Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Animals As Leaders

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Animals As Leaders Parrhesia album cover
3.96 | 47 ratings | 3 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 2022

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Conflict Cartography (5:02)
2. Monomyth (3:26)
3. Red Miso (4:31)
4. Gestaltzerfall (4:46)
5. Asahi (1:51)
6. The Problem of Other Minds (2:32)
7. Thoughts and Prayers (5:48)
8. Micro-Aggressions (4:10)
9. Gordian Naught (4:48)

Total Time 36:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Tosin Abasi / guitars
- Javier Reyes / guitars
- Matthew Garstka / drums

Releases information

Label: Sumerian Records
Format: Vinyl, CD, Digital
March 25, 2022

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
Edit this entry

Buy ANIMALS AS LEADERS Parrhesia Music

ANIMALS AS LEADERS Parrhesia ratings distribution

(47 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ANIMALS AS LEADERS Parrhesia reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars ANIMALS AS LEADERS, initially the solo project of guitarist / bassist Tosin Abasi sprouted a new life-force when it became a bonafide band soon thereafter and this trio of virtuoso musicians has been at it for 15 years now albeit with a change of cast members. PARRHESIA (which means boldness or frankness of speech) is Abasi's fifth album after a lengthy absence since 2016's "The Madness of Many." Tosin returns accompanied by fellow guitarist / bassist Javier Reyes and drumming powerhouse Matt Garstka. This lineup has remained stable for three albums now and PARRHESIA showcases a fine-tuned jazz-fusion based djent trio in fine form.

As expected PARRHESIA is an all instrumental affair with nine tracks that almost reach 37 minutes of playing time. Steeped in the jazz-fusion ethos of great guitarists such as Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Beck, Pat Metheny and countless others accompanied by the progressive metal twists and turns of bands like Exivious, Shawn Lane and even Cynic, ANIMALS AS LEADERS also has mastered the technical wizardry of legends like Steve Vai as well as the more majestic djent fueled heft of Meshuggah and even the tech death majesty of Death's Chuck Schuldiner but there's really no mistaking the unique sound of ANIMALS AS LEADERS with its classy display of all the aforementioned influencers in a jazz-metal smoothie.

Stylistically ANIMALS AS LEADERS delivers the goods exactly as expected. Chunky jazzified guitar riffs accompanied by precision percussive prowess and hyper stimulating electronica with all those knotty time signature changes and moody atmospheric turbulence. The formula hasn't really deviated from its trajectory ever since the project's eponymously tilted 2009 debut which is a boon for those who are utterly addicted to this style of instrumental jazz-fusion magic with metallic outbursts but a little sleepy for those who would expect the band to put the "progressive" in its prog metal and embark on a more adventurous journey that offers more surprises and unthinkable deviations from the norm.

Well, that's not ANIMALS AS LEADERS is about and while not throwing any curveballs from its regularly scheduled program, does deliver in the technical jazz-metal chops department without missing a beat. Laced with nerdy time signature progressions and whizzing guitar solos fortified with independent drum rolls and bass grooves, PARRHESIA is the epitome of a trio whose three members are comfortable forging their own independent instrumental parts that somehow come together to create a larger sum of the parts. Perhaps ANIMALS AS LEADERS' greatest attribute is a keen sense of dynamics and how to gently nature any given musical tidbit until it climaxes with an explosive crescendo.

Perhaps too metal for the jazz-fusion crowd and not metal enough for the headbangers of the world, ANIMALS AS LEADERS does precariously sit perched in that in-between zone but where the metal is tamped down the beautiful guitar tones teased out into knotty jazz chord progressions is quite serene. Likewise the Meshuggah fueled djent stomps on speed also offer an intricate display of pyroclastic explosiveness that find the two guitarists of the band becoming more adept at blitzkrieg displays of guitar wizardry. Add the interesting keyboard contributions that deliver the perfect counterpoint and orchestrated atmospheric constructs and it's easy to get sucked into ANIMALS AS LEADERS beautiful tapestry of atmospheric jazz metal. Overall there are no surprises on PARRHESIA but if a competent dose of the band's classic style is what you were expecting then you won't be disappointed in the least.

