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Animals As Leaders - The Joy Of Motion review

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Band: Animals As Leaders
Album: The Joy Of Motion
Release date: March 2014

01. Ka$cade
02. Lippincott
03. Air Chrysalis
04. Another Year
05. Physical Education
06. Tooth And Claw
07. Crescent
08. The Future That Awaited Me
09. Para Mexer
10. The Woven Web
11. Mind-Spun
12. Nephele

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

While their previous effort may have lowered expectations for those left wanting a spiritual successor to the self-titled debut, AAL's return has been undoubtedly anticipated throughout the progressive metal community. With a production headed by Periphery's Misha Mansoor and Adam "Nolly" Getgood alongside Diego Farias (Volumes), it was clear this album was going to be an attempt to return to past greatness. The 2009 self-titled debut was more of a solo effort by guitarist Tosin Abasi with the production wisdom of Mansoor, followed by Weightless in 2011 which focused on moving towards a cohesive band with the addition of virtuoso Javier Reyes. Predictably, the natural progression is exactly what you would expect to hear knowing the history.

The prodigal fire of genius can be tempered with the balance of complementary musicians, here we have Matt Garstka taking up a heavy role on drums. Perhaps trying to distance himself from the overindulgences of fellow guitar legends Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, seeking a full-band chemistry has served Abasi well. Listening to all the counterpoints and the almost unbelievable ability of Garstka's following footwork, I feel the pulse of nuerons firing as the auditory landscapes are painted in my ears. I personally enjoyed the more authentic and free-sounding Weightless, but even I was pleasantly surprised to hear a return to that brutal pure edge from the first individualistic endeavor. Eight-string guitars have the incredible dynamic ability to physically move you with their low-frequency blasts, but paired with smooth harmonies à la Di Meola, you have a powerful concoction of hypnotic seduction.

"Physical Education" is by far the best track off the album, with beautiful songwriting bringing you in-and-out of the intensity with chugs, slaps, and diverse electronic soundscapes. A quirky, luminous treble lead layers over, all culminating in one of my favorite AAL signatures, the low-bass groove sparring in a violent dance with a very capable drummer. Throughout the album, the jazz influence is never outweighed by the equal presence of shredding and staccato djent chugging. These hues all meld together with a seasoning of programmed electronics to the perfect consistency.

The production is flawless, although I never quite warmed up to Periphery, it appears Mansoor & Co. know what they are doing with all these newfangled software programs. Speaking of, I sometimes have trouble fully believing a perfect-sounding album when I hear it due to these modern crutches and blemish-erasers. On a previous review (Anus Pastry?) I contemplated the ethical use of sound-replacement and software surrogate instruments, does it really matter? The end product is very enjoyable but some may be turned off by the distinct lack of humanism. For those of you, I recommend listening to Para Mexer, where you can at least hear some uncoated string squeaks to feel that human warmth again. If you don't get the hype and can't follow the love of complex structures, polyrhythms, or understand why they will only let you enjoy some sick groove for fleeting moment, just remember this quote I found on an internet search:

"The illusion of perfection occurs when the quality of something is greater than one's ability to perceive its faults." - dylancatlow

Written on 26.03.2014 by Intermittent reviewer, full-time listener.


Comments: 7   Visited by: 397 users
26.03.2014 - 13:49
Rating: 8

Drawl... Wanna... Listen...!
26.03.2014 - 16:36
Au Pays Natal
Along with Scale The Summit I enjoyed their debut albums, they were something refreshing. But with each subsequent release I get more and more bored. The review is well written but I may just have a cup of coffee with this album - see if it's any different than their previous stuff.
26.03.2014 - 17:47
Rating: 7

Found the last album good, but, I just really don't want to listen to this, be it good or not.

Instrument Djent is good... For a while. Then you realize that it all blends together and there's nothing to come back for.
27.03.2014 - 02:34
Rating: 8

First of all really well written. Secondly I'll need to keep listening to this to see if it provides more depth and stands the test of time but so far I'm more drawn in with every listen. I think it's their most complete work to date offering plenty for everyone to enjoy. Personal favorites so far Ka$cade, Tooth and Claw, Physical Education, and Nephele.
27.03.2014 - 04:11

I'm rather put off by anything Misha and Nolly touch production wise. As producers their ear for good tones and balances is counteracted by their copy/paste style of recording that sucks the life out of the album. I enjoyed Periphery but it was always hard for me to listen to it for very long at all, then I discovered both Nolly and Misha "Just copy and paste the riff if it's the same" which as a musician, feels unethical to me, and as a listener deprives the album of any organic quality it could have.
28.03.2014 - 02:11
Rating: 7

Loving this! Another stellar performance by Animals As Leaders
29.03.2014 - 05:02
Jovian Luna

Excellent review

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