"The Animal State could be placed somewhere on the rock spectrum between Mastodon and King Crimson"
The Animal State is a fitting name for this genre-defying one-man band, created by songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Col Mullins. Indeed there is something indomitable, something a little wild in the logic and the dark driving energy of his unique blend of alternative and progressive rock. Drawing from a wealth of influences, from the classic psychedelic and prog rock acts of the 60s and 70s to the contemporary post rock and progressive metal scenes, The Animal State could be placed somewhere on the rock spectrum between Mastodon and King Crimson—loud, metamorphic and utterly compelling.
Hailing from a quiet town near Portsmouth, UK, The Animal State came into being in 2017. But its origins went back a little further than that. As a child of the nineties, the explosion of the grunge scene left an indelible mark on Col’s musical tastes. Like many of his generation, he picked up his first guitar at around the age of fourteen and promptly formed a band with two other school friends. The band, which never quite settled on a name, played together for a number of years, developing a large catalogue of original music and performing intimate shows for their friends, until at last school was over and the three members dispersed into the wider world of college education and the nameless band was no more.
And there the story might have ended. But in 2015, after a hiatus of around sixteen years, Col rediscovered his passion for the guitar and began a prolific period of song-writing. Having learned the basics of audio engineering at college, Col built a small studio at his home and recorded a demo. He spent the next two years feverishly studying music theory, implementing an intense practice regimen on his guitar and watching endless hours of mixing and producing tutorials online. During this time he also wrote the music and lyrics for what would later become his debut album, ‘Genus’.
Released in May 2020, ‘Genus’ is an ambitious album, an epic journey from the misty reaches of ancient history to the bleak landscapes of some post-apocalyptic future. Invoking the structural traditions of the prog rock era, each of its five songs are long and meandering compositions—the shortest song on the album is still over nine minutes long—but that tradition has been reinvented here, injected with a raw driving energy fuelled by powerful dynamic riffs and blistering solos more emblematic of the modern day progressive metal acts, and that energy continues throughout the album unabated. With this first musical offering, The Animal State has thrown down the gauntlet, promising to be an exciting and unpredictable figure in the pantheon of rock.
The Animal State’s second release, ‘Bones and Shadows’, is a selection of three songs which originally appeared on an unreleased demo in 2017. After the release of his debut in May 2020, The Animal State returned to the studio to re-record the better part of this earlier work. The result is an EP with the raw energy of an incipient artist but with the benefit of a more refined understanding of the engineering process.
As with The Animal State’s debut album, ‘Bones and Shadows’ is a conceptual EP. Each song is inspired by a different novel or character (the last song is even named after the book which inspired it) and there is a theme of vengeance and pursuit that threads each song together. The music itself is a fitting reflection of this theme. Though predominantly flavoured with a classic hard rock sound there are quiet and haunting moments peppered throughout, from the ‘spaghetti western’ vibes at the start of ‘Comanche’ to the soft menacing intro guitars of ‘The Unvanquished’, and overall it follows the long-form progressive structure that fans of his debut album will be familiar with.
The Animal State is currently in the studio working on a new full-length album.