Review by DangHeck
4 stars As has been a trend and almost a custom, released by Sumerian and produced by Periphery's own Misha Monsoor, this, Animals' fifth--it's honestly amazing I've been following them for at least three of their releases now--is finally here! Finally arrived onto the stage (I actually literally saw them the other month and it was incredible) and into our earholes after a wait of 6 years since The Madness of Many (2016). This is Parrhesia, from the Ancient Greek which can roughly mean "free speech" and more specifically defined as the seeking of forgiveness for the way in which one said something: we have such timely and pertinent titles toward the end to this effect, such as "Thoughts and Prayers" and "Micro-Aggressions". [Forgive my infantile (in my infancy) leftism/progressivism, if you will, but I can only imagine what sort of things Tosin has experienced as a black man (and likely Javier, as Latino) in Metal at large. He's not the first. He won't be the last. But there will likely always be something in that that I, as a white guy, will never quite understand.] Back to the album: I think my friend who saw them with me was right that it's best to have gotten that live experience first. Tosin and Co. had mentioned, too, that this was the first more or less collaborative album, that the excellent Matt Garstka had written material here specifically. Needless to say, especially after all that, I've been very excited.

"Conflict Cartography" opens with layers and layers from this trio, featuring at times soaring and soft soloing. Very familiar, really. Pretty good opener, but I feel like much of it we've seen from them before. I feel as though 2014-2016 was such a turning point for Progressive Metal (and also a point of reference even still), of course with the proliferation and popularization of "Djent" specifically (out of Progressive Metalcore, I think it's important to recognize). Albums therein that came out at this time include A Dream In Static (Earthside), The Congregation (Leprous), Language (The Contortionist), The Violent Sleep of Reason (Meshuggah), Periphery III: Select Difficulty (Periphery), [the 2013 exception] The Migration (Scale The Summit), and Animals As Leaders' most melodic album, The Joy of Motion. Can you blame anyone for taking this as a point of creative pivot?

What feels new is the brutal assault of "Monomyth" to follow. Always awesome hearing what sort of melodies Tosin and Javier can pull out and place within wild, rhythmically complex and unbelievably heavy songs such as this one; it's just insane. And compositionally complex over just 3 minutes. "Red Miso" is of a different, more feeling tone. More melodic and more rhythmically "natural" (until around 1:30, and even still haha). This song is sooooo pleasing. It becomes more and more brutal, even in its weird effect-laden quirk. Another to start though in a more ambient beauty is "Gestaltzerfall". I'm not sure how to explain the phenomenon of Gestaltzerfall, so definitely look it up and it will hopefully be clearer. What I can say is that it's interesting to have this sort of focus in mind for a musical composition. Could it be that we have, hidden within otherwise simple, straightforward movements, slight variations that can be picked up on when we mentally focus on them? I'm sure that's true of AAL many times over, if any band can accomplish this--and all this to say that I'm assuming I'm understanding the term and the phenomenon itself correctly (again, just look it up haha). Beautiful song though, nonetheless. I love when they're in a more melodic mode (I didn't mention above that Joy of Motion has been my forever favorite from them for this reason).

As for "Asahi", I must say, I'm more familiar with Sapporo. Is that alright with y'all? haha. "Asahi" is a short 2- minute ambient tune, with swelling strings-like padding and clean, reverberating guitar soloing. What a lovely breather. It flows right into the second shortest track, a more electronic number to start, the gorgeous and hypnotic "The Problem of Other Minds", one I certainly remember from their live performance. And it is great when your mind gets stuck into these intricate rhythms that they place in what seemed before a straightforward track. A lot to focus on and I'll definitely have to listen to this one in particular soon (hopefully the whole album, too, of course). There is a familiarity in this, that it is in fact Animals here, but they have found different ways over the years, especially starting with Joy to freshen and mix things up. Up next is the aforementioned "Thoughts and Prayers", which starts off with a very intriguing sort of intensity. Beautiful, now less uncommon soloing here, too. The rhythm is straight-ahead. The melodies are ominous and the tension continues on throughout. A lot more to take in than how it appears on the surface. But even still, I'm not as drawn as to some of the tracks from before. Maybe too familiar? Is that unfair?

We get the second track mentioned above next, "Micro-Aggressions", here in all of its wild and untamed brutality. From the start, this is one of the most impressive things, technically, that I've ever heard from any one of them. Incessant. Complex. Just plain incredible. And then we get a very, dare I say, traditional guitar solo in the middle. And then it's right on back into the crazed battle from the get-go. They have outdone themselves on this one. Finally, we have "Gordian Naught" (aha! haha), which has a very classic AAL intensity, yet somehow a level above, say, what you'd expect from the material off of Weightless or their self-titled debut. I didn't know they could gel any better as a band from before...

True Rate: 4.25/5.00

Latest members reviews

5 stars Animals As Leaders' latest work doesn't shine so much for its technical virtues as for the refinement of the band's style, which had begun on their previous album, and which is now shown to us in a more transparent and effective way. In just thirty-seven minutes and with short pieces, the band h ... (read more)

Report this review (#2841899) | Posted by JohnProg | Thursday, September 22, 2022 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of ANIMALS AS LEADERS "Parrhesia"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.