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ANIMALS AS LEADERS

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • United States


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Animals As Leaders biography
ANIMALS AS LEADERS is a progressive metal band from Washington, U.S. that formed in 2008. The band consists only of members Tosin Abasin (guitar, programming) and Javier Reyes (guitar) and Chebon Littlefield (bass, synth) who only play live. They released their self-titled album through Prosthetic Records in April 2009.

- Sebastian Maldonado (burrtitounit) -

WHY THIS BAND IS IN THE ARCHIVES:

Approved by the Progressive Metal Team

See also:

- Reflux

Animals As Leaders official website

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Animals As LeadersAnimals As Leaders
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The Joy of Motion by Animals As Leaders [Music CD]The Joy of Motion by Animals As Leaders [Music CD]
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ANIMALS AS LEADERS shows & tickets


  • Animals as Leaders + Devin Townsend Project + Monuments at Saint Andrew's Hall, Detroit on 28 Nov 2014
  • Animals as Leaders + Devin Townsend Project + Monuments at House of Blues, Cleveland on 29 Nov 2014
  • Devin Townsend Project + Animals as Leaders + Monuments at Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto on 30 Nov 2014
  • Animals as Leaders + Devin Townsend Project + Monuments at Club Soda, Montreal on 1 Dec 2014
  • Animals as Leaders + Monuments + Turn the Tide at The Westcott Theater, Syracuse on 2 Dec 2014
  • Animals as Leaders + Devin Townsend Project + Monuments at Rams Head Live!, Baltimore on 3 Dec 2014
  • Abstract Reality Tour on 4 Dec 2014
  • The Abstract Reality Tour on 5 Dec 2014
  • Abstract Reality Tour on 6 Dec 2014
  • Animals as Leaders + Monuments + Echo Crush at Ziggy's Tavern, Winston-Salem on 7 Dec 2014
  • Abstract Reality North America Tour on 8 Dec 2014
  • Abstract Reality on 10 Dec 2014
  • Animals as Leaders + Devin Townsend Project + Monuments at Backstage Live, San Antonio, TX on 10 Dec 2014
  • Abstract Reality North America Tour on 11 Dec 2014
  • Animals as Leaders + Monuments + Existem at Bottleneck, Lawrence on 12 Dec 2014
  • Abstract Reality North American Tour on 13 Dec 2014
  • Devin Townsend Project + Animals as Leaders + Monuments at Sunshine Theater, Albuquerque on 14 Dec 2014
  • Animals as Leaders + Devin Townsend Project + Monuments at Nile Theatre, Mesa, AZ on 15 Dec 2014
  • Abstract Reality North America Tour 2014 on 16 Dec 2014
  • Abstract Reality Tour on 17 Dec 2014
  • Soundwave 2015 on 21 Feb 2015
  • Soundwave 2015 on 28 Feb 2015
  • Soundwave 2015 on 28 Feb 2015

ANIMALS AS LEADERS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ANIMALS AS LEADERS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.06 | 196 ratings
Animals As Leaders
2009
3.99 | 144 ratings
Weightless
2011
3.44 | 44 ratings
The Joy Of Motion
2014

ANIMALS AS LEADERS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ANIMALS AS LEADERS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ANIMALS AS LEADERS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ANIMALS AS LEADERS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.71 | 23 ratings
Wave Of Babies
2010

ANIMALS AS LEADERS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Animals As Leaders by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.06 | 196 ratings

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Animals As Leaders
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Approgximation

5 stars This album seems to be from another planet! As if listening to an album in reverse. Their first and self-titled album is a technical virtuosity maze ranking as high as as could be (Joe Satriani) with layer upon layer of mathematical sounds at different tempos and highly variant pitches. Tosin Abasi leads like troop commander coming hard above the rise of a hill into battle as he rips into an abstract form of prog. The front man absolutely demands your attention to which you obey as you get your ears wrapped around their delivery of fine instrumentation.

