Automatic Animal - When the Thinny Howls
The Santa Cruz animals are back with a highly anticipated new album called "Modern Alchemy". Alchemy is both a philosophy and an ancient practice focused on the attempt to change base metals into gold. I couldn't think of a title more fitting for this piece of work. Taking metal in its purist form and turning into gold is what they have done here with "Modern Alchemy".
Having known about this band's previous incarnation, Herbert, and their album "Chrysalis" from way back in 1998, its cool see that the core of that band is still in tact in Automatic Animal. With two albums under their belt under the Herbert moniker, "Steppin' Off to Eden" being the last from 2000, they then created another beast to be reckoned with. Now adding another guitarist, Brent Eichler and ushering in a new bass player, Trevor Stuart. They have the lineup for their 3rd album as Automatic Animal.
"Modern Alchemy" takes off from where "The Shadow of Sound" left off, it has the Skin Yard vibe on the first track, "Can You Sleep?", The Monster Magnet groove on the 2nd, "When the Thinny Howls", not sounding like a clone of these bands, mind you, just giving you an idea, or a comparison of what to expect. On the standout track "Black Rose of Cairo" they get mellow and doomy, reminding me of something Wino and the boys from Spirit Caravan could sink their teeth into, then jumping into a Sabbath gallop about halfway through. Mat's vocals are still top notch, and these cats have riffs that last for days. Every track stands on its own merit; there is not a spoiler in the bunch.
Also worthy to note the whole thing was taken under the wing of Kyuss alum, Scott Reeder and recorded, mixed and engineered at his studio, "The Sanctuary" in Palm Desert, California. He even serves up some backing vocals on the albums final track "City in Ashes". I've also been informed that in the coming weeks, the new disc will be available at CDBaby and also on iTunes. "Modern Alchemy" is another one of those albums that has that certain something that will leave a bruise on your brain. Essential listening for anyone addicted to heavy rock n' roll.
Reviewed by Adam Walsh