Released: Mar 24, 2014
Genre: Progressive Metal, Jazz Fusion, Instrumental Metal, Djent
Label: Sumerian Records
Number Of Tracks: 12
The third album by the band, it ups the ante on what to expect from Animals As Leaders in the future and definitely gives that instrumental music fix we all needed.
The Joy Of MotionFeatured review by: UG Team, on april 01, 2014 3 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: Animals As Leaders is the name first used for Tosin Abasi's solo project, which quickly grew into a band in and of itself, and also helped to define the sound which would become a genre - djent. The vast majority of the writing on the new album was still completed by Tosin Abasi and Misha Mansoor working together, as even though Misha isn't a member of the band he has been close with Tosin since "back in the day" and they front two of the bands most widely credited with the djent movement; Animals As Leaders and Periphery. "The Joy of Motion" is Animals As Leaders' third full length studio album, and continues the trend of completely instrumental tracks, usually with two guitar parts and drums with no bass and minimal keyboards. Navene Koperweis, previously on drums, has left the band and is currently replaced by Matt Garstka. Navene is still credited on the album as "electronic engineering," and has been touring solo as Navene K on the same circuit as Animals As Leaders. There are twelve tracks on the new album with a runtime of just under fifty-five minutes.
The album opens with the track "Ka$cade," which is a very frantic track with a lot of movement throughout the whole piece. "Lippincott" has a much more classic prog rock feel to it, and sounds like what I think ELP would sound like today if they were just coming out and were a guitar-driven vs. keyboard-driven band. "Air Chrysalis" caught my interest pretty quick, with one of my favorite lead lines from the album and a very "open" feel to the song. "Another Year" starts out sounding like something somewhere between modern jazz and modern funk, but the track builds from there and gets better and better - at any given time during the track you're hearing either fairly clean guitar or you're hearing chugging or a little of both. "Physical Education" is a trip, going from an intro that sounds like funk and from there goes across the spectrum. "Tooth and Claw" is one of the heavier tracks on the album, and immediately one of my favorite tracks. "Crescent" almost feels like techno in the beginning of the track, but has one of the coolest guitar runs going on with the particular effects on the guitar giving it that epic feel. "The Future That Awaited Me" is an odd little track, sounding maybe like some experimental jazz in the earlier parts of the track, then getting really twisted from there. You have to appreciate the complexity of what Animals as Leaders does if nothing else. "Para Mexer" has a Latin feel to it, which is pretty cool for a change of pace on the album. "The Woven Web" kind of follows that feeling musically, feeling like you're following a complex woven web of music from beginning to end of the track. "Mind-Spun" is probably one of the coolest tracks on the album to me, there is a lot of the right kind of movement on the track and it kept me entertained from beginning to end. The album closed out with the track "Nephele," which is a very groove-heavy track for an Animals As Leaders song and has a lead line that was very reminiscent of Vai to me. It does a good job closing the album. It has a nice slower passage in the middle that kind of changes gears, and it maintains that vibe for the most part even when the song gets heavier again and finally closes out. // 9
Lyrics: Well, this is an instrumental album, so what do you think? I can't give this area no rating at all, and for that reason I'll give it a rating of ten. // 10
Overall Impression: Instrumental albums are tricky, because they have to have enough movement to keep it interesting, but enough in the way of motifs or "hooks" to give you that slight feeling of familiarity in the track to keep you coming back. This album definitely had the magic touch, with enough variety from track to track to keep you engaged. What Animals As Leaders really does well is uses time, dynamics and stylistic shifts in their tracks to create some truly unique compositions. I would love to see the band find a full-time bass player in the future who could operate at the same level of craft as Tosin and Reyes. I think that potentially some fans aren't going to like that a few of these tracks are very un-metal. Hopefully, people can still enjoy the genius of what Animals As Leaders is giving us in this album. It would be crazy hard to pick my favorite songs from this album because with each listen I start thinking of this album as a "whole" instead of separate songs. I would say probably "Mind-Spun," "Ka$cade," "Physical Education," "Tooth and Claw" and "Para Mexer" as my favorites. I know that is a lot of "favorites" on an album. This is a good album. Honestly, I would have named more but my list was already getting ridiculously long. // 9
The Joy Of Motion
Seb1uk, on april 03, 2014 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The third full-length release from the progressive metal giants, Animals as Leaders (AAL), is an impressive but sloppily crafted piece of work. Weightless, their 2011 effort was a disappointment for me as a lot of the melodies and chord sequences were a bit too peculiar, so I was pleased to find that the trio had found a balanced blend of both releases - incorporating the easier to digest melodies and more metal approach from the self-titled, with the djent-ier and rather quirky Weightless.
