The Joy Of Motion review by Animals as Leaders

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  • Released: Mar 24, 2014
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (61 votes)
Animals as Leaders: The Joy Of Motion
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Sound — 9
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.

Lyrics — 10
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.

Overall Impression — 9
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.

40 comments sorted by best / new / date

    TheRedScare
    It's so nice to hear an artist like Tosin who is not only an amazing technical player, but so melodically inclined. I (thought) I heard several of Allan Holdsworth-esque chordal voicings. I was curious if anyone else agreed?
    Pandaphagist
    Tosin is indeed amazing, but let's not forget the work that Javier, Misha, Nolly, Matt, Navene and (I believe) a guitarist from Volumes put into making this album great.
    The Spoon
    I was a bit underwhelmed by Weightless but I liked this one right away.
    ProgFripp74
    Yeh I get you, musically it was better but it lacked a certain something, it wasn't as aggressive as their debut and it didn't have a particular stand out track, it was still a good chill listen but I found it slightly forgettable. The Joy Of Motion on the otherhand, it's just epic.
    Good_Lord
    Great album, feels more refined than their previous works, but still has that wild slightly erratic feel to it that makes AAL unique.
    shredder3386
    I've always been sort of impartial to AAL. Some of their songs I liked, some I didn't. This is the first album by them that truly floored me. Every song is amazing and unique. Ive probably listened to it 20+ times already. Woven Web might actually be one of my favorite instrumental tracks ever.
    Mahoru
    I totally agree, I'm on the same boat as you. From a technical point of view they've always been amazing, but musically it's a whole different thing. The self-titled had some pretty good moments, but I didn't find much cohesion on the songwriting, and didn't like the production at all. Weightless improved the sound, but on the other hand lost all the interest the first one had song-wise. This one, though... they've totally won me over this time, I don't have a single complaint about it! What an amazing piece of work!
    Redfinton22
    Nice review! I just gotta point out though - there's definitely bass guitar on this record (Nolly played on a few tracks himself and the rest of them have some kind of programmed bass)
    iammclovin
    I've easily listened to this album in its entirety over 20 times. There's just something about this album that puts it above every other instrumental album I've heard. Amazing work by Tosin, Javier, and Matt!!
    triface
    I really like this album. I won't say it's better, but I just find it more to my taste as compared to Weightless. Weightless felt a little too heavy for the sake of being heavy to me. It sounds like Tosin is trying to find a balance between being heavy and being simple and easy on the ears. I find this the most prominent in Lippincott, Another Year and Physical Education.
    vppark2
    How the heck did the reviewer manage to get away with having less than 500 characters in the lyrics section?
    MikeBTE
    How the f**k does the drummer follow that super funky amazing riff on the woven web. This album is amazing.
    FlyingPirahna
    Good to see this album getting a little more love on here. Most of the people I know have been disappointed by it, but I really enjoy it. AAL is the tits.
    Random9000
    Maybe I'm just in the mood per say for AAL right now, but the new album I won't say is a disappointment. What I will say is that it just hasn't hit me the same way the first album did. It almost feels to me that it has become predictable. That was something I loved about the first two albums was that they were unpredictable. It's guess it's hard to keep people surprised after 3 albums.
    Jimjambanx
    I actually preferred Weightless over this one, I liked the jazziness of it, this one to me is more like their first album, but not quite as good. Still a great album though.
    I_Fij
    I'm not sure if it's just the "new shit is never as good as old shit" complex, but this album was a little disappointing to me, particularly after Weightless. You can *definitely* hear the influence of Misha and Nolly over the album: the overall mix of the album feels harsher and more sterile -- more mid-foused than their old stuff. It lacks the warm,round, organic feel of the guitars from the previous albums. That and while there are definitely moments that sound like old AAL, the hyper-complex, intelligent sounding rhythms seem to have been pared way back in this album. I hate to say it, but the allegations of this album being pretty "sumerian-core" seem like they weren't too far off.
    ewolf5150
    this album to me, is leaps and bounds better than the borefest that was weightless. the first album is still the best, but i never could get into weightless, the songs just weren't there. my reasoning is that the 1st album was all tosin, then they started writing together as a band for weightless and it changed the sound too much. joy of motion has taken them back in the right direction for me. btw SCALE THE SUMMIT > AAL
    joewgarcia
    actually the first album was all tosin and misha.
    ewolf5150
    i know, but tosin was obviously the driver of that bus
    Alex011
    ohohohohohoho wrong, I think Weightless makes it pretty clear how much of a collaboration the first album was, and by that I mean it was pretty even. Weightless was pretty much all Tosin, sure Javier was there but as he said, The Joy of Motion is the first album in which his input's really there.
