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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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The Madness Of ManyThe Madness Of Many
Sumerian Records 2016
Audio CD$8.24
$7.08 (used)
The Joy of MotionThe Joy of Motion
Sumerian 2014
Audio CD$6.07
$5.94 (used)
Animals As Leaders - Encore EditionAnimals As Leaders - Encore Edition
Extra tracks
Prosthetic 2015
Audio CD$6.99
$8.20 (used)
WeightlessWeightless
Prosthetic 2011
Audio CD$7.82
$4.99 (used)
Animals As Leaders: Weightless Vinyl LPAnimals As Leaders: Weightless Vinyl LP
Prosthetic Records
Vinyl$22.95
Animals As Leaders: Animals As Leaders (Encore Edition Colored Vinyl) Vinyl 2LP (Record Store Day)Animals As Leaders: Animals As Leaders (Encore Edition Colored Vinyl) Vinyl 2LP (Record Store Day)
Prosthetic Records
Vinyl$32.98
Animals As LeadersAnimals As Leaders
Prosthetic 2009
Audio CD$7.28
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Animals As LeadersAnimals As Leaders
Limited Edition
Prosthetic Records 2011
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The Joy of Motion by Animals As Leaders (2014-03-25)The Joy of Motion by Animals As Leaders (2014-03-25)
Sumerian
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Prosthetic Records
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ANIMALS AS LEADERS discography


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

4.03 | 243 ratings
Animals As Leaders
2009
4.05 | 177 ratings
Weightless
2011
3.74 | 72 ratings
The Joy Of Motion
2014
4.11 | 9 ratings
The Madness of Many
2016

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)

3.75 | 25 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
4.03 | 243 ratings

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Animals As Leaders
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Meshuggah may have been the originators of the djent sound of progressive metal, but there was a time when Animals as Leaders looked poised to become the lead band in the subgenre. Whilst the buzz has faded slightly, their debut remains a confident mingling of technically flawless progressive, metal, and jazz influences, in an all- instrumental configuration which gives them ample space to display their impressive skills.

The album is saved from descending into empty noodling by the band's distinctive and very individual sound, and to a certain extent I put the group in the same general category as Ozric Tentacles, in that both are progressively-inclined instrumental bands who are associated with a particular sound so closely that they could almost be accused of making the same album over and over again. On balance, I think Weightless was better than this one, but only a little bit.

 Weightless by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.05 | 177 ratings

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Weightless
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by poito

5 stars Still keeping high. These animals really lead. The drums are much better than in their debut 09 album, djent sounds are more prominent, and the themes are a bit darker in general. This is anything but a weightless album. Here they get even further away from melodic sounds, but I would say it is still accessible and pleasant enough for a general prog audience. They still remind me of King Crimson, in this occasion closer to the Starless and Red era. Metal is almost gone. Is this a new path? Though I don't like the excessively dominant djent distorted and overpowered sound at times (don't care whether it is a style or not, it's simply boring), they use it with enough taste and variation not to dismiss the tracks for the next listening. This is again a masterpiece or close. 4.5.
 Animals As Leaders by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.03 | 243 ratings

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Animals As Leaders
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by poito

5 stars Short and easy. Deep breath for our souls. How refreshing is when new life comes to music. From time to time someone comes out of the crowded forest of virtuosos and makes music. Tosin's compositions are not free of influences; you'll recognize plenty of them, bits of King Crimson's second life here, some Petrucci's there, all spiced with djent sounds. It is difficult not to classify someone playing fast riffs all the time as tech (are they machines? Why they play so fast? many complain), and it is difficult for fast players not to repeat themes, use arpeggios and scales, but this man does it so elegantly and imperceptibly that you have the feeling of listening all different. This music is not for all, but it is great. Give it a try, you'll be grateful. There aren't any lyrics to distract you, pure joy.
 The Joy Of Motion by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.74 | 72 ratings

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

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I must admit that Technical Metal and even Math Rock aren't anywhere near the top of my favourite Prog sub-genres but once in a while i'll put on something like "The Joy Of Motion" just to be reminded at how incredible some of these musicians are. Complex instrumental music is often described as "cold" but I rarely felt that with this album as there is an organic feeling throughout this record. This is my first taste of ANIMALS AS LEADERS and certainly guitarist Tosin Abasi has blown me away but the drummer Matthew Garstka also needs to be mentioned for his outstanding play.

