Sound: Animals As Leaders, previously thought of as a strong member of the Djent movement, has found new direction in their individual style of progressive instrumental metal which combines lightning fast riffs on eight string guitars, jazz fusion stylings and electronica. Their second album, "Weightless", shows they have grown as a band in both songwriting and style. There is not much in the way of low percussive chugging and such, but instead a special effort seems to have been made to avoid chugging and super low riffing. The end result is very impressive and worth a listen. Since Tosin Abasi released his debut in 2009 he has grown his group to include members Navene Koperweis (drums) and Javier Reyes (on eight string guitar just like Tosin). The addition of another guitarist and a real drummer has done much for the overall sound.
"Weightless" is being released by Prosthetic Records, who also released their 2009 debut. There are 12 tracks on the album and in total it clocks in at just over forty-six minutes. This comes in as a very respectable length for an album, though I actually prefer a 60 minute minimum on instrumental albums. When I listen to instrumental albums I like to lay back and chill out for the hour or so it plays and really absorb it, and "Weightless" comes off as just a shade too short. I was especially concerned by "David" and "Espera" as neither song is even two and a half minutes long. Instrumental tracks should be longer because they aren't pop songs and don't have to meet some 3 minute cookie cutter pop song format. Instrumental music even technically complex instrumental music should be long enough to allow you to zone out/space out while listening to it. // 8
Lyrics: Lyrics? We don't need no stinking lyrics! // 10
Overall Impression: My favorite tracks off of the album would have to be "Somnarium", "Weightless" and "New Eden". The track "New Eden" actually vaguely reminds me of Steve Vai. There weren't really any songs that I didn't like on the album, though the three named before stand out a whole lot from the rest to me. "Do Not Go Gently" is also a very strong track on the album. While I really enjoyed the self-titled debut from Animals As Leaders, I believe that "Weightless" is a step above in every way. The music is more interesting, and though it has moved away from the Djent sound to an extent it does still have a slight twist of Djent which sits nicely in the context it is used. What I truly love about this album is that it manages to maintain its musicality along with the highly technical fast shred passages. In my opinion, only a few artists are capable of shredding without sacrificing their musicality, but this is something that Tosin Abasi has obviously mastered. Tosin recognizes the time for shredding and the time to slow down to express his sonic ideas and it makes a world of difference. // 7
- Brandon East (c) 2011