Some albums defy reviewing, you can say what you want about them but at the end of the day what you get and what you find within it is a completely personal experience. This is more true amongst instrumental music than anything else and Animals as Leaders are the perfect example of it. Now on their third album, this American instrumental prog-metal band create music that is as difficult to place as it is to review, in saying all that we are about to give it a go.
Opening track “Kascade” really sets the tone for this album, as it quickly becomes a sprawling, complicated epic that bears a resemblance in sound to it’s title. It’s a piece of music that leaps and falls around you and very quickly has you absorbed in it. From there on this album twists and bends it’s way through 12 pieces of complicated and yet beautiful music. Whether it be the gentler touches found in “Air Chrysalis”, the jazz inspired “Another Year” or the all out tech metal of “Tooth and Claw”, there is something in all of these songs to be explored, unpicked and appreciated.
It barely needs to be said but the playing throughout is phenomenal. Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes makes noises with guitars I wasn’t even aware were possible and Matt Garstka is one hell of a drummer. Where they really shine is in the crafting of these songs, which is near perfect. Every single one twists and winds and yet manages to make perfect sense. This becomes even more apparent within the structure of the album as a whole. It feels like a journey which you have agreed to come along on without ever really knowing where you are going. This is the musical equivalent of following Alice through the Looking Glass and at times it might be even more bonkers.
Animals as Leaders are obviously not going to be for everyone, how can they be? However, if you have any interest in progressive metal they are worth a listen just to marvel at the construction of these songs. These guys have created a piece of music as challenging as it is beautiful and whether you like that kind of thing or not, you damn well have to respect it.
For Fans of: Periphery, Chimp Spanner
Choice Cuts: Kascade, The Future That Awaited Me