Exit State + Fantasist + Twisted Species @ Asylum 2, Birmingham – 2 March 2013

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Exit State

Review by Dean Pedley

We’ve had this debate ad infinitum here at The Midlands Rocks but it remains the age old question: just what does it take to get people out of the comfort of their own homes and local hostelries to take in a City Centre gig on a Saturday night? This three band showcase at the Asylum 2 offered free entry (yes, FREE entry) and more than two hours of music and yet could only tempt a couple of dozen to show up.

Those that did make the effort were rewarded with three emerging bands of differing approaches, each one of which will go on to enjoy bigger nights in the near future. Shropshire guitar-heavy grunge rockers Twisted Species are marking the release of new album ‘Genus’ and are all about meaty riffs, furious solos and a Southern Rock vibe. The latter comparison is all the more evident as they throw in a revved up cover of Black Stone Cherry’s ‘White Trash Millionaire’ that sits comfortably alongside their own material. A rock solid local band that are well worth checking out, Twisted Species have a hard working attitude that will serve them well.

Oddball trio Fantasist are next up and this is my first sighting of them since SOS Festival last summer. Very much a band that thrives on atmosphere, they never fail to impress even with such a sparse number in attendance. Fantasist songs take a number of twists and turns; elements of funk, jazz, prog and metal sit alongside vocals that range from haunting and melodic to maniacal shrieking. All three take turns at the mic and all are equally animated around the small stage with beanpole drummer Seb seeming to be everywhere at the same time. Commercially accessible yet with a Zappa-esque humour, Fantasist have a new album coming in May that will no doubt once again have reviewers scratching their heads at how to classify this very unique band.

Like Fantasist, Exit State are signed to the award winning Rocksector label, renowned for giving an opportunity to emerging names and with a roster that continues to both grow and impress. The past twelve months has seen the Burnley based quartet really begin to make a mark on the contemporary rock scene, highlights including touring with the legendary Michael Schenker, seen the eye-catching video for ‘Circles’ scale the summit of the Kerrang! TV charts and been announced as official patrons of the children’s charitable organisation chART. The law of Sod has intervened tonight and at what is their first gig for some two and a half months front man Roy Bright is struggling with a chest infection which means a truncated set of around thirty minutes. They take the opportunity to test new material in the live environment with upcoming single ‘Pull The Trigger’ being a supercharged rocker and the brooding ‘Elastic’ both doing enough to suggest their third album (out in June) will be worth the wait. Put them alongside live favourites ‘Check out the Crazy’ and signature anthem ‘Death of a Rockstar’ and Exit State will soon have the dilemma of deciding which songs to leave out. The next twelve months will surely see Exit State really step up to bigger and better things (no pressure guys!).

Three very different styles across a hugely enjoyable evening of real bands playing real music – what more could you ask for?