    Somnarium
    Ok, I'm sick of this shit. How can you like AAL and NOT like Weightless? What is so horrifically wrong with that album? Jesus, it's a trip from start to finish. It has Somnarium, my all-time favorite AAL song. It's pure innovation, class, metal, and God, I don't know what else you could possibly demand from an album. What song exactly is a bor-efest to you? And I want you to give me the exact time in the song because there's literally nothing here that's uninteresting. Seriously. I mean, I don't know much about jazz music, all I know is from ALL and STS, and I know that's one of the big reasons why people don't like the album. Well, you know what? If you're a guitarist and don't like jazz elements in a prog metal band then you're kind of missing the point here. IT'S ABOUT PROGRESSION.
    Alex011
    Wightless is pretty much what Tosin is all about as a composer, barring some tracks of The Joy of Motion, it is safe to say Weightless is AAL's most representative album, considering the involvement of 3rd parties to be practically nonexistent.
    I_Fij
    I dunno, Cylindrical Sea is my favorite AAL track (except maaaaybe CAFO, but then CAFO's a little predictable), and Odessa, an Infinite Regress and Do Not Go Gently are super interesting too rhythmically and tonally speaking.
    Chronologo
    What an amazing album, the production and the mixing is way better and the music pieces are state of art.
    sewoo55
    Much better than Weightless. Weightless sounded a bit incoherent and sometimes bordered on just wankery imo.....
    itsthisguyneil
    I thought the screaming was too much, but I love the high notes he hit on track 3, what a vocal range!
    Dnouw
    Can I smoke some of your crack rock please?
    takeabow444
    Favorite track on the album is Another Year, that is the only one I could see NOT being on any of the previous albums. Otherwise this album is basically Weightless Pt. 2. Not that that's bad, just an observation. Also, enough with the f'ing electronics, it would be so nice to hear an album exclusively made of their playing.
    Silver Blues
    I like the album a lot. I wasn't bothered at all by the 'un-metal' bits. Great work by the guys again. People bash on Weightless a lot, and I really didn't think it was that bad. That being said, TJoM is not the same kind of album, either.
    joewgarcia
    I love this album, I have a couple of problems with this review. nothing personal just some things i find unusual about it. first of all, there shouldnt be a rating of lyrics on an album that doesnt have lyrics. the rating is irrelevant therefore it should not be included in the averaging of ratings for the overall rating. your rating for the lyrics actually made the overall rating higher, which doesnt make any sense. "yeah the new animals as leaders record was great but what really did it for me was the lyrics." second, "overall impression" is redundant. when you review an album you review the entire album. an album review IS an overall impression. including an overall impression, is redundant. okay as far as opinion goes, i dont think this band needs a bass player. the 8-string guitar has enormous range and covers most of the notes a bass would. also i think there is some bass on this album, but when you see them live, there are plenty of low tones flying around the room, i feel a bass would mud it up. (i recently saw them with after the burial who has a bass player and they sounded super "bassy" and i really couldnt hear the guitars very well) and i think i understand what you mean when you say that aal and periphery helped create a genre in djent, but it kind of seems like you are naming them as the ones who started it. when in fact, Meshuggah is well known as the fathers of djent, but im sure you knew that, it's just that the sentence in the beginning might throw off some people who dont know that. AAL and Periphery are simply making it more popular among the younger crowd. (this next paragraph is not for the writer) most fans of animals as leaders know that there are plenty of "un-metal" songs to be had. their self titled album has plenty of songs like that, such as (most of) On Impulse, Tessitura, Modern Meat, and I would even consider Point to Point in that category, even though theres a lot of metal in that song. Granted, Weightless is heavier overall, but i get what your saying, some fans (people that only heard weightless or CAFO) might be disappointed by the un-metal songs. to all those people: IF YOU ARE DISAPPOINTED BY THE UN-METAL SONGS YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT. other than that stuff, i agree with the core review. the songs you pegged as your favorites, are also my favorites, dude, mind-spun, for reals. dat hook tho. anyway, i would also give this album a 9.3 overall, but because of these reasons: Song Structures: 9 - Too many fade outs, I have a personal issue with fade outs. give me outros. Also, some of the outros are a bit short lived. other than that, the songs have the right amount of repetition and go through the motions you would expect from animals as leaders. Recording Quality/Mix: 10 - Everything on this album sounds the way it should Length: 9 - Good length overall but some of the songs left me wanting more. Isn't that a good thing, though? It keeps me coming back. those three categories are what i look for in an album, especially an instrumental one. i might add lyrics for a band with a singer, but the singing goes with the structure, as it is a part of the music. i dont know man, think about it. weird.
    BoneBroke
    In order for the average to not be affected the lyrics must be rated a 10.
    mattjamesrenn
    I have listened to this album about 6 times and have decided not to abuse it anymore before I buy.