The Madness Of Many review by Animals as Leaders

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  • Released: Nov 11, 2016
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8 (34 votes)
Animals as Leaders: The Madness Of Many

Sound — 9
Originally opposed to indulging a solo career on the account of seeing the endeavor too egotistical, Tosin Abasi became the next guitar virtuoso to watch when he started his solo prog metal project Animals As Leaders. With his debut self-titled album being built mostly by his own guitar and bass playing (with some assistance by Periphery's Misha Mansoor), Abasi soon turned the project into an ensemble by recruiting the formidable Javier Reyes as a second guitar player, and Navene Koperweis to play drums. The group's follow-up album, 2011's "Weightless," as a result, benefitted from this extra manpower.

In 2014's "The Joy of Motion," AAL acquired new drummer Matt Garstka and featured Periphery members Adam Getgood and Misha Mansoor as guest bassists, and compositionally, the band started to step away from the chiptune/IDM-inspired production value of their previous albums, as well as make room for different genre flavors and strengths next to their base djent/prog metal style. Now on their fourth album, "The Madness of Many," AAL continue to move from the characteristics of their earlier albums to try new things. Further venturing away from the lavish electronica layers, synthesizer elements are sparse but more straightforward, like the modular synth throbbing in "Ectogenesis" and the Dream Theater-esque keyboard riff in "Cognitive Contortions" that lead the way for Tobasi and Reyes to follow with their guitars. Tobasi continues to showcase some jazz fusion moments like in "The Joy of Motion," but also stretches in new sonic directions, with the sitar melody giving the opening "Arithmophobia" an ornate vibe, and the closer of "Apeirophobia" wielding a neoclassical flair by way of frenetic fingerpicking acoustic guitars.

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Most noticeably, however, is Tobasi's reservation in his guitar solos that used to be the scene-stealers in earlier albums. With some standout soloing action in "Transcentience" and "The Brain Dance," Tobasi's songwriting in "The Madness of Many" emphasizes the value of its rhythms more so, with his lead guitarwork being more a melody carrier than shredding relentlessness. Still showing off his penchant for rapid slap/thump riffs in the smooth "Private Visions of the World" and the speedier "Inner Assassins" (which also transposes its main thump riff upwards for a dash of thrash influence), Tobasi and Reyes' rhythm riffing sticks out more when it breaks away from a constant flow and works in bursts, heard in the techy stop-and-start riff in "Cognitive Contortions," the messy djent/scratches of "Backpfeifengesicht," and the fluctuating rhythms in "The Glass Bridge" and "The Brain Dance."

Lyrics — 9
[There are no lyrics in this album.]

Overall Impression — 9
Having already proven himself to be a remarkable guitar player in earlier albums, Abasi's songwriting in AAL's "The Madness of Many" smartly emphasizes other aspects rather than being another album consisting of him trying to bury the listener in guitar solos. With more of an emphasis in its rhythmic elements, trying out different sounds and styles, and expanding further from a standard prog metal heaviness by shifting into lower sonic gears, the nuances of "The Madness of Many" helps the album keep from sounding like AAL's previous albums while still sticking to their prog metal specialty.

27 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This album is closer to Pat Metheny than it is to all the Djent stuff, and I mean it in the best way possible. It's less about speed and heaviness and more about the atmosphere of the songs, and it really stands out from their previous work.
    I feel the opposite way. What made AAL so good and unique was their ability to use melodies and atmospheric elements so well. I felt mislead by Brain Dance and this album ended up being Physical Education - the album (one of my least favorite songs from TJOM).
    As much as I love this album, and as much as I agree about Physical Education being one of their worst songs, I'd be lying if I said this album wasn't Physical Education The album. There's like a solid 6 songs on here that just sound like a better version of Physical Education.
    What is it you dont like about P.E.?
    I don't not like it per say, it's just not up to their usual level of quality imo. The melody dosent really do anything for me like alot of their melodies do.
    Lyrics: [There are no lyrics in this album.] // 9 Erh, okay, whatever, I loved the album so I'm not complaining.
    i really like their new album, For not having a bass on any of it those 8 string guitars make it bassy as hell and the rhythms are fucking tight as can be. this is cutting edge, and anybody who says its a boring shred fest with no soul is probably just in denial about their extreme jealousy of this bands talent.
    I need more listens but none of the tracks really jump out at me. maybe it just takes time but a lot of them seem to blend together. I found the last 3 albums worth of tracks all had unique sounding songs with distinct parts. Ill just keep listening!
    Haha I wonder where he got "Backpfeifengesicht" from.
    It actually means "a face that needs to be slapped". I'm wondering if he was just hanging around some German people and heard the term and thought it was cool. It's certainly not the only song that he's written that has an interesting name.
    I know what it means, that's why I was wondering I laughed out loud a bit when I read the track list.