People tend to think and listen along genre lines. They tell themselves “I enjoy band X, so bands like band X will also be up my alley.” Most of the time, that is a sound way to go, and a good stepping off point in this fast food music culture where we consume a streaming track at a time. Then there is a band like Animals As Leaders. Whether you have never been into the band or bands of this ilk, or have been in deep since ‘CAFO’, AAL is a band that takes all comers by surprise and pays off like a strong drink after a particularly rough week at the office.
On their new album The Madness Of Many (Sumerian) Animals As Leaders continues to mine uncharted territory, shattering preconceived notions about what modern music of any genre can be. There is no pretentious theme, no album arc discussed in the liner notes, no narrative journey beyond the notes emanating from your speakers to distract you from the finality of the stunning sounds you hear. Just pure blissful chaos that is both chill and heavy, all at once.
The strength of ALL is based on the ability to compose complex poly-rhythms. To be able to pull this off in a way that is meaningful and not gymnastic guitar-wankery, you must have upper echelon talent. Not just the skills to shred, but one needs to have a great ear and a deft sense of timing. Drummer Matt Garska is the glue for this band, and having being a rock since he came into the fold a while back. Meanwhile much like Jeff Beck, Pat Metheny, Adrian Belew and others before them, Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes have redefined progressive guitar music. Together they are individually stunning, but combining their skills they great a sonic landscape of dirge like rhythms and soaring melodies.
Songs like ‘Arithmophobia’, ‘Ectogenesis’, ‘Inner Assassins’ just boil over with ingenuity and style. From the more traditional Jazz rock of ‘Private Visions Of The World’, the heavier passages of ‘Transcentience’, to the ebb and flow of ‘Apeirophobia’, this album is pretty much start to finish flawless.
Animals As Leaders have something to offer any music fan, not just rock, metal, or guitar loving ones. The only down moment on this one is when it is all over.