Review by Paul H Birch
A cursory glance at Twisted Species’ song titles and you’re hardly going to categorise them as LA sleaze outcasts. The more sedate locale of Market Drayton in Shropshire is actually their base of operations and their musical influences more Seattle-based, but beyond the grunge there’s also this hardened blues grit at work.
It’s the lingering deep-throat of vocalist Dave Gandon that sends their music drifting down the Mississippi to sing tales of woe with passion, but that’s aided and abetted in the unexpected quarter of drummer Stu Reynolds who – though different in style – has a gift for timekeeping reminiscent of the way Simon Kirke acted as the metronomic heartbeat of Free. You add a funk-punk attitude bass line over that from Luke Hudson and some well-driven guitar sounds courtesy of Ralph Corn and Gandon and it fits the lyrical content; or possibly even informs it.
We have songs of alienation and introspection, lost love and people doing you wrong but with more of an existential questioning or reluctant acceptance of such than the concerns of the damned in some great conspiracy of a world gone wrong – albeit that God himself gets a couple of name checks in the name and shame category. Fortunately, it’s far from being all doom and gloom, but it is pretty much emotionally stirrings throughout.
A lead riff sauntering over an almost trance-like textured rhythm guitar in ‘Divide’ is curiously uplifting despite the song’s title; ‘Feed What You Crave’ is Black Sabbath meets a gang of punk-heads and the confrontation is not bloody but a right booze-up while the snake snapping riff of ‘Slip Away’ is one of several songs evocative of Soundgarden before giving way to what comes across like the splicing of an old tape of the Sabb’s ‘Supernaut’ with something off Purple’s funked-up Come Taste the Band, and is brief enough to work; ‘Powerstruggle’ motors full-throttle like The Almighty; whereas the slow-grunge blues of ‘Blood of Angels’ is atypical of what one might expect Twisted Species’ signature sound to be, especially when Gandon pitches in with one of his spine-tingling ice-cold guitar solos.
‘Don’t Wanna Die’ and ‘Dead Behind the Eyes’ are epic in the manner of Pearl Jam, with each of the band pushing and grinding the sound on in songs written to be sung along to by arena sized crowds. There’s power and aggression in the music, thoughtfulness in the lyrics, and something potentially inspirational to be appreciated here.
Genus is not only an impressive debut album but features an eye-catching cover too. Are we to interpret its anthropomorphised mushrooms literally? At heart, are Twisted Species just fun-guys?
8 out of 10
- Hold Me Down
- Feed What You Crave
- Don’t Wanna Die Again
- Blood of Angels
- Dead Behind the Eyes
- Innocence Lost
- Slip Away