The sounds of Animals As Leaders are heavily and uniquely structured (Liquid Tension Experiment) which would clearly define this album as prog to any uninformed initiate to the genre. At times the structures collide in true prog form, but seems to be the nature of the album and a testament to the band's flavour in general. These collisions have their own agendas but do come together in a seemingly 'second-phase' or even a 'third-phase' of collaboration to drive the tracks like seen few and far in between other bands. Though technicality vibrant, at the same time the music is absolutely transparent enough that you could pick any instrument or sound structure and strip it away clearly enough so as to analyse and appreciate it (or not).

Being a predominantly instrumental layout means they can exploit their voiceless speech (instruments) hard, allowing the layered music to do the talking. Vocals would only deter the delivery of mastery at hand here. ( Joe Satriani is not known for his vocals either ). The sound of Animals As Leaders comes across in many formats from the drive of thrash metal, metalcore (Reflux being Abasi's prior band), some small structures with blues riff, right down to a folk-like traditional sound, even at times incorporating strong 'Trance electronic' programming that brings the group into a futuristic and very modern position. Regular sounds of euphoria and electronica fill the gaps of mathematical layering to cement this together as a truly unique band.

The virtuosity of Abasi leads the band with a jazz ferocity reminding us of their potential in any given prog genre. Dependant on taste and audio equipment layout, the bass is well delivered to bring into balance the higher end pitch of Abasi's play. Double-Bass drumming delivers drive to push the collaboration like a steam train in full momentum. It certainly picks you up wanting more as the next corner is an uncertainty.

( I attempt at delivering reviews objectively at least, but I will say here that this album is one for me that optimises the sound of a technical and a typical prog format, making it almost a bench mark. I classify Tosin Abasi in the ranks as marksman-axeman at least. If technical virtuosity is your flavour, Animals As Leaders will not disappoint. )

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 The Joy Of Motion by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.44 | 44 ratings

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The Joy Of Motion
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Animals as Leaders' third album feels like it's hitting diminishing returns on the djent side of the equation compared to the rather more interesting Weightless, but it manages to just about make the cut thanks to the exploration of jazz fusion and Latin styles that yields a more diverse sound than they've previously enjoyed. At the same time, I can't help but wish that these momentary flirtations with expanding and reconfiguring the group's sound had gone a little deeper, since whilst they add a little spice here, they don't go quite so far enough as to open up enough new creative directions to feel confident about the group's long-term prospects.

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 The Joy Of Motion by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.44 | 44 ratings

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The Joy Of Motion
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Gallifrey

2 stars Tolerable, Yet Uninteresting

I've never liked Animals As Leaders. I guess I should state that upfront, so anyone who wants to disregard my opinion can do so, before they get too invested in reading what I have to say. I really don't like this whole subculture, the Sumerian records-led teenager brigade of tech- worshippers. Everything about them, from their awful bedroom chugging projects, to their actual enjoyment of memes as cringeworthy and embarrassing as 'doge', to the complete obsession with such empty and emotionless music just grates me, to the point where I would actually call them a cult. Like the hippies or goths or hiphopheads of pre-internet times, we now have djentfags, and I long await their demise.

At the forefront of this movement and on the back of every djentfag's bedroom door are Animals as Leaders, the project of guitarist and "songwriter" Tosin Abasi. I put songwriter in inverted commas for reasons that I will discuss later, since I don't believe Tosin has written a single actual song in his career. This is their third album, released after a highly regarded debut, and a less popular sophomore, both of which were (in my opinion) compressed and useless pieces of guitar wankery, with absolutely zero sense of time or melody or harmony or even how to construct a guitar tone. Yet they were somehow were lauded by both djentfags and also by people whose opinions I trust and respect. Although they are certainly leaders in the scene, AAL aren't really a true djent band in the genre definition; only a small portion of their music is dedicated to chuggity chug chug, most of it going towards messy and tuneless riffing, filtered through some ungodly number of compressors, and scattered with some uninspired electronics and even more uninspired ambience.

