The words “virtuosic” and “unique” are seriously overused when music journalists talk about Metal. I’m an offender of this, mostly because I feel that Metal is filled with uniquely virtuosic musicians who have technically honed their craft. And partially because I’m not that creative.
But then there are times like when I listen to a group such as Animals As Leaders and I feel like “The Boy Who Cried Genius.”
The first time I ever heard Animals As Leaders — an instrumental Progressive Metal band formed by lead guitarist and creative driving force of the group, Tosin Abasi — it was their song “CAFO” off their self-titled debut. The only thought that came to my mind as I listened to Abasi ravishing his eight-string guitar during the six-minute masterpiece was that it lacked the typical bore that instrumental Metal often brings to the table.
Listening to artists like Yngwie Malmsteen and Joe Satriani, who in their own right are two of the best musicians on the planet, it always felt like their songs were just painfully drawn-out, over-the-top, self-servicing solos, merely canvases upon which to display their egos and masterful technical proficiency (“Come one, come all … see how amazing I am.”).
Animals As Leaders display their talent through complex, well-thought-out musical melodies and movements, never making it feel like you’re being forced to simply admire their abilities but encouraging listeners to experience them instead, making the admiration and respect for their craft grow as the bore diminishes.
ANIMALS AS LEADERS perform Thursday, Feb. 21 with Intronaut and Meshuggah at Bogart's in Corryville. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.