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THE SOUND OF ANIMALS FIGHTING

Heavy Prog • United States


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The Sound of Animals Fighting biography
Vocalist Rich BALLING's THE SOUND of ANIMALS FIGHTING is less a band and more an underground rock circus; barring guitarist Matt EMBREE and drummer Chris TSAGAKIS (who played with Balling in the ska outfit RX BANDITS back when the man was a trombonist), and vocalist Anthony GREEN of CIRCA SURVIVE, SoAF's lineup is constantly evolving and always filled with willing members of the experimental indie scene. As if to doubly state the lack of consistency between albums, all members and guests in the band adopt animal names (and masks)-- for example, BALLING is known as 'Nightingale'.

In 2004, the core four members of the band started recording their first album. Grabbing a couple members of the alternative band FINCH as well as various mixers, engineers and PR peoples, Animals Fighting released their first record, the foggy concept album 'Tiger and the Duke' in early 2005. The release confused most critics, who didn't know what to do with its bizarre recording methods (supposedly BALLING locked individual band members alone in the studio to record their tracks without listening to the other musicians, and then mixed it at a later date). The second album, 2006's 'Lover the Lord Has Left Us', had a totally overhauled lineup except for the four core members (more RX Bandits, less Finches, some other indie bands), focused less on the hard rock side of the band and more on the electronic aspect. The album resulted in the group's only foray onto stage - complete behind their trade mark animal masks - resulting in Residents-style theatrics on the West Coast.

Their third album, 'The Ocean and the Sun' (2008), returned to the harder, tighter sound of the first release but not without its rap sheet of guests, including BALLING's father.

The style of THE SOUND of ANIMALS FIGHTING certainly reflects their collaborative method of recording. The staples of experimental hard rock and trip-hop run across the music, but BALLING's ska history provides a funky backbone, and his jazzy and theatrical sides are allowed to shine too. The result could be compared to a less disciplined MARS VOLTA.


- The Whistler -

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THE SOUND OF ANIMALS FIGHTING top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 17 ratings
Tiger and the Duke
2005
4.00 | 11 ratings
Lover, the Lord Has Left Us...
2006
3.81 | 20 ratings
The Ocean And The Sun
2008

THE SOUND OF ANIMALS FIGHTING Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.92 | 3 ratings
We Must Become The Change We Want To See
2006

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THE SOUND OF ANIMALS FIGHTING Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Tiger and the Duke by SOUND OF ANIMALS FIGHTING, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.93 | 17 ratings

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Tiger and the Duke
The Sound of Animals Fighting Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

4 stars "The Sound of Animals Fighting" was a prog rock supergroup that existed between 2004 and 2008. During this time, they released 3 full length albums and performed live 4 times. The live line-up consisted of 12 members who performed while wearing masks of animals. The group was founded by Rich Balling of "Rx Bandits" and several of the members were also from that group. Also involved were Anthony Green of "Circa Survive", Craig Owens of "Chiodos", Matt Embree of "Rx Bandits", Chris Tsagakis also of "Rx Bandits" and "Technology", and Bradley Bell of "Chiodos" among others.

Their first album was called "Tiger and the Duke" which had a total of 15 performers involved in the recording of the album. Of those 15, five of them provided vocal parts. The album is based on a story, or concept, of a captain of a ship and the title character Duke. The ship is full of crazy animals that make a ruckus as the cargo of the ship. The Captain jumps off the ship when he discovers his sons have started a mutiny. There are two versions of this album, the original which is the track listing above, and a reissue from 2007, where the tracks are remixed and with different interludes, and there are also remixes of 8 tracks from their 2nd album done by artists like "Portugal. The Man" and "Technology". This review will be of the original album.

"Overture" is an eerie beginning with mysterious sounding effects and a drone. "Act I: Chasing Suns" begins with a heavy and fast beginning and screaming vocals. After a short section, things calm and then turn chaotic again with a complex guitar section and then several of the singers singing parts at the same time, probably as characters in the story. There are screaming vocals and normal vocals at the same time. Someone said this album sounds like "The Mars Volta" except more unrestrained. Yeah that really sums it up. The music is complex and extremely progressive, complex and loud. But it is all very well performed just like TMV.

