Weightless review by Animals as Leaders

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  • Released: Nov 4, 2011
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.2 (70 votes)
Animals as Leaders: Weightless
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Sound — 8
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.

Lyrics — 10
Lyrics? We don't need no stinking lyrics!

Overall Impression — 7
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.

58 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Vitor_vdp
    "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 arent pop songs and dont have to meet some 3 minute cookie cutter pop song format." Says who? Quality over quantity.
    Sam Wotrey
    Ah, Animals as Leaders. I remember falling madly in love with Tosin within 2 seconds of listening to Song of Solomon.
    sewoo55
    Tosin Abasi is god. I haven't listened to this yet but i know its going to be stellar.
    Ranmanguitar
    I'm going to see Animals as Leaders and Between The Buried and Me early next month. $22.00 ticket. Sounds like a good time to me. Looking forward to the new material.
    bokma
    Faaaaar from topping the debut though. I'm actually alittle disappointed. The album was good but it horribly lacked the kind of memorable moments that were on the debut. I just seemed to have more technicality and less soul.
    pol315
    I was actually sorely disappointed with this album. The first one was absolutely great, but this one felt really forced and more nonsensical then I would have liked. "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 arent pop songs and dont have to meet some 3 minute cookie cutter pop song format." By saying that they should be longer aren't you creating a cookie cutter of your own? Like the person above me, quality over quantity. There is no set requirements for music to be music.
    corrda00
    I wish they had have gotten a bass for this album, even just on the recording. It kinda disturbs me as a bassist to see the bass get replaced by lower and lower guitars. It feels sometimes like we might become a lost cause like keyboard players.
    kschaef
    I thought this album was pretty boring, honestly. Nowhere near as good as the first, although I didn't think the first was an absolute work of art like a lot of people did. Regardless, I respect Tosin and his talents immensely.
    adj209
    Lacks Misha's production, but still good, I appreciate the experimental approach
    ColdHeartedHero
    I dont get why people keep saying theyve moved away from the djent sound? the first album was kind of airy. this album is SO much heavier and thicker ?? There are way more polyrhythmic djent sections? is it just me who thinks this? this album is much heavier, its a band effort, not one man, so theres going to be more rhythmic and lead distinction. It kind of takes away from the integrity and expression . the first album was one guy who played all of the parts, he didnt have to worry about being TOO in the spotlight. this is a great record . idk about saying ones better than the other though, and im ranting now,woops
    Night_Lights
    first album wasn't an instant hit with me. This one however is much better. It doesn't try to impress nearly as much, songs flow a lot better. Fav track Odessa
    Ultraturtle0
    You claim that a few songs shouldn't have to meet a "cookie-cutter pop" format, then demand that your instrumentals be long enough for you to "zone out". People don't dedicate their entire lives to the development of their craft for you to zone out to. Listen to music actively, and maybe those two-and-a-half minute tracks would satiate you. >.>
    Jon777
    Less djenty than the previous release, eh? I can dig it. Gonna check this out ASAP.
    lefty311
    I didn't think the drums were programmed on the first album... They initially were, but I read somewhere that they took out the programmed drums for the real drums.
    troyofyort
    also since this albums sounds pretty different, not everybody who liked the first one will like this...regardless of that everybody should agree tosins a freaking beast on the guitar!
    gent2590
    Martis93 wrote: How the hell did I not know it was out? Absolutely loved the 1st one. Will listen to this one ASAP. But really, the band should atleast have a webpage, to keep the fans informed. I didn't even know an album was coming.
    facebook.com/animalsasleaders
    daltonsuter666
    me too dude
    Sam Wotrey wrote: Ah, Animals as Leaders. I remember falling madly in love with Tosin within 2 seconds of listening to Song of Solomon.
    Shawskee
    I find it funny how the critic slams them for having the shorter songs, then says New Eden (which is only about 20 seconds longer) is one of the few stand out songs.
    Disturbed_EMG
    I've really enjoyed the snippets of this that I've heard, really need to listen to the rest of it.
    mjosephw52
    corrda00 wrote: I wish they had have gotten a bass for this album, even just on the recording. It kinda disturbs me as a bassist to see the bass get replaced by lower and lower guitars. It feels sometimes like we might become a lost cause like keyboard players.
    I will always appreciate a nice bass line played by an actual bass.
    Cannibal Koala
    I was disappointed by some of the songs, but the riffs were sweet, and the album kept my interest throughout. 7/10 from me guys.
    bloodlustx36
    I prefer the production on this record a thousand times more than the previous one (specially since he stopped using line 6 pods), also, it's kind of funny that the favorite songs you picked are the ones i didn't like, i liked more An Infinite Regression, Odessa, Isolated Incidents, Cylindrical Sea. So I pretty much enjoyed a lot more this new record than the previous one.
