (or, rather, the cheap, since original copies tend to fetch
high prices). Originally released in 1974, Outside
the Law
is in many ways fairly typical of its time period – longish hard
rock cuts that sounded heavy at the time but not so much now and a post-hippie
lyrical outlook somewhere between munificence and decadence. From a detached
point of view, it’s hard to hear what makes Epitaph any better than the
gazillion other ‘70s also-rans who never made it past the back pages of Goldmine.


But there’s definitely something special here. Maybe it’s
the band’s dedication to memorable melodies over aggressive riffage, or the
mellifluous vocals of bassist Bernd Kolbe and guitarist Cliff Jackson, or its
willingness to go beyond mere proto-metal into prog (“Fresh Air”), pretty
ballads (“In Your Eyes”) and even folk rock (“Big City,” the jangly bonus track
“Wasted So Much Time”). Or maybe it’s just the warm sound itself, where even
straightforward rockers like “Reflection,” “Woman” and the title track sound friendly
and inviting, rather than heavy and threatening. With strong bonus tracks, a
nicely embossed cover and cuts from a 2000 reunion show that prove the band
hadn’t lost a step over a quarter century, Outside
the Law
is a vintage rarity worth discovering.


DOWNLOAD: “Reflection,”
“Outside the Law,” “Big City” MICHAEL TOLAND

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