"The Animal State could be placed somewhere on the rock spectrum between Mastodon and King Crimson"
The Animal State is the musical alter-ego for songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Col Mullins. With a wealth of influences, including the classic psychedelic and prog rock acts of the 60s and 70s, the alternative rock and grunge era, and more recently the post-rock and progressive metal scenes, The Animal State could be placed somewhere on the rock spectrum between Mastodon and Soundgarden—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’ was 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 threw down the gauntlet, promising to be an exciting and unpredictable figure in the pantheon of rock.
With his follow-up album, Ego’, The Animal State has taken a giant leap forward as a songwriter and producer. Falling back on his grunge and alternative rock roots, ‘Ego’ veers away from the longer progressive structures of his debut album ‘Genus’ and moves towards shorter and punchier compositions. But it’s the production itself which separates this album from its predecessor. Influenced and inspired by the great rock albums of the early 90s—Nevermind, Siamese Dream, Superunknown—The Animal State has produced an album which is tight and polished without losing any of the raw energy so prevalent in the debut.