The first time I put this album on and heard "Ka$cade" a smile came over my face after hearing such complex music with all those punchy sounds. And I have to mention the sound quality which is perfect thankfully which helps in the presentation of such skilled musicians. I love the guitar in this opening track especially just before 4 minutes. "Lippincott" is about precision although I like the calm a minute in with those synth-like sounds. This will appear again later and man this guy can drum.

"Air Chrysalis" is so uplifting after a minute with that beautiful sounding guitar which is a nice contrast to the sections with those deeper sounds. "Another Year" is a lighter track with some cool guitar expressions. Another song that stands out is "Crescent" where it sounds like a hopped up car idling. Love it! My favourite though is "The Future That Awaited Me" which is gorgeous and emotional for me. Such an uplifting sound here and the guitar moves me. "The Woven Web" has a spacey sound after 2 minutes which I really enjoy as well as the heaviness with atmosphere that follows. Great sound before 4 minutes as well. "Nephele" ends the album with heavy riffs and insane drumming as the guitar solos over top. Also check out the beautiful acoustic section.

A very impressive all instrumental album, in fact I have already ordered their debut.

 Animals As Leaders by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.03 | 243 ratings

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Animals As Leaders
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars The brainchild of founder Tosin Abasi from Washington DC, the all instrumental jazz-fusion meets djent project ANIMALS AS LEADERS is more or less his baby although the band tours and presents itself as a full-fledged musical collaboration. This creative outlet began with Abasi's involvement as the guitarist in the tech metal core band Reflux. After the band ceased to be, Abasi was approached by the metal record label Prosthetic Records who were majorly impressed with his chops and wanted him to record a solo album but Abasi declined feeling the idea was self-indulgent and instead he took a year off to study music in an academic setting to further his growing interest in jazz, classical guitar and composition. After he finished his homework he took Prosthetic up on their offer and then proceeded to let it all rip and roar. He chose the name ANIMALS AS LEADERS after reading the novel "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn which dealt with the subject of anthropocentrism.

In 2009 Tosin released his first album playing his eight-string guitar and bass as well as co-producing with his partner in crime Misha Mansoor who handled engineering, drum programming and mixing. This album got a lot of praise when it came out due to its challenging virtuosic performances that add a lot of variety and spice to the often impressive but sterile compositions that many a virtuoso can dish out. A child of his time, Abasi pretty much handled all the duties formerly requiring an army of talents to accomplish and if he had been ten to twenty years older he could have easily fit in on the Shrapnel Records label that ushered in all kinds of young talented virtuoso guitarists to the world. Some of those artists like Tony MacAlpine and Greg Howe seem like antecedent influences to Abasi's work, but i also hear some Pat Metheny in some of the lighter fluffier pieces, some mid-tempo ones bringing Allan Holdsworth and even Shawn Lane to mind and of course, the undeniable palm-muted technique of djent tech thrashers Meshuggah in the metallic edge that many of these tracks dish out.

While the influences on board are plenty, what i find refreshing about the debut album by ANIMALS AS LEADERS is how some fresh new takes on these techy fusion guitar jams play out. While the album is clearly created to show off Abasi's technical wizardry, he was prescient enough to know that wizardry alone for wizardry's sake had been played out and that extra oomph was needed to guarantee a pleasant listening experience. Well, pleasant this is indeed with lots of chops to excite my hunger for lightning fast guitar runs configured with insanely fast and unpredictable progressive time signatures alternating between quiet cozy numbers and rowdy rockers that unleash monster riffage and extreme bass frenetics.

My only complaint is that this album may be a tad too long for its intensity and contains a couple tracks that seem a little redundant but overall i find this to be a beautifully constructed modern day jazz-fusion guitar and bass extravaganza with beautiful atmosphere, crystal clear production and a musical passion that keeps the quality sizzling. OK, one more complaint. I wish there would have been a real drummer. While the programmed drumming is far from unpleasant or bad in any way, it really is no proper substitute for a talented jazz-fusion drummer who can really bring out the best in a band like classic Bill Bruford did in Yes. Excellent album but not quite a classic.

 Animals As Leaders by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.03 | 243 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 epitomises 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. )

 The Joy Of Motion by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.74 | 72 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.
 The Joy Of Motion by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.74 | 72 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

 The Joy Of Motion by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.74 | 72 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.

 Weightless by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.05 | 177 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.
Thanks to burritounit for the artist addition. and to CCVP for the last updates

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