A few tweaks here and there, and these guys could be a force to be reckoned with.
Animals as Leaders – The Madness of Many
The Madness of Many is a step. Some say a step forwards, others say a step back. Progressive Metal certainly wouldn’t be as diverse today as it is without AAL that’s for sure, so whatever way the step was, modern metal will have some followers take a step in the same direction. With the likes of Chon and Polyphia taking on a jazzier, more ‘poppy’ sound, it seems Animals As Leaders have been somewhat inspired to follow suit. This has resulted in The Madness of Many being a fun and accessible listen, without losing any of their signature style and suave.
The album has certainly benefitted from the success of the last album’s lead single, Physical Education. The more accessible, digestible elements have helped lead The Madness of Many to sound a lot easier to enjoy. The first album was near inaccessible with it’s unorthodox time-signatures and eclectic progressions, but tracks like Private Visions of the World and Arithmophobia really open up and let the average listener who may not be as versed to the freneticism of progressive metal enjoy it.
Aepirophobia has this wonderful tendency to showcase the natural elements of Tosin and Javier. The licks are incredibly well executed but you can still hear tiny nuances that show the sound is natural, recorded and human. It’s an important thing to hear in the modern day of metal where precision and tightness is all-to-often abused. The ‘Thumping’ technique popularised by Tosin Abasi, one of the 2 lead guitarists is just as prevalent here, if not more so, than previous releases. At times, such as during Cognitive Contortions and Ectogenesis, it can feel a little boring and generally gimmicky, without a lot of substance to elevate it.
Animals as Leaders have occasionally suffered from sounding like a commercial for techniques and tones at the sacrifice of feeling and melody, but The Madness of Many has, in a lot of ways, closed that gap. Songs such as The Brain Dance and Inner Assassins really show some beautiful melodic passages interlaced over odd signatures and unique rhythms. Transcentience feels a little like filler at times, with not a huge amount that’s gripping happening. Plini is the king of letting the music breathe, but Transcentience just feels like it’s let breathe to the extent it loses a bit of substance, and in turn, interest.
Animals as Leaders has come a long way. Their progressive counterparts such as Plini, Chon and Periphery have taken huge strides towards more tonally happy, accessible music, and the influence of AAL is clear. The overall compositions feel less convoluted, more considered and flow smoother. The tones are chunky, tight and hugely varied to suit the emotional current AAL wants to take you on. The album does have moments that are weaker than others and generally less interesting, but those are there for people to be impressed by the technical wizardry. The album feels a lot more cohesive and generally more enjoyable than previous efforts, and there is certainly more beauty than can be found in releases before. While I don’t think it will be remembered as their magnum opus, it is certainly a great album by 3 incredibly talented men.