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Animals As Leaders - The Joy Of Motion CD (album) cover


Animals As Leaders


Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.78 | 100 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Heavy, Detailed, Complex, Beautiful

Like many, I was completely blown away by Animals as Leaders debut album. It was music unlike anything I'd ever heard. Not quite a decade later and there are more imitators than you can throw a headless 8 string at. Instrumental djent has become almost synonymous with modern prog metal. Scanning through Spotify, the sound has been so diluted that it's hard to surprise. While AaL certainly didn't sophomore slump with WEIGHTLESS, they didn't achieve that "holy shiz, what did I just hear" of the debut. It was probably impossible.

Enter JOY OF MOTION. In it, AaL may have musically eclipsed the debut. The fact that I almost universally turn to this album rather than any of the other 3 even after 3 years when I want to hear their sound point to that fact. The special sauce that for me takes AaL above the imitators is the musicality. There is a sense of melody, of composition, of ethereal beauty that makes this music meaningful (to these ears) to people beyond metal heads, guitar nerds, and prog junkies. Songs like "The Woven Web" and "Kaskade" are soundscapes that I can dive into, headphones taking me away from the rest of the world. Yet the overall sound is perhaps heavier than ever. Guitarist Tosin Abasi had by this point full integrated his thumb-thumping, slap-bass derived technique which adds a new layer to the mix.

While the music here is unflinchingly complex, I get less of a sense that the band is trying to simply blow their chops as they did during the first two albums. Everything has a purpose, and the melodic lines are more emotionally articulated. To be sure, there are still passages that would frighten young guitarists back to their mothers, but that aspect is less in your face. The rhythm guitar is front and center, and the programming elements continue to be essential glue that accents the music.

Bottom line: Not only my favorite Animals as Leaders album, my favorite modern prog/instrumental djent album

Negoba | 5/5 |


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