Although actually, on the whole, The Joy of Motion is Animals As Leaders' most tolerable release yet. I would hesitate to say 'best', because this still ain't good, but it's got a significantly larger percentage of moments that I'm not pulling my hair out to or dying of internal bleeding, to the point when I actually enjoy a couple of moments here and there. But on the whole, this is Tosin doing as he has done, genre-wise, and it basically sounds identical to the first two records, with a tiny bit more cohesion and a bit less mess.

"But no!" shout the masses of teenagers in their bedrooms, "this one's different! There's bass!"

And yes, there is a bass guitar here, and I'm sure Adam Getgood's formspring account will be flooded over the next few months with billions of questions about the chain he is using at 3:11 in this song or the Axe FX preset he's got on at 0:29 in that song, but does the bass really change anything here? No, no it really doesn't, especially not with that bloody disgusting tone. The Joy of Motion does have some nice grooves every now and then, and the bass is a significant part of this, but it's not really a major point of difference from the first two albums.

The biggest difference here, one that is also due to Mr Getgood's involvement, along with his Periphery bandmate Misha Mansoor (who I am less of a fan of), is the production. Sure, the tones here are still pretty awful, the drums are plastic, the bass is way way waaay too compressed (and slapped more often than need be), but at least I can bloody hear them. On the first two albums, the thing that surprised me the most about the people praising them, was the fact that regardless of how technical these riffs are, they're under a wall of the messiest bloody production this side of Saint Anger and smothered in the highest levels of compression this side of Death Magnetic. No matter how hard I tried to pretend I liked jazz and enjoy Tosin's use of the D-Locrian mode on that sweep or the triplet run in f#-7-chromatic-minor on that breakdown (which is the only way I can imagine people liking this music), I couldn't hear anything at all under the waves of spluttering electronic drums and bad atmosphere. But here, I can actually say that I listened to this record three times, and I didn't have an aneurism.

The production lifts this up tons, but lets be honest, it really just made it a bit clearer, and under the mess that the first two albums were crawling beneath, there isn't too much here. One of the things I hate about djent, often more than the chugging itself, is the genre's obsession with ~trendy ambience~. And it's not as if it's nice ambience, it is literally the most basic setting on a delay pedal, played with the exact same tone. And with Animals As Leaders being the frontrunners in this scene, you'd imagine them to be a bit more inventive, but no, the useless ambience is here, and in even more abundance than before. It's not the fact that they are using it that bugs me, it's the fact that it's so uninspired, and I have heard it so many times before, combined with the fact that it sounds so mechanical and machine-produced. With the heavy parts being so mechanical themselves, it would be nice if the ambient breaks could have some piano or strings or acoustic guitar or any instrument that has a relatively pleasing timbre.

The heavy parts here aren't a big improvement, but the production advances definitely mean I can tolerate them a bit more. Some of the riffing here starts to even emulate electronic music, and with the clearer production, actually sounds pretty cool. The very beginning of the album has a very glitchy and quite interesting riff that, while being a complete mess, is made up with some really choppy and nice drumming. I'm not a big fan of the tones, and the organ in the background is laughable, but the drumming here is really something, and would be decent if it weren't for the terribly robotic kick and snare tones. Solo-wise, this thing is still damn sloppy. I've never been a fan of djent soloing, it is so without melody and direction. Call it 'jazzy' if you want, and yeah, I've always felt the same thing about a lot of jazz soloing to be honest, but to me it's completely messy.

So what is The Joy of Motion in the end? Is it an improvement? Hell yes it is. Will fans like it? Probably not. Will it go down as significant? Well, no, not really.

