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Animals As Leaders - Animals As Leaders CD (album) cover


Animals As Leaders


Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.01 | 261 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
5 stars The Most Important Metal Album Since....A Very Long Time

Music has taken on a very new look in the internet age. File sharing and mp3 have taken the lion's share of attention during this time, but other factors are making a dramatic impact on how music is created in the new millenium. The first and most obvious development is the evolution of high level home recording platforms. The second is youtube and internet video, which has given young musicians access both to an enormous variety of lessons right in their bedroom, and to each other. Animals as Leaders is, to my ear, the first group to produce a truly revolutionary sound as a result of the evolutionary new territory created by this computer age of music.

Drawing on djent, itself an internet phenomena populated by mainly home recording artists with a liking for math metal pioneers Meshuggah, Animals as Leaders is the solo project of the king of the eight string guitar, engineered by the close runner up. Tosin Obasi is simply an unworldly talent, with mastery of virtually every shred technique under his belt. Using exclusively 7 and 8 string guitars, he has expanded his pallette further by using two handed techniques similar to those of Tony Levin and other Chapman Stick players. Both he and engineer Bulb (Misha Monsoor) have an enormous knowledge base and have devoured and assimilated previous heroes such as Allan Holdsworth, Malmsteen, Vai, and Frank Gambale.

But talent and technique don't make music. It simply deepens and broadens the tools available. What Obasi does on ANIMALS AS LEADERS (unlike Bulb on his project PERIPHERY) is to take the djent platform and then launch to completely new realms. In fact, the album doesn't sound like godfather Meshuggah at all. Instead, it is a kind of heavy math jazz. It is consciously modern, with some sounds seemingly programmed, but actually produced by the guitar technique itself. Like Meshuggah, the music is cut up into a myriad of odd time morsels, making the music seem to flow freely over a bed of continuous eighths or sixteenths. (Not unlike the piano intro to FIRTH OF FIFTH).

The two things that make this music something beyond a technical showcase are energy and beauty. Without a doubt, this music is invigorating. I use it for workouts, I use it to pep me up. In fact, I think anyone with a tolerance for heavy music could enjoy this album without any care for the technical aspects. What's more the jazz elements weave in an out seamlessly, and here is where the beauty enters. There is a true sense of melody and mood. The tapping extravaganza in the opener "Tempting Time" is more of a spacey trip than a showcase, though in that respect it is mindboggling.

The only downside is that Tosin's sound, while overwhelming, can start to lack variety by the end of the album. While one could start on any song and be overwhelmed with the album's power, by the 8th song the listener knows the main ideas of what's going on. There is a nice acoustic break on track 11, "Modern Meat," but there is a bit of samey-ness on the other tracks. But the sound is so rich and powerful, that while this may not be a perfect album, it is without a doubt in my mind a masterpiece.

If you like complex music, get it. If you like metal, get it. If you like guitar, get it. If you like prog, get it. Get it?

Negoba | 5/5 |


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