REVIEW: ANIMALS AS LEADERS – “The Madness Of Many”
Only a handful of bands have the courage and capability to push the boundaries of music. Animals as Leaders have cemented themselves as one of the top groups to set a precedent, and may be considered as one of the best progressive bands in all of hard rock / heavy metal.
They are notorious for covering a large scope of the sonic spectrum, and their music has an unexplained quality to register on an emotional level. To think that three people can create such a sound is baffling, but it is the truth. Animals as Leaders are at their best and with this new release – ‘The Madness of Many’ – where they have even dared to go beyond.
My journey into ‘The Madness of Many’ was one of self-exploration and reflection. My emotions swayed through a landscape of complex structures and wonderful passages, all of which kept me attentive and in bliss of conflict as to what exactly was going on.
Led by guitarist Tosin Abasi, drummer Matt Garstka and guitarist Javier Reyes have written another excellent chapter in the book of progressive music .The album opens up with “Arithmophobia”, sporting an eastern-styled riff that glides over a polyrhythmic percussive party of beats, which is exactly what we need in our lives.
“Ectogenesis” offers something familiar with constant bass and drum interplay that sits on the bottom of a mean, harmonized guitar lick. Time signature changes are a constant theme, but at no point do they get jarring or seem like they’re forced. If you are reminded of Periphery, it’s because they both come from same school, and the best part is that it is in no way a competition.
Doubling up on the previous track, “Cognitive Contortions” and “Inner Assassins” continues the concept of sampled intros that meander into multiple start-stop bass patterns. Floating on top are beautiful guitar licks, haunting leads, and blisteringly ambient solos. “Private Visions of the World” evokes a warm fuzzy feeling, like it is the summer. It’s the kind of song that I would listen to while walking down a road, with dense forests on the side, sun shining bright and cars passing me by. If you have the opportunity, try it out.
In stark contrast, “Backpfeifengesicht” sounds like it would break your face-bones and shatter your skull with its sheer force and density. Having said that, it still offers some moments of contemplation, before throwing you back in the pit for some awkward uncoordinated moshing.
The best tracks for me off this wonderful piece of art are “The Glass Bridge”, “The Brain Dance” and “Apeirophobia”. They affected me emotionally. I heard them one after the other and was instantly transported to my school days, which hold a special place in my heart. Without divulging too much, these three tracks push all your worries to the back-seat and reassure you of your own potential. I felt joy, guilt, sadness, anger and regret culminating in unmatched optimism through the course of these tracks.
In short, ‘The Madness of Many’ is a landmark release as it strikes a balance between heavy-hitting riffage, ambient passages, and glorious leads, all championed by a master-class rhythm section. The time-signatures and tempo changes are mere tools to bring forth something that is unique, evocative, and wonderful. I’ve heard from people about how inaccessible progressive music sounds, and I am here to tell them that these are just excuses that your mind is building as a wall. But I will have you know, that Animals as Leaders can crush any obstacle, and will reintroduce you, to yourself.