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Being a musician in an instrumental prog metal band almost exclusively designated you to the role of the social outcast in music class once upon a time. It was like the musical equivalent of being a Sc-Fi junkie. Not anymore though.
As Blunt magazine triumphantly proclaims in their recent yearbook edition, Washington based instrumental aficionados Animals as Leaders are taking back prog from the nerds. In a brooding, almost stylish sense, it seems this is one of the most desired forms of performance in the current metal spectrum.
Heirs to the instrumental throne or perhaps just little brothers, Texans Scale the Summit showed the power of a group of musicians feeding off their individual instruments with impressive third studio album ‘The Collective‘ earlier in the year.
Enter, Animals as Leaders and their second slab of djent-loving, prog heightening tunes. The end result, ‘Weightless‘. The album title may be slightly misleading. This is a dense, heavy and deep sound that has a monopoly on this style of music.
Sure the lack of vocals can cause an album lasting a tad over 46 minutes (in this case) to become a little stale. But putting this generalisation aside, Animals as Leaders offer something emotive and evolved. From the abstract and endearing guitar hooks of opener ‘An Infinite Regression‘ to the moody ‘Cylindrical Sea‘, ‘Weightless‘ carries a certain appeal.
The album benefits from the now structured line-up continuity of trio Abasi, Reyes and Koperweis. Sure every guitar sweeping junkie will be in their rooms trying to perfect their best Tosin Abasi replication but the performance of the latter two is just as noteworthy. Navene Koperweis, of one-time deathcore up and comers and criminally underrated outfit Animosity provides a brilliant and understated rhythm section.
‘Do Not Go Gently‘ is the Periphery-sounding, complex number while ‘Isolated Incidents‘ is the fusion-inspired, four-minute rhythmic exercise, which in trademark form begins calmly before picking up pace. ‘Espera‘ is a mellow affair, with the album concluding in the same manner, with the tranquil ‘David‘.
‘Weightless’ is again sonic and aural proof that instrumental albums can be interesting, engaging and innovative. The full-length does not get repetitive or concern itself with pompous musical traits. Something tells me ‘Weightless’ is going to motivate a few aspiring musicians to spend a bit more time in the practice room.
1. An Infinite Regression
4. Earth Departure
5. Isolated Incidents
6. Do Not Go Gently
7. New Eden
8. Cylindrical Sea
10. To Lead You To An Overwhelming Question