Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Animals As Leaders – Weightless

So this is that djent music that all the kids are talking about, huh?  I have to admit, I like it better than I thought I would.  I like Meshuggah, the band that this sub-genre is named for, but any time you get a bunch of instrumental music going on there is always the possibility of band members more concerned about showing off how many notes they can play in a minute instead of writing songs that actually have a beginning, middle and end, and you know, sound like songs.  Or you get the sparkling, technical proficiency from guys like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani, but absolutely no soul in the music so it sounds like it was written by robots.
This is the 2nd release for Animals As Leaders and the first as an actual band that wrote all the songs together.  And to be honest, there are some moments where you can tell that they are showing off their technical prowess here and there.  But then again, if you got the chops you might as well show them off when you have the opportunity.

There are 12 songs on this album, and they really do sound like songs and not just an excuse for wankery.   There are a lot of time signature changes and a lot of very cool melodies and counter melodies going on in all of these tracks.  This is definitely a band that is into the technical side of playing.  As a 3 piece you get guitar, bass and drums and there is a fair amount of programmed, synth stuff going on as well, which I would imagine means they have to be incredibly tight when they play live.  And I think it is pushing the genre envelope to say that Animals As Leaders are really a metal band.  They have some metal moments but this is definitely a very progressive band and I would say much more rock than metal.

I really enjoy several of the tracks on this album.  “Somnarium” and “Earth Departure” have some very cool things going on in terms of the aforementioned melodies and counter melodies.  In both of these tracks there is a main melody that flows through the song, gets turned around and upside down and comes back to the main theme, and it is very well done.  “Do Not Go Gently” is a lot of fun to listen to; again because of the interweaving melodies and the time signatures bouncing all over the place, plus I give them bonus points for not spelling it “Djently”.   “New Eden” is almost a pretty song with some nice dynamic contrasts.  And “Cylindrical Sea” features some absolutely jaw dropping guitar work.

This is a very good album and one that I look forward to spending more time with.  I may even check out some of the other bands in the djent genre.  If they do it as well as Animals As Leaders they are worth checking out.  –ODIN

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