There is so much diversity on the album that each and every song becomes memorable, however not always for the right reasons. Ka$cade kicks off the album with intense and energetic riffing and is one of their strongest tracks to date. One of the key reasons for this is the consistent quality of the songwriting. I find that a lot of AAL's music has brilliantly composed parts scattered amongst largely dull sections. Take "Para Mexer," for example. The first half of this acoustic track is a masterpiece that brings Javier Reye's Latin influences to the forefront (note that I can only guess that Javier was involved here). The penultimate section, which sounds like a rather generic progressive metal song played acoustically, is where the music begins to tumble downhill. It seems like the band just couldn't keep up the quality of songwriting that preceded this section.
"Physical Education" is another piece that I find frustrating to listen to. It's filled with plenty of great moments, from the chorus (if you like) to the "floating" clean section, but just when it feels like it is reaching the climax of the piece, it cuts off and enters a groove to fade out on. Now there is nothing wrong with ending a piece on a groove, but the journey the music takes you on leads the listener to believe there is something grand at the end of it. The same issue is apparent in "Tooth and Claw." Nonetheless these are both tracks that I keep coming back to just because the highlights of each make it worthwhile.
Misha Mansoor, of Periphery, was involved in part of the songwriting and this seems to be noticeable in the finale, "Nephele." The track opens with a very Periphery-esque riff that is tasteless and dull. Not to say that I dislike Periphery, as they are one of my biggest influences. While similarly weak riffs and melodies plagued "Weightless," fortunately "The Joy of Motion" keeps them to a minimum.
There are plenty of strong tracks despite my criticism, including the jazzy "Another Year," and the classical but heavy "The Woven Web." Not to mention Matt Garstka, on his debut recording for the band, who displays an incredible show of talent on the drums throughout the entire album. Matt's work really stands out compared to the band's previous releases, with "Para Mexer" being the real showcase for him.
On the other hand, the bass is lacking and unmemorable. The bass is definitely audible in the mix, but there is no creative use of it. Perhaps this is due to the lack of room in the texture of their music or because of the lack of an actual bassist in the band.
Adam "Nolly" Getgood, again of Periphery, has done a brilliant job on the production. With more electronic components than any AAL release so far along with the rich guitar content, powerful low-pitched bass and busy percussion, it could have been absolute chaos. But the mix manages to bring clarity to every note of every voicing in the music, even during thick textured sections with low-pitched, distorted and palm-muted riffs like in "Ka$cade." // 9
Lyrics: I think the music speaks for itself. // 10
Overall Impression: AAL's first release seemed like a showcase of Tosin Abasi's ability, Weightless felt like a failed attempt to distinguish their selves, but "The Joy of Motion" displays an evolution pushing the band back in the right direction. There are weak moments spread throughout and the unresolved musical journeys can be dissatisfying, but there is just about more right than wrong in this album, and when they're doing it right, the music is incredible. That is why I will continue to replay this album for months and hopefully years to come. // 9
The Joy Of Motion
someguy3399, on may 19, 2014 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The name "Joy of Motion" really does describe the sound of this album. Animals As Leaders create an atmosphere of constant movement. The beat is always breathing from start to finish. It compliments things like driving, working out, or activity in general. Not recommended for sitting! Drums are crisp, but the bottom 8th string can get a little muddled when distorted. The mood varies from edgy to mellow throughout the CD. Songs like "The Future That Awaited Me" and "Air Chrysalis" have a very contemplative feel, as where songs like "Ka$cade" and "Crescent" have that heavy "drop E" chugging thrown in that makes you want to bang your head. It's a very diverse CD, not full on metal or jazz, but the musicianship is flawless for both drums and guitars. My only complaint is that the bottom 8th string becomes muddy at times. // 8
Lyrics: Since there are no lyrics I will talk about the lead guitar instead. Very cool, imaginative, and outside-the-box. I really think Tosin can communicate by singing through his guitar. Doesn't rely too much on shredding, but more focus on melody to grab your ear, which I think is a lost art these days. It definitely takes you to the next level! I specifically like the solos in "Another Year," "Ka$cade," "The Future That Awaited Me," "Physical Education," and "The Woven Web." I think these are examples of why Tosin is as famous a guitar player as he is. Totally inspiring! // 9
Overall Impression: This is more jazzy and less metal than their previous albums. That being said, I think the songs have a lot of variety. The opening track "Ka$cade" balances the jazz and metal really well, and so does "Physical Education," "Crescent" and "Lippincott" with the finger picking and thumb slapping. "Another Year" does a good job of joining a clean jazz guitar lick to a heavy, distorted bridge and an awesome lead. "Para Mexer," "The Woven Web," and "Nephele" have that classic AAL spacey sound. "Tooth and Claw" and "Mind-Spun" have a more raw, in-your-face sound. These songs have a nice application of artificial harmonics to give it that extra edge. I love the drop E riffs, but sometimes it is a little hard to define the notes that are being played. There is no bass guitar, but if there was, it would probably become lost sound of the 8-string guitar. Overall, not my favorite CD, but definitely worth listening to. Regardless of whether you are a musician who can appreciate the technicality of it, or a fan just trying to find a good jazz/rock album, give it a try! // 7