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Animals As Leaders - Weightless CD (album) cover


Animals As Leaders


Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.97 | 195 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Worthy Successor to the Throne of Djent++

"Progressive" Metal has always been a strange term as many of the genre's biggest names make no bones about looking backwards for inspiration. Dream Theater kept 80's style metal alive even in a slightly altered form. Opeth combined melodic death metal with 70's prog. When Animals as Leaders hit the scene in 2009 with their self titled debut, many in the metal community including myself felt that finally we were getting something truly new. While AaL's sound clearly owes nods to Meshuggah and shred demons from a generation before, no one has made music like this before. With the release of sophomore effort WEIGHTLESS, bandleader Tosin Obasi and his crew prove that they weren't finished pushing the envelopre.

For those unfamiliar, Animals as Leaders is instrumental metal at its most technical. The group is a trio comprised of two 8-string guitarists and a drummer / programmer. The rhythm parts are comprised of downtuned, highly syncopated odd time grinds, jazzy arpeggiations, and plenty of the signature "djent" sound. If Cynic and Meshuggah had a baby who went to Juilliard, the music would sound like Animals as Leaders.

WEIGHTLESS shows the band playing to their core audience and making an even more demanding album than the debut. The album is heavier, more complex, and contains more electronica. Where I felt comfortable recommending the debut to non-musicians for its strange intense beauty, WEIGHTLESS is an album for music nerds. The whole band explores their personal muses more deeply, and for a guitar / prog / metal fool such as myself, the result is pure genius. There are moments of beauty here, still. But this clearly is not an album for everyone.

For those who already know the debut, WEIGHTLESS explores much more territory. There are more melodic passages, more dissonance, nastier riffs, and the programming is much more integrated into the overall sound rather than an occasional embellishment. Tosin (and the whole band) clearly haven't lost an ounce of technique, and if anything show off a little more. This isn't bad considering the apparent purpose of the album, which is to give fans what they want.

The narrowed niche keeps this from masterpiece status for me, but this is a very very strong album which I highly recommend to all fans of jazz metal, djent, tech metal, odd time signatures, guitar virtuoso playing, and anyone looking for what's truly fresh in music.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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