Animals As Leaders review by Animals as Leaders

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  • Released: Apr 28, 2009
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.8 (206 votes)
Animals as Leaders: Animals As Leaders

Sound — 9
You may not have heard of Tosin Abasi yet, but in a few years the guitarist is likely to be listed in a long line of virtuosos. While Abasi started to gain a name for himself during his time in Washington D.C.'s Reflux, that particular metalcore band quietly decided to take an indefinite hiatus and provided the guitarist with an opportunity to explore other musical outlets. His latest project is called Animals As Leaders, and although Abasi pretty much wrote all of the music and played most of the instruments, you'll find it to be a full-fledged band on the road. If you were familiar with Reflux, you're in for a bit of a shock. Animals As Leaders' self-titled record only briefly delves into metal and instead dabbles in everything from progressive rock to jazz and even a little electronica. That description might sound a little manic, but the stylistic changes heard on the album usually become secondary to the amazing musicianship that is displayed by Abasi. Using both 7 and 8-string guitars, Abasi creates a variety of soundscapes and textures with his instruments, and you almost wish there were accompanying YouTube clips showing just exactly how he executed each song. From the opening seconds of the first track Temping Time, which features a digital, industrial-type beat, you can tell that Abasi is slightly enamored with the world of electronica. He wisely never lets that element overtake what is obviously the main showcase: his guitar wizardry (a term he proudly uses on the band's MySpace page). That opening number is as grand as it gets, with a series of amazing sweeps, chugging rhythms, and Rush-like progressive qualities. Let's just say there is never a dull moment. There are certain jazz-like moments within the album, but Abasi loves to mish mesh the usual format with something more modern and adventurous. While the one-minute long Tessitura remains fairly traditional and sedate, The Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing takes you on a pretty wild journey with rich jazz chords, computerized beats, and cyclical scales. The latter track also features massive walls of sound in certain sections, then in the next second will strip down things to almost one or two instruments. Even in the quietest moments, you can sense that the picking technique must be insanely difficult. Abasi certainly hasn't forgotten his metal roots, and you'll find what can only be described as downright shredding in CAFO and the opening track Tempting Time. Unusual rhythmic choices are scattered throughout the record, and those pop up more often than not thanks to manic computerized beats that are laid down against the guitar tracking. Another great listen is Behaving Badly, which features similar rhythmic patterns that are somewhat akin to Tool's material.

Lyrics — 10
Animals As Leaders' debut record is solely instrumental.

Overall Impression — 10
It's hard to not be astounded by some of the sounds that Tosin Abasi creates with his instruments, and it's probably wise that he did venture out into solo territory (or at least somewhat solo) following his work with Reflux. Animals As Leaders is extremely hard to categorize, but that's to Abasi's credit. You'll find elements of progressive, metal, jazz, and even ambient/new age on the debut album often times all in the course of one song. That may mean an exhausting listen for some, but for all of the guitar enthusiasts out there, you'll be picking your jaw off of the ground.

