Sound — 9
The most accurate phrase that would describe my reaction upon hearing Animals As Leaders' music for the first time would be "awestruck". I'd never heard anything so complex, so powerful, so unique and so enjoyable. The effect this album has on me has barely diminished from the first time I listened to it to the last with every song having much to offer. From what I understand, the guitarist, Tosin Abasi wrote all the material on the album himself with Periphery guitarist Misha Mansoor contributing with some amazing sounding programmed drums (A drummer friend of mine and fellow fan wasn't even aware that the drums on this album were programmed until I told his ass). The guitar work on this album is full on, in your face technical, utilizing many techniques from sweeping to slapping to two hand tapping. Every song is instrumental of course so the guitar has the spotlight. The rhythm guitar mainly consists of 8 stringed guitar chugs and chords, often keeping in time with the complex polyrhythms and polymeters of the drums which complement the constantly dazzling leads and then some. This album is not short on solo's with my favourite appearing on the song "Cafo". To say that this guy can shred is an understatement. The lead work is often fast and furious but never descends into generic scale runs, instead opting for unconventional sweeping and string skipping patterns. I'd say that Tosin Abasi's guitar work is truly unique. Another thing that stands out on every single song is the time signature changes. They change furiously and unrelentingly but always work, never feeling forced, from the 13/16 breakdown near the end of Inamorata to the 9/4 sweeptastic intro on "Cafo". Polyrhythms are also a huge factor in the music which in my book is a big plus. As mentioned before, the drumming here sounds very authentic. Mansoor did an amazing job. There are many intricacies to be found and the complex and often somewhat groovy patterns and beats are a joy to listen to and tap ones foot to. Oh god how one does tap ones foot to these rhythms.
Lyrics — 10
There are no lyrics to be found in. This. Album. Good day sir.
Overall Impression — 9
I have since heard other bands and artists that sound similar to AAL but none have made much of a mark on me. The album is such a force. Every song has something to offer from furiously technical metal songs to free time acoustic jazz pieces. I want to have something negative to say so that I'm not accused of being a fanboy but there is nothing about this album that I do not like. It changed the way I listen to and write music which is quite something. A few of my favourite songs are "Soraya", "The Price Of Everything And The Value Of Nothing" and "Cafo". That concludes the review. Thanks you for reading.