Jeff Aug is a US born underground guitarist who has been living in the south of Germany for the last twenty years, or so. His instrumental band Ape Shifter represents his electric roots and blends powerful riffs with inventive melodies and furious playing. Since the release of their eponymous album (2017, see review), the band has completed two tours in Europe, sharing the stage with bands like Loudness, Mörglbl and others. 2019 sees the release of a successor, simply named II. Ape Shifter remains as a steady line up with Jeff Aug as a guitarist, Florian Walter as bass player and drummer Kurty Münch.
Where a lot of instrumental albums tend to be showcases of instrumental virtuosity and stretching solo's to the max, Ape Shifter keeps the songs relatively short and compact. The strength of the compositions comes from the raw energy and intensity, more that the aforementioned showcases of technical skills. Result is a very honest album, without any pretentions. Songs like Mask Of The Ancient Warrior, Steven Avery Is Innocent, 8 Shot and Fu Manchu are beautiful powerful instrumental explosions, filled with heavy riffs, thundering drums and a solid bass. Other compositions are more subtle and show a fine groove, like American Eagle, Jiggy Jiggy Boom Boom and Die Rauschmeisser. What makes this release interesting is the overall eighties feel of the tracks; from melodic hard rock riffs to wah wah drenched blues influenced parts; like Stevie Ray Vaughan on acid. The final composition Mathilda is the only vocal track on the album. This song also sees the guesting of Kilian Kayser on violin. Although the song is a nice one, the song is not comparable to the other compositions on the album. It does make you think how a Jeff Aug album with vocals would be like. But that could be some other project in the future.
Jeff Aug and Ape Shifter have returned with a compact powerful album. The songs display raw energy over technical showcases. I guess their live performances are a real treat.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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