Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

ANIMALS AS LEADERS

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • United States


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Animals As Leaders picture
Animals As Leaders biography
Founded in Washington DC, USA in 2007

ANIMALS AS LEADERS is a progressive metal band from Washington, U.S. 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) -

See also: Reflux

ANIMALS AS LEADERS forum topics / tours, shows & news


ANIMALS AS LEADERS forum topics Create a topic now
ANIMALS AS LEADERS tours, shows & news Post an entries now

ANIMALS AS LEADERS Videos (YouTube and more)


Showing only random 3 | Search and add more videos to ANIMALS AS LEADERS

Buy ANIMALS AS LEADERS Music



More places to buy ANIMALS AS LEADERS music online Buy ANIMALS AS LEADERS & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

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)

4.02 | 277 ratings
Animals As Leaders
2009
3.94 | 210 ratings
Weightless
2011
3.79 | 105 ratings
The Joy Of Motion
2014
3.44 | 46 ratings
The Madness Of Many
2016

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Live 2017
2018

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)

3.67 | 32 ratings
Wave Of Babies
2010

ANIMALS AS LEADERS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Madness Of Many by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.44 | 46 ratings

BUY
The Madness Of Many
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Zoltanxvamos

3 stars As some may know, I have a love for instrumental prog rock. This album is totally instrumental, immaculately played, and unbelievably well produced. Tosin Abasi is an absolute beast when it comes down to playing guitar, he is a living legend, and a innovative guitarist as well. Matthew Garstka is also a total beast, his technical abilities behind the drum kit are mindboggling. Travis Stewart isn't an exactly important person on this album even though his atmospheres and sound effects are through the roof. Unfortunately, as well played and well crafted this album is, there is no emotion behind it all. That's my biggest complaint, Tosin Abasi a living guitar legend, he can play impossible riffs, and impossible solos, but he doesn't have soul in his music. His writes totally technical pieces, but nothing that grabs the listeners ear, it's all technique and no emotion. Music is a way to get out emotions, by pouring feelings and soul into your craft, you are able to make beautiful music. This has one of two important factors in prog, ability to play, but no feeling.

This album is impressive to listen to, but I will not be putting on to fit the mood I'm in, unless that mood is me wanting to be impressed by immaculate playing.

 The Joy Of Motion by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.79 | 105 ratings

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

Review by ssmarcus

4 stars The trio of musicians that is Animals as Leaders is arguably the most technically gifted group of musicians working in progressive metal music today - quite an impressive feat when you consider that technical proficiency is essentially a requirement for achieving prog metal greatness. Tosin Abasi, the band's founding member and primary song writer, emerged from the 2000's metalcore scene with an 8-string guitar ready to djent. Of course, Tosin's inhuman playing abilities and impressive musical imagination ultimately made it impossible for him to limit his musical expression to any one sub-genre. He thus turned to jazz and avant-guard metal to breathe a new kind of life into his compositions.

On 'The Joy of Motion,' Animals have crafted an album that is simultaneously brainy and sophisticated but still capable of supplying some more down to earth fun to its listeners. While it is very unlikely this highly experimental and technical form of music would ever find much success in the mainstream, 'The Joy of Motion' still managed to capture an outsized audience for the group.

 Animals As Leaders by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.02 | 277 ratings

BUY
Animals As Leaders
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by ssmarcus

5 stars Animals as Leaders eponymous debut album should be viewed as ground zero for modern progressive metal. Having nearly all the innovations and stylistic variations characteristic of new sounding prog metal released throughout the 2010's, Animals as Leaders set the benchmark for progressive metal greatness in the decade that followed.

For starters, the record incorporated a level of technical complexity in the riffs and song writing previously unheard of outside of the dark underworld of technical death metal. The previous generation of prog metal guitar gods, guitarists like Michael Romeo and John Petrucci, tended to showcase the extent of their technical abilities only in dedicated solos or instrumental passages within the songs or albums while keeping the intros, verses, and choruses relatively simplistic. Tosin not only threw this convention out the window, he demonstrated that making good rhythmic and melodic hooks can be achieved through highly technical playing.

