Animals As Leaders - The Joy Of Motion review
|Band:||Animals As Leaders|
|Album:||The Joy Of Motion|
|Release date:||March 2014|
03. Air Chrysalis
04. Another Year
05. Physical Education
06. Tooth And Claw
08. The Future That Awaited Me
09. Para Mexer
10. The Woven Web
"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.|
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