If you haven’t already heard of them, Animals as Leaders is a technical prog-metal project of virtuoso guitarist Tosin Abasi (Reflux, T.R.A.M., Born of Osiris) that made quite a splash with their self-titled debut, released in 2009. However, was it warranted?
Clocking in respectably at just under an hour in length, the album certainly does live up to its hype. Abasi and his extraordinary prowess on the 8-string guitar truly shine here, but the album does a great job of balancing tracks heavy with technical exhibition such as CAFO against more melodic, jazzier ones like Modern Meat. Interestingly, many of the tracks even feature risky, nigh-electronic beats like Tempting Time.
The times this album truly shines are when the two sides of the coin that is Animals as Leaders come together in a perfect and intense union, such as The Price of Everything and The Value of Nothing or On Impulse. In these cases the band masterfully crafts a base of a catchy jazz beat over which to pour an impressive flow of their technical prowess. The result is, overall, an effect that is at once both cerebral and contemplative as well as visceral and moving.
Production-wise the album is top-notch as well, and every note comes through crisp and clean where appropriate, and distortion rings true as well. This only adds to the aforementioned effects that make the listener feel as if they’re in another world.
In closing, Animals as Leaders is an album that isn’t afraid to take risks and show off a bit, and definitely profits from this. The album makes for an absolutely incredible experience that can be listened to over and over again, and I would highly recommend it.
Written by Tony Burgio