The record also makes extensive use of electronic backing tracks to create more full harmony sections, jazz guitar methods and chord progressions, and djenty-Meshuggah-like riffage. There's a lot more to be said on technical level about what to expect from this music but I believe the items mentioned thus far give the listener enough of a sense of how this record inspired so much of what followed.

 The Madness Of Many by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.44 | 46 ratings

BUY
The Madness Of Many
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by ssmarcus

3 stars When thinking about The Madness of Many, and even Animals as Leaders' legacy more generally, I find it helpful/interesting to compare them with another exciting but "out there" supergroup of an earlier generation: Emerson, Lake, & Palmer.

Like ELP, Animals are a group comprised of three wildly skilled musicians yet one of the members is clearly the driving artistic force behind the whole project. Both groups embraced non-conventional rock band makeups with ELP forgoing a regular guitarist and Animals forgoing a regular bassist. Instead, the leaders of both groups, Tosin Abasi and Keith Emerson of Animals and ELP respectively, embraced evolving electronic music technology and have decided to attack the rock format differently. And even when it comes to the music, I can't help but visualize Tosin tapping away on the lower registers of his 8-string while listening the opening Hammond Organ riff kicks off on ELP's "Tarkus."

But the most important comparison for the sake of this specific review is just how much both groups are capable of simultaneously delivering smooth sounding "hit worthy" material with head scratching experimentation. There are many moments on this record, as with ELP records, where the sentiment of the listener can't help but be, "That was pretty cool? but do I like it?" And although the answer is usually ends of being yes, its still not something I care to ask every time a pop on a record.

 Weightless by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.94 | 210 ratings

BUY
Weightless
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by progtime1234567

4 stars I have listened to this album countless times and It gets better with every listen. The first time I listened to this album I expected It to sound exactly like MESHUGGAH but without the vocals. The truth is it sounds way different from MESHUGGAH. The guitar work performed by Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes is excellent and makes the album sound unique from other Djent bands. Matt Gartska's drumming is also excellent and he is always in time with the two guitarists, he is a human drum machine.

Overall the album is different from other Djent bands that play the same old same old that they always play. If you want some unique instrumental prog rock then try is album out. It is worth it in my opinion.

4.5 stars

 The Joy Of Motion by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.79 | 105 ratings

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

Review by Negoba
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

 The Joy Of Motion by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.79 | 105 ratings

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

Review by Luqueasaur

2 stars Same old same old: 5/10

The technical proficiency of the musicians from ANIMALS AS LEADERS is admirable pretty admirable, something observable since their unpretentious yet successful debut. THE JOY OF MOTION is their third release, a djenty act with huge influences from jazz. It tries to couple prog metal's mathematically intricacy with jazz's delicacy, something honestly pretty difficult to pull off satisfactorily, however not impossible, assuming LYE BY MYSTAKE's FEA JUR did it perfectly. The fact another band managed to do it successfully left me with an even more bitter impression of AAL. Exactly the characteristic that should be their pinnacling quality, their technicality, ends up scheming the album's demise as it sounds extremely insincere and robotic. The melodies, the arrangements, everything, it all sounds meticulously crafted so the album can come off as djenty, "but, like, definitely NOT only djenty, like, not at all man" . If the complex tracks were toned down, the album could be summarized as an average jazz fusion act, but they aren't. They're technical and they try to attain objectives much further beyond the grasp. THE JOY OF MOTION didn't need to be just tasteless djent with mediocre melodies that we all heard before on many other different "modern metal" bands, maybe it could be something transcendental. Something far more creative, innovative, inventive. But it isn't. It's just djent. There's nothing progressive about doing the same old thing again, not even if all you do is modify the progression a little bit here, a little bit there, and add a spicy, different solo in an unexpected moment. Sorry, AAL, but I didn't buy this.

 Animals As Leaders by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.02 | 277 ratings

BUY
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.

 The Joy Of Motion by ANIMALS AS LEADERS album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.79 | 105 ratings

BUY
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
4.02 | 277 ratings

BUY
Animals As Leaders
Animals As Leaders Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

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.

Thanks to burritounit for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives