King of the Animals - A review of the album "Animals as Leaders"
After his former band Reflux disbanded and taking jazz/classical fundamental lessons, little-known shred guitarist Tosin Abasi took up an offer by Prosthetic Records to record a solo ablum, choosing Animals as Leaders as the name for the instrumental project... addressing humanity's carnal, animal-like nature of the old.
Currently, Tosin Abasi plays in AAL along with Javier Reyes (Guitar) and Matt Garstka (drums), released a second album (Weightless) and have been constantly touring and recording new material for a third opus. The band's first, still somehow remains my favorite.
Tosin collaborated with Misha Mansoor (of Djent-pioneers Periphery) to record the album. As both of them were responsible for writing the music, it seems their collaboration has influenced each other's later works (notably Periphery II).
Aside from that, the album itself is very well-structured. I have always looked for an album that has peaks, valleys, and climaxes... not just a straight road of breakdowns over and over again. I can honestly say that this album is a journey of some sort... in a way, a cross country marathon, if you think about it.
One of the best written songs would have to be "On Impulse", a beautiful track starting with clean guitar and building up to a climax of speed and energy. It's still my favorite of this album.
Both Mansoor and Abasi produced the album, and it sounds very tight and clear, without being over-produced... something I've wanted for a while. The production really stands out in track like "Tempting Time" and "Throughly at Home", both great examples of the duo's collaboration.
This is not just chugging. This is not just breakdowns repeating every minute. Actually, there are no breakdowns at all... Just fluid leads, solid sweeps, and beautiful cleans. Though some parts feel "showoff-ish", the use of the seven string guitar, the pounding drum machine, and the ambience of the synths bring this album together into a whole opus.
The best performance of the album? "Song of Solomon". Enough said.
A quintessential prog/djent album and so far the best of the bands career. Well-executed, well-planned, and powerful, this is an album that must be in any shred-head/metal-head/djentleman collection.
Pros: Great production and performance, beautful songriting
Cons: occasionally parts feel filler and unnessesary
Overall, 9 out of 10 stars
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