"Interlude" comes next. This is a bit saner, with repeating tonal percussion patterns and great instrumental effects. "Act II: All is Ash or the Light Shining Through It" follows with a progressive Ska style, if you can imagine that. The beat levels out a bit as vocalists sings their parts in a less chaotic way than in Act I, but in a tricky and fairly fast rhythm, with that ska influence also apparent. That Post Punk feel is quite apparent with the odd time signatures and sounds mixing with more standard beats.

The 2nd "Interlude" uses a backwards loop against a forward feeling electronic beat for a nice psychedelic effect. "Act III: Modulate Back to the Tonic" starts with what seems like a harmless beat, but then a spoken word vocal and singing vocal go on at the same time. Suddenly the drums go crazy and the schizophrenic feel of the track becomes more intense. The track goes through several meter and mood changes throughout, sometimes sounding like two songs are playing at the same time in some parts.

The 3rd "Interlude" consists of electronic tones and sounds that seem to be sent through a speed processor as bent sounds and off-tone harmonies permeate the track. "Act IV: You Don't Need a Witness" returns to that wall of sound style from the first act and even rehashes some of the themes from the album. Things calm a bit when the vocals start. But don't expect any style to go on for to long as this track continually changes styles, things can be sane and then suddenly wild and chaotic, but the musicianship is always top notch with a lot of progressiveness throughout. The track ends with electronic effects. "Postlude" ends the album with 6 minutes of electronic experimentation and atmospheric sounds.

The album is a short 34 minutes and, even though the musicianship is top rate, its probably not the best one out of the trilogy to get. It's still good, but not as great as "The Ocean and the Sun", which is their last album to date. The music is quirky and chaotic, and if you don't like The Mars Volta at their most chaotic, then you will not like this, but the other side of the coin holds true also. TMV lovers will love this. But be warned that it is short, but there is a lot of music packed in that half hour of play time. I would like to hear the reissue to see if it is better, and also know that it is quite a bit longer. Anyway, if you love your prog heavy and chaotic, then this is for you.

 Lover, the Lord Has Left Us... by SOUND OF ANIMALS FIGHTING, THE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.00 | 11 ratings

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Lover, the Lord Has Left Us...
The Sound of Animals Fighting Heavy Prog

Review by paroxix

5 stars with so many so mnay muscians on this album you may think it they coudl of ruined it but this is my favourite progressive rock album that has come out in teh last 5 years (The Dear Hunter's Act II: a close 2nd) i don't know where to begin with this so ill start with my favourite song

The Heretic a haunting track with beautiful vocals synth and piano the lyrics are very thoughful and it was amazing when they add the backing vocals just the greatest track they have on this album i don't have much to say about the rest of teh albu mbecuase i could go one for hours and hours telling oyu guys how great it is so ill tel lyou about my least favourite track

there can be no dispute that monsters live among us

WHA T THE HELL IS THIS

its garbage its not even a song its just such a weak song the lyrcis have nothing to do with the title and teh end of an album its just pure siliness from such a great band

anyways even with tha ttrack i still rate it 5 stars becuase the otehr 13 tracks are so stellar

 The Ocean And The Sun by SOUND OF ANIMALS FIGHTING, THE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.81 | 20 ratings

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The Ocean And The Sun
The Sound of Animals Fighting Heavy Prog

Review by paroxix

3 stars Ahh where to begin with this one

for starters i thought this was a much weaker effort than lover, the lord has left us

while i thas a few good songs in my opinion its a rather weak album espially after teh improvment they showed on lover the lord has left us

lets evaluate the tracks shall we

1.)Intro just a filler track in my opinion it has no purpose other than to add slightly more texture to the album overall a very weak track

2.)Ocean & The Sun

my favourite track on the whole album this is what i expected of TSOAF when i went to get this album it is a greact track with slighty distorted vocals and great ambient noises thoughout. a great track

3.)I,The Swan

another great track this was the song that made me think i had another great album on my hands

4-6) these 3 tracks made me change that thought very quickly though while they had some good parts i didn't enjoy them and they seemed to drag on and on while i listened to them not very strong effort

7)the heraldic beak of the manufacturer's medallion

a song that made me get my hopes up again with a great gutiar begining this track is excellent from all point of view it soon breaks into a screamoesque verse though but still sounds great. a bit difficult to understand teh lyrics though. it then slows down a bit (maybe 10bpm) and becomes an amzing track with great ad-libbing with acoustic gutiar backing. then back into the verse the song then proceeds with a awesome instrumental break. then breaks back into the verse and just sounds AMAZING. it remidns me of why i love prog rock

8-9) after song 7 tracks 8 and 9 disapoint chinese new year is some children chanting? and ubekistan reminds me of why progressive rock became unpopular with huge excesses that really shouldn't be there and make the song much weaker then what it could of been

10-11) they weren't that bad actually the last 3 songs on this album may have just saved it from me giving it a 2 star rating

12.) On the ocassion of wet snow

i do enjoy slower songs and this track is no excpetion its just a beatiful way to end of the album and is what unltimatly saves this albu mfro mbein ga failure in my opinion

overall a solid 3 star rating from me i expect better from such a talented band

 We Must Become The Change We Want To See by SOUND OF ANIMALS FIGHTING, THE album cover Live, 2006
3.92 | 3 ratings

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We Must Become The Change We Want To See
The Sound of Animals Fighting Heavy Prog

Review by OceanTree

4 stars So much things going on in there! There is some dancers, painters, literature, a movie at the back plus the the multiple artists. It's like a big collective of the arts. It's really impressive.

The only flaw is that the camera doesn't really seem that professional. The quality is not that good and the angles are not the best... besides that everything is top notch.

I always wondered how they would do their songs live and thought that they would use a whole lot of sampling and that it would lack some presence but not at all. They actually find a way to make those sounds with their gears except for the Arabic singing which is sampled. The songs are astounding as usual from TSOAF and the great musicianship is still present. They changed some songs to put a concept to the whole show like the song "The Heretic" is sang a capella as a sober and soothing intro before the BIG BANG starts.

If you like The Sound Of Animals Fighting this DVD is a must as it isn't just a show but an experience as well.

 Tiger and the Duke by SOUND OF ANIMALS FIGHTING, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.93 | 17 ratings

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Tiger and the Duke
The Sound of Animals Fighting Heavy Prog

Review by The Whistler
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Okay, right off the bat...this album has screaming. No, wait, don’t run away. Now, I don’t consider myself a screamy music fan. Or even knowledgeable really. I’ve heard some bad screamo bands, some not quite as bad screamo bands, and even went to a concert where I couldn’t hear stuff good until the next morning.

The point is, this album surprised me. It’s really not terribly screamo, by the way. It calls itself “experimental,” which is might be but probably isn’t. It’s a weird brand of art metal in a way. And it manages to be very intelligent along the way. Well, at least it’s interesting.

The “Overture” of the album is really just a minute or so of murky sound effects. Stabbing for atmosphere. The real fun starts with “Chasing Suns,” which opens up with blistering riffage, blustering sound effects, and...well, screaming. But the riffage is excellent, the screaming quickly dissolves into unintelligible lyrics, and the song takes plenty of twists and turns to become a very interesting, almost epic, headbanger. Best song on the album really.

“Interlude” is the first of many (three?) Brian Eno-esuqe soundscapes that divide the songs. Not terribly memorable, but rhythmic, so I have no complaints. “All is Ash or the Light Shining Through It” crashes through the haze with Latin leaning riffs, almost laid back, before picking up speed and turning into a pleasant hard rocker.

There’s another “Interlude,” this one more electronic, but tasty, and then “Modulate Back to the Tonic.” This one’s a little schizo, alternating between spoken words with an alt rock backing to shouted chorus framed by a heavier backing. It shifts back and forth for a bit, before unexpectedly bleeding into a final “Interlude,” this one all bleeps and bloops...but it’s short, and really just a set up for the closer, “You Don’t Need a Witness,” which magically manages to take the weirdo elements of the other songs and cram them into a single number, just with more psychedelic flourish and theatrics than before. Even if the ending is a touch anticlimactic...

The only crime I can call down upon this piece of work with great certainty is the “Postlude.” Five minutes of pointless, boring noise. It’s meant to be another Eno soundscape, but unlike all those cute lil’ interludes and overtures, it’s first long, second it doesn’t evolve that much, third it’s LONG, it’s not that rhythmic either, and finally, it’s LOOOOOOONG. I usually skip it.

In fact, I should probably lower the rating just a taddy bit because of that wretched “Postlude,” but I shan’t. Why? Because this album really, really surprised me. It’s GOOD damn it. I mean, it shoves together a bunch of elements I didn’t think could fit (ambient electronics, sceamy metal, experimental stuff...hell, “All is Ash” turned into a waltz at some point, and “Modulate” had a blues guitar solo for cryin’ out loud).

To sum up Tiger and the Duke in one word would be “pleasantly surprising.”Or, in two words, “eclectic.” And that’s good! Half an hour of pure screamy art metal would end up tracking low on the attention span chart, no matter how fun it was. But this has diversity outside, and inside, the songs. Pretty much, whatever you come in expecting, you might get it, but you’ll probably get something else out of it too.

No. The rating is a four. It’s a bit of a cheat, since this isn’t like a group of unprofessional or anything. Sound of Animals Fighting is a superground after all. Hell, Sound isn’t a group, it’s a machine. And, luckily, the machine happens to be very well oiled right now. But if you don’t mind a pinch of screaming with your art metal (and definitely some alternative rock connections, so maybe I mean alt metal...whatever the hell that would mean), then this is easily worth a listen.

 The Ocean And The Sun by SOUND OF ANIMALS FIGHTING, THE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.81 | 20 ratings

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The Ocean And The Sun
The Sound of Animals Fighting Heavy Prog

Review by JTP88

4 stars The Sound Of Animals Fighting are an experimental band with great instrumentation, beautiful guitar melodies, amazing drums and loads of all kinds of experiences.

After a short intro, The Ocean And The Sun comes in, and this one is one of the weakest songs in the album, it's just uninteresting, fortunately it is followed by I, The Swan, a great song, the children voices fit strangely well and the explosion by the end of the song is epic, a great one. Another Leather Lung is another great song, with really weird screaming and out-of-this-world drumming, contrasting with the calm melodies of the rest of the song. Cellophane has one of the most beautiful guitar melodies ever, really, then the voice comes in, softly, you can't understand a word he says, but it doesn't matter, the depth of this song is incredible, meanwhile the song accelerates until an insane drum break and a really weird guitar solo, one of the greatest songs on the album. Uzbekistan is the most experimental track ever, is completely insane, the weirdest drumming, the altered voices, the hypnotizing synth, all the noise, it's just spectacular. The album finishes with On The Occasion Of Wet Snow a song as weak as the first one.

On the negative side, first: fillers! although Chinese New Year is entertaining, Lude is completely pointless and Ahab is just noise; second: woman talking! in almost every song there's a woman in a awful monologue, with a monotonic voice, really irritating, talking about saving the world or whatever, almost excruciating.

A great album, very experimental, very original, really well composed, great musicians, an excellent album.

 The Ocean And The Sun by SOUND OF ANIMALS FIGHTING, THE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.81 | 20 ratings

BUY
The Ocean And The Sun
The Sound of Animals Fighting Heavy Prog

Review by OceanTree

5 stars The fist album I heard from The Sound Of Animals Fighting was "The Tiger and The Duke" and I thought it was really good and made me think of The Fall Of Troy a little bit but with this album they completely difference themselves from that genre. Everything is so well structured! Every song is a masterpiece with their own "thing" that gets to you and keeps you hooked. The first listen won't get you addicted of course but this album really grows on you. The more you'll listen to it the more you'll like it or even love it.

The band offers great experimentations and melodies. What I really like about the melodies on the album is that they are adapted to an "abnormal" structure and they fit perfectly. Some melodies extend to 5 measures and they are able to fit perfectly 9/8 and 7/8 time signatures one after another. Some bands use weird time signatures and the result plain sucks but not with this band. They really mastered the complexities that music can have and it shows.

At first I thought the interludes weren't necessary but it's inevitably a part of the album. It was made this way for a reason and they add a certain feel to the whole thing. They take you from one track to another. They tell you about the band's philosophy. Even in some tracks there is some narrating in other languages than English like Arabic and French. I don't understand the Arabic but it's still beautiful t hear and it's a glimpse of another culture. I think that's what the band wanted to put in their album : unity.

5/5

Thanks to atavachron for the artist addition.

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