Because you see, Tosin does not construct songs, or even melodies or riffs quite a lot of the time, he creates exercises and challenges, the sort of stuff that will fill the next generation of guitar textbooks and inspire legions of 12-year-olds to drop gauge, add a few strings and start chugging. It's the new jazz, in my view, this uber-technical mess music, pretentious as [%*!#], great for critical analysis and pretending you have diverse taste, but on the whole meaningless. And I think where The Joy of Motion sits seems a bit vague. There's enough non-wanky stuff for me to not vomit here, but that will also alienate people who want to come at this album with a pen and notepad. But on the other hand, it has enough messy segments and usual Tosin wank for me to not really want to hear it more than a few times. When I listen to this record, I don't really enjoy it; I'm more just surprised that I don't hate it. The Joy of Motion will inevitably be forgotten in the middle ground, wherever Tosin chooses to go next. And honestly, although this hints at an upward trend toward maybe making something I would like, I'm probably not going to bother the man again. He was a great sight to see live and meet, and I appreciate his talent and dedication, but Tosin will always be Tosin, and he will always write this mathematical and mechanical music. And as much as I can tolerate a good deal of The Joy of Motion, I could never really enjoy such soulless music, regardless of any technicality.

4.5/10

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

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 The Joy Of Motion by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.44 | 44 ratings

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The Joy Of Motion
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by AgostinoScafidi

5 stars So what's all the fuss about, huh? I'll tell you.

I decided to write my review of The Joy of Motion since it had no reviews thus far. I could have easily written the same review for each of the previous albums. They are all worth listening to. They are all a special and unique display of musical prowess, and part of that uniqueness is attributed to the fact Animals As Leaders is a one-man production!

This is one of those albums, one of those artists that are just a must listen. It helps if you are not averse to guitar based progressive metal. I happen to play the guitar so this repertoire is an added gem and treat for my ears!

The Joy of Motion might even be the strongest of their three albums. They are all not very different from each other but this really is not a bad thing at all. The music is just so pleasant to listen to. It's complex yet melodic. But yes, it is quite complex. I happen to love that.

It's an uncompromising display. If you like uncompromising qualities, you just might love Animals As Leaders.

All the fuss about this band is warranted!

Oh and I must add that's it's not all that common to hear a strictly instrumental based project either. That is another very strong point in this particular artist's favour.

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 Weightless by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 144 ratings

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Weightless
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Eyefire

5 stars Weightless was an album that took most listeners by surprise. It wasn't like the debut album, which only took us one listen to start annoying the hell out of all our friends to check out immediately. Abasi, in my eyes, proved his true musicianship by cranking this masterpiece out two years later. Sure, the debut was impressive and unique enough by itself, and it would have been easy to just continue the same idea and release another album in the exact same way, pleasing the general public opinion and continuing his path to guitar fame. However, unlike far too many artists in this diverse genre, he wrote music that actually progressed. Abasi takes us on a true musical journey that the debut album couldn't quite provide. The key difference between the two is that Weightless has a clear and strong theme throughout, which seamlessly transitions from the low and powerful 8-string guitar djent-style riffs, to the thought-provoking and obscure chords of the cleaner guitar tones. In addition, there is an electronic element that occasionally sneaks in, subtly blending in well throughout the album. The most admirable thing about Abasi's composition, though, is how undeniably tasteful he can make each moment, whether it be bold and complex rhythm, or simple and quiet melody. Guitar 'shredding' is a technique Abasi has mastered not because of the speed of his fingers, but because among the countless notes, you can hear clear melodic ideas that fit in nicely with the supporting music under it. Animals as Leaders' "Weightless" album is an essential piece of music that gives a refreshing change of pace from what normally defines progressive metal.

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 Weightless by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 144 ratings

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Weightless
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Knapitatet

5 stars Is it really possible? Can Tosin Abasi really follow up one of the most talked about guitar albums of 2009? Well let me tell you something. He keeps going from strenght to strenght. That is of course not to deny bandmates Navene Koperweis and Javier Reyes any credits. Now finally enjoying the benefit of a real drummer and a considerably more vibrant production (not to rag on Misha Mansoors production of the first album, but it is) this can reasonably be seen as AAL's real debut album. Right away the choppy Djent rythms catch a hold of you, and yes i mean that. This is a CATCHY album! Thanks to the new production the solos are much more pronounced and clear, and Koperweis makes a strong effort behind the drumkit.

