Artist: Animals as Leaders
Album: Animals as Leaders
Release Date: April 28, 2009
Genre(s): Instrumental, prog metal
From the moment I started listening to this album, I knew it was something special. I turned on my MP3 player and found myself in one of those great, rare cases in which the music is felt more than heard. The music flowed from my headphones to the rest of my body, slowly enfolding me. Thought-provoking and enrapturing, Animals as Leaders provokes emotion within oneself as only an instrumental band can do.
Lacking any vocals, the musicians (or musician, in this case) have to work hard in order to get the feeling across within their instrumentation. It's the downfall of many instrumental-prog bands, ones who can noodle on their guitar all day, but still not produce anything expressive. Not so with this band; listen to Animals as Leaders, shut out the rest of the world, and you will start seeing images, feeling things in yourself that you didn't know existed.
That's not to say Animals as Leaders isn't highly impressive technically, of course. Some of the guitarwork will blow your mind. The entire album was written and recorded by eight-string guitar virtuoso Tobin Abasi, which makes it all the more impressive, and effective as well. It works in the listener's favor having the ability to see one man's vision, making it more accessible, easier to grasp the message that Abasi is trying to convey wordlessly.
All the gears in this system work together, with no weak link. Guitar and bass flow smoothly, as do the drums and synthesizer. Abasi's gets a sound out of his guitar that's both jaw-dropping and breathtaking, sometimes simultaneously. There aren't really enough words to fully describe the dramatic effect of the music. This is one release that you absolutely have to experience.
I'd been planning on reviewing Animals as Leaders for a while, but I held off, for one simple reason. I wanted to see if this disc had staying power. At this point, I feel foolish for ever questioning that. Nothing sounds quite like AaL, and very few acts could ever hope to produce something quite this brilliant. This is most definitely the greatest instrumental piece you will hear this year.
Track to Check: "Tempting Time" (then the rest of the tracks if that gets you hooked)