Review: James McPhillips
After their debut album, Death Of A Rock Star, I wondered if one of Lancashire’s finest bands would be able to top their previous offering, or would they suffer second album syndrome. I need not have worried as Black Veins pats it on the head and tickles it under it’s chin as it gently moves it aside before proceeding to smack us round the chops and point us in the direction that Exit State are aiming; as high and as far as they can reach.
Black Veins opens with a bit of a punk-like vibe in Enough Already. The rhythm section of Texas Peat Hicks and Phil Ireland setting their stall with some astute skin-bashing and hardcore basslines before the guitars of Adam Stephenson and Roy Bright take up their mantle and hit us with their energy. Add to this Roy’s angry vocals and you have one hell of an album opener. This track may lull you into thinking that Exit State have changed direction completely, but you’d couldn’t be more wrong, they have just added an extra string to their bow and this just serves to make them a more powerful force to be reckoned with.
Follow that up with In That Place which is, to me, a tale of escapism from an abusive relationship to somewhere free of torment. A place of safety in one’s mind where no-one and nothing can touch you. This song has true feeling and stirs the mind. The album is filled with surprises and a true variation of power, emotion, and energy that will take us on a rollercoaster ride to leave us in no doubt that Exit State have matured into a rock band with exceptional song-writing skills and a level of musicianship that cries out for success. Check Out The Crazy is one of my personal favourites, I can’t help but smile when I listen to it. But then, I have that silly grin on my face throughout the entire CD. The title track is a seriosly strong contender for best song on the album, but I think that title belongs to All For You. Heartfelt lyrics accompanied by piano before a stunning solo from Gizz Butt sends shivers down your spine. I could extemporise and wax lyrical about this song for ages, but it really is a song that I don’t have the words to do it justice. It needs to be heard, just like the whole album, to be appreciated for what it really is – a masterpiece.
In my humble opinion, this just happens to be my favourite album of the year thus far. It has been a labour of love for the band, a perfection in production, and a dance through the emotions for this listener. Packaged with fantastic cover art, Black Veins will take you on a trip you will hope will never end. Right, I’m off to listen to it again… and again… and again… (you get the gist).
Rating: **** 1/2