It is hard to describe how good this album is in detail, without needing to go into technical details, but believe me this is Guitar at its finest. In fact i put this album besides "Are You Experienced?", "Van Halen", "Rising Force", "Friday Night In San Fransisco" and "Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar" as one that is important to the developmet of the art. Highly recommended for all lovers of virtuosity.

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 Weightless by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 144 ratings

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Weightless
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Is Djent really a subgenre or just a style of playing? Well, if Animals as Leaders' Weightless is anything to go by, one thing's for sure: it certainly isn't much like the bulk of Dream Theater- inspired progressive metal bands. Djent groups can be derided in some quarters for getting overly fancy with their technical playing, but I don't really hear that here - whilst there's no doubt that this is an album with a highly technical focus, the band never resort to aimless noodling, instead creating a wonderfully atmospheric piece which proves that you can combine technical excellence with emotional resonance. If Djent is really nothing more than a particular flavour of prog metal, then finally this is prog metal I can really get excited about.

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 Animals As Leaders by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.06 | 196 ratings

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Animals As Leaders
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by dtguitarfan

5 stars Animals as Leaders is one of those bands that completely took me by surprise. I've heard a lot of extraordinary music, and plenty of mediocre music, but no matter who told me these guys were amazing, I wouldn't have been prepared for what was to come. They are completely unique - I'd describe their style as "Progressive Jazz/Metal/Techno Fusion". Or something like that. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this band is that there are only 3 members, and no bassist. They are strictly instrumental. The lead guitarist of the band, Tosin Abasi, has developed a unique style of guitar playing where he combines guitar playing techniques with bass playing techniques, and employes the use of an 8 stringed guitar that has a bass string or two. I highly recommend looking up Tosin Abasi on youtube sometime ? it will be one of the most amazing musical feats you've ever witnessed, I promise. When I listen to Animals as Leaders, I find it hard to go back to listening to anyone else - this music is so beautifully complex that after hearing it everything else seems less amazing, and often I must listen to something simplistic and soothing to sort of cleanse the palette, if you will.

In this, their first album, Animals as Leaders has this amazing method of building up an agressive soundscape filled with dirty heavy riffs and dissonance that builds and crescendos until you almost can't take it, and then all of a sudden they abbruptly pull back, shocking the listener with the beautiful contrast. The technicality of the riffage is simply astounding, and Tosin Abasi pulls off feats of musicality that I never thought possible. Behind all of this, drummer Navene Koperweis astounds with his layering, thunderous rhythm section. This album is one of those albums where I found that on first listen, certain songs stood out to me while others I didn't like so much, but after subsequent listens my perspective would change and I would have new favorites after each listen. This album is a perspective changing masterpiece.

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 Animals As Leaders by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.06 | 196 ratings

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Animals As Leaders
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Animals as Leaders - st (2009)

Tosin Abasi's Animals as leaders is more like a project then a real band. This album is a vehicle for showing his amazing skills as a guitar-player and his daring composition style. The result is an extremely fast instrumental metal-fusion album with a sort of modern approach to Holdsworth's guitar techniques. All compositions are combinations of ideas and there's no concept, advanced song-writing or progressive mind-set to be found. We are listening this music for the bizarre technique and some interesting harmonic findings that actually do remind us of other progressive metal acts. The time signatures also are intelligent. Some songs evoke words like 'technology' or 'future'.

The techniques of Tosin Abasi are however quite interesting. Not only does he play fast metal styled shreds, but he also has some tabbing techniques and clean solo's that are original. With his eight-string guitar (two extra lower strings) he wrote some short modern guitar pieces that stand out because of the variety in pitch, that was never heard on six-strings guitars. Interesting as it may be, don't expect catchy melodies.

Conclusion. A musician's album full of modern guitar pyrotechnics that is original enough to be worthwhile listening to, whilst some of the compositions are also interesting because of their dark fusion moods. Guitar players should have healthy self-esteem before getting into this. Not the kind of soulful prog I like, but good enough for three and a halve stars.

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 Weightless by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 144 ratings

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Weightless
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Negoba
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.

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