    guitaristren
    The skills of Tosin Abasi never cease to amaze me. This album was pretty good. Although, it seems to have a much more heavy approach compared to the serene jazzy sound of the first one.
    troyofyort
    Oujou wrote: I liked Animals as Leaders because it had the best production on a shred album I'd ever heard. As long as it sounds as nice as the debut, I'm fine.
    Trust me the production on this one is so much nicer. Also I love the direction they took its so interesting, they didn't take the lazy route and just do a rehash of the first album.
    EpiExplorer
    m4ss3 m/ wrote: adj209 wrote: Lacks Misha's production, but still good, I appreciate the experimental approach Haha, I'm pretty sure Misha was the only reason the debut album was so awesome. ;P
    Oh come off it, Tosin could make a legacy as the 8 string Steve Vai in an instant while Misha scurries around in the Camden Underworld for eternity. Great album, although Uneven Structure's 'Februus' is a much more 'out there' musical experience.
    a drummer
    Better than the first IMO. This record is Animals as Leaders, all 3 members contributing. The first record was all Tosin with programmed drums done by Misha. This record feels so much more natural.
    Jawkster
    it's not bad, some of the songs have that kinda electronic sound which is different i guess. still prefer self titled, that was awesome. still, i guess the drums and bass sound better.
    Oujou
    I liked Animals as Leaders because it had the best production on a shred album I'd ever heard. As long as it sounds as nice as the debut, I'm fine.
    RockyTheWocky
    The person who wrote this review is pretty ignorant. The drums in Weightless ARE programmed. Navene Koperweis recorded drums using a Yamaha electronic kit, which is routed in Superior drummer 2.0 to get the great drum sounds this album has. Anyways this album is amazing, I love An infinite Regression (and can play it!), New Eden, Earth Departure, Weightless, Espera and David. If only Javiers solo was on it I'd give it a 10/0 !
    Andrew C. S.
    This album had a much more organic feel than the self-titled and showcased a lot more ability. That being said, I still prefer the self-titled. I feel that it progresses a lot better and the guitar playing has more personality. I think we have to keep in mind that Weightless is AAL's first album as a full, legit band. The self-titled was all Tosin and Misha. It's safe to say that the next album will be better than this one since Tosin, Navene and Javier will be able to develop their chemistry.
    hellfire69
    The title "Weightless" seems like a sadly ironic description of the new album. Even with featuring more prominently distorted guitars the heaviness of this band seemed somewhat lost in the mismatch of "djent" and expirimental electro/dance elements that seemed a more refined feature on their previous efforts. Strangely, I can't help but feel the exact same way about this and Born of Osiris. Both bands released and incredible debut that was just low production hard hitting songs that keep the great riffs coming. Now it's like they substituted the soul of their music for production value, nothing is as catchy.
    zacharykt338
    AMAZING album! I wouldnt necessarily call it better than the first album, but definitely a different musical direction. Tosin Abasi is probably one of the greatest, most creative, progressive metal guitarists right now. Technicality and melody \m/
    Ginsu
    I liked the old album better. This one was still super-good...but the old one, in my eyes, is unsurpassable.
    mark3777
    just saw them last night with BTBAM and tesseract. Awesome show. Animals as leaders played a few new songs and it was good to see more from the other bandmates on new songs. Tosin is crazy good.
    super_strat
    lefty311 wrote: I didn't think the drums were programmed on the first album... They initially were, but I read somewhere that they took out the programmed drums for the real drums.
    they were programmed on the first album
    RiveraShreds
    Great album! My favorite tracks are "Don't go gently" and "Somnarium". A lot of electronic stuff on the album but that's fine, some of it's really cool. All of the tracks are amazing, though there's not as many classics as the self titled album.
    Rimjob4acowboy
    On the first listen this album just sounded more of the same, but i like it just as much as the first now
    Shawskee
    I found this album challenging on the first listen. It doesn't have many memorable moments and sometimes it feels just like a technical mess. But I think with a few more listens It'll grow on me, as most technical albums like this do. Tosin and the guys are still extremely talented. All they need is a bassist...
    Martis93
    How the hell did I not know it was out? Absolutely loved the 1st one. Will listen to this one ASAP. But really, the band should atleast have a webpage, to keep the fans informed. I didn't even know an album was coming.
    mxrblind
    bokma wrote: Faaaaar from topping the debut though. I'm actually a little disappointed. The album was good but it horribly lacked the kind of memorable moments that were on the debut. I just seemed to have more technicality and less soul.
    Totally agree. Better production quality though
    touke
    I don't care how long a song is, this whole album completed my day. Hearing the first riffs from An Infinite Regression made me have to listen to the rest.
    'Leviathan'
    One of my favourite releases of the year. I've listened to Weightless extensively since it was released. A real step in the right direction for AaL.
    Botti13
    JESUS FUCK i almost forgot the album was around these days!! going to get it!