I don’t think anyone was as pumped for the new ANIMALS AS LEADERS release as me. The Joy of Motion (Out March 25 via Sumerian Records) is the progressive trio’s third album, and will certainly not disappoint long term fans (like myself). I can see this effort garnering new fans for them as well. Instrumental metal fans, rejoice. The Joy of Motion is fantastic.
“Ka$cade” kicks off the album with a small intro of bright, glistening guitar before bursting into a very swift, percussive buzz saw of notes. That feel carries throughout the song, adding new hints of melody at each corner; while even dashing in some electronic elements. You certainly get a dose of dreamy guitars and heavy groove in this one, particularly from the halfway point to the finish of this number. This and “Lippincott” sit next to each other in the album sequence very well. As the final measures of low-tuned groove in “Ka$cade” end, “Lippincott” has quiet intro for just a few moments before the sporadic, harmonious dual guitar attack from Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes enters. These unique sounds continue for the duration, paired with the heavy, distorted, low-tuned grooves that ANIMALS AS LEADERS are so well known for. “Another Year” is a jazz inspired composition and one of my favorites on the album. I find this track to be relaxing and mind clearing. It is sure to be a choice track when chilling on my balcony this summer.
“Physical Education” was a song that completely blew me away during my first listen. Hearing Tosin playing his 8-string guitar like a slap bass was incredible sonic perfection. The rhythms and grooves created are unique and funky, while the lead is absolutely infectious. “Tooth and Claw” was the first new track debuted by the band and the name says it all. It is one of the heaviest songs on the LP, in both a rhythmic and a shredding sense. “Crescent” highlights more of that great slap guitar and soaring solos. The slapped sections include alternately timed patterns, creating an unpredictable listen. Some of my favorite jazz oriented playing on the record is featured in this song. It is a complex, well written display. Once again, bravo to these three masterminds. “The Future That Awaited Me,” is another dreamy one. Clean guitars are featured throughout most of it, with a brief moment of an ever so slightly higher gain solo. I found it freeing and relaxing. “Para Mexer” also falls into that same category. From start to finish, it is 4:30 of unbelievable acoustic guitar playing. These two fit together perfectly and you will find your troubles drifting away when tuned into them. If you’re stressed, I recommend taking the nine minutes out of your day to unwind with these songs.
“The Woven Web” fades in with an eerie fashion before kicking into a fast-paced, clean tone guitar section. You can hear more of that slap guitar technique on this as well. A slap bass inspired solo piece occurs shortly before the halfway mark in the song, which is definitely worth listening to! “Mind-Spun” is another heavy hitting number, as it is fast paced and features more growl from the low-tuned, distorted guitars of Tosin and Javier. The duo play things in such perfect unison at times, it’s as if they are connected. Now, I know to this point I have highly sung the praises of Tosin and Javier, but I want to take a moment to say how fantastic Matt Garstka’s drum performance is on this record. The Joy of Motion is the first album he has recorded drums for ANIMALS AS LEADERS and the man has completely knocked it out of the park. The rhythms he helps piece together and off-time signatures he keeps in balance are a work of art that is demonstrated in all 12 tracks.
The final song, “Nephele,” crescendos with a wall of low-tuned, distorted guitar, then immediately kicks into a chugging, percussive riff. This is definitely the heavy exclamation point on the statement that is The Joy of Motion. One of my favorite guitar solos on the album starts at 50 seconds in and is a dominating arrangement of shred. At the 3:43 mark, and start of the outro segment, you hear what are some of the most progressive and mind bending sounds on the record. This song, and the album, is such a great way to leave listeners in awe and wondering what they’ve just experienced. I know that I experienced is ANIMALS AS LEADERS best album. The third time really is the charm, and these guys just get better and better with every album. Great work, gentlemen.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Another Year”, “Physical Education”, “Crescent”, “Para Mexer”, “Nephele”
WRITTEN BY ERIC THE BULL