58 comments sorted by best / new / date

    devilex121 wrote: sounds good!! something like tool eh? this SHOULD be good!!
    ...Nothing like Tool. Amazing album.
    Downloaded this album because of this review, and I am floored. I'll be buying this tonight. I'd recommend doing the same; you will not be disappointed.
    DUDE =O Tosin was my teacher for a while! Holy hell! He moved back to Sweden for a while... I didn't know he was back in the States! I'll be sure to check this out
    This album is positively fantastic. I've probably listened to it 9 or 10 times already, and it gets better with every listen. Tosin is an incredible musician.
    Amuro Jay
    poorik wrote: if you donnt like tosin abasi you have to be a die hard racist because this is a great young muscian
    Or you may just not like the music. Either way, this is one hell of a CD. Pretty amazing, if you ask me.
    btbamaddict wrote: A true virtuoso. Def getting an 8 string because of this
    +1 Well I'm atleast gonna grab a seven but I definitely want an 8 in the near future just because of him. Also you guys don't know how to spell. His name is Tosin Abadass.
    I've had this album for a now, it's pretty intense. I love 58 seconds in of 'Behaving Badly'
    is this anything like an endless sporadic? sounds like an amazing listen... deff gonna check it out
    wow i didn't know this was coming out already... i've been waiting for this for quite a while. tosin is a very very unique and talented player, cannot wait to see what this album has to offer.
    if you donnt like tosin abasi you have to be a die hard racist because this is a great young muscian
    All Good Gonz
    oh man i love this guy, i first met him like 2 years back because i was friends with his room mate Javier who is now the other guitarist for this band, theyre both really cool, tosin was just sitting in the corner playing an 8 string guitar casually but it was like nothing id ever heard before
    devilex121 wrote: sounds good!! something like tool eh? this SHOULD be good!!
    [quote]devilex121 No, nothing like Tool at all lol. Some of his odd guitar work is similar to Tool's but it's more like Steve Vai combined with Scale the Summit combined with Periphery, combined with random deathcore, jazz, and industrial bands.
    Amazing. Album of the year by light years. I saw them live, and christ, he was sooooo clean it was ridiculous.
    my bands opening for animals as leaders and veil of maya in a week, im so frreekin psyched. my friend's seen em live, he says their incredibly tight, especially considering how hard it is to execute this live.
    Shredder Guitar
    if anyone is wondering, yes they are flawless live. Tosin is also the nicest guy you could probably ever meet as well. =D
    Born of osiris actually has a lot of interesting guitar work on their new album A higher Place. I dont think Tosin Abasi wrote any of the stuff on the album but I think he's doin live shows with them and might become permanent. In my opinion if he joined BoO then they would blow Reflux out of the water. The vocalist from Reflux had a pretty bad voice and it kind of made the music hard to listen to. But either way this album is beautiful in every sense of the word. I one day aspire to get an 8 string guitar and make some brilliant music alongside the Abasinator
    I am a guy who almost literally gets high on music. For a druggie, this music is like taking multiple drugs at once. I was blown away with a feeling music's never given me before. This is some of the best music i've ever heard! most who read this are like "wtf is this guy talkin about." But those who know how I felt know what i'm talking about. IT IS AMAZING!!!
    is he really in born of osiris? cant wait to get them to europe then =) this album is an amazing piece of progressive music. ive always liked bands like the faceless, after the burial or BoS, but this is simply better than everything else.
    i suggest everyone take a note from this cat. he uses his arsenal of off-time signatures,weird accents and chord progessions to **** your brain. study his music. and for god sake, no one mentioned his drummer? who is incredible. just saying.
    jetfuel495 wrote: poorik wrote: if you donnt like tosin abasi you have to be a die hard racist because this is a great young muscian Or you may just not like the music. Either way, this is one hell of a CD. Pretty amazing, if you ask me.
    it was probably just a joke-but even at the risk of getting chastised myself you would have to be STUPID not to like this album!!!! hahaha
    i discovered this a couple of months back and have been listening to it over and over since. by far my favorite band along with periphery/bulb. currently learning "on impulse" but the first part of the solo is as hard as f**k. i also so badly want an rga8! according to facebook a new album is soon to come, can't wait!
    BoO are shit he just fills in. I hope to god he doesnt join. Reflux were much better than BoO. If he joins for good... he better kick them all out and add Javier Reyes on guitar. and no vocalsit... basically AAL2
    makefunoflucky wrote: I've been following tosin for a long time, since his metalcore days haha. This release is awesome.
    Well, hes in the metalcore/death band Born of Osiris so it looks like he back in with that genre again. At many times this album reminds me of Buckethead material. Some wicked music here.
    JD Red LP
    I've been waiting so long for this album. It's a must-have for every guitarist.
    When I first heard Tempting Time I thought this album would be lame, but track 2 completely changed that state of mind. Godly work.
    gah, i want to hear some but every fricken social networking site is blocked at work!
    I found this guy through Periphery/Bulb, they are quite similar to him, if you like his stuff I strongly suggest you check them out. Wicked tunes
    I've been following tosin for a long time, since his metalcore days haha. This release is awesome.
    listened to about half of the cd so far. pretty good. hoping second half is better though.