With impressive bewilderment, Animals as Leaders present their newest album, The Madness of Many. The album, unlike previous albums, is more than a test to see how many polyrhythms over straightforward and compound meters. It is more than testing how much they could play with the tonality of their songs. Instead this album is story-telling with simple melodies, thoughtful with heavy syncopated grooves, but still, acts a bit mad with complex rhythms with melodies intertwined. Frontmen Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes are always busy with their bionic guitar work, as drummer Matt Garstka grooves effortlessly to all of Tosin and Javier’s impossible riffs. When they compose songs, they create melodies, harmonic progressions, and rhythmic patterns interwoven with each other, that unfold to show more complexity. That is no exaggeration either, the songs living organisms that think and challenge ideas. So, the beauty of Animal as Leaders is their capability to write songs that argue through complex song structure but also offering compassion for every polyrhythmic melody endured.
To say this album is the most relaxed and listener friendly is a perplexing, but it stands right. In previous albums, the focus was on solo work, and though an underlying rhythm, a melody was often hard to find, until the release of They Joy of Motion, which had an array of fun tunes that seemed extremely playful, still a bit mad. However, the first noticeable thing of The Madness of Many is more lyrical melodies. Often, a melody in their previous work was amongst the billion notes that preceded it, then followed. However, in The Madness of Many, songs such as Inner assassins, Arithmophobia, and Ectogenesis have the melody gliding above the dense guitar and drum work, making the songs much easier to grasp onto and enjoy. This new melodic work isn’t the only thing that there is to enjoy, as the writing process for the album was done solely by Tosin, Javier, and Matt, rather than a producer or third party piecing together their songs. This approach meant the songs were created through the collaborative effort from each member, making it sound natural and straight from the minds of the musicians. The result; a shared gem, a collaborative effort that is fun for listening and exciting to explore with the band members.
The album is a group effort, and so each member has their hand creating each track, so each song is an unusual mix. The songs listed represent the overall change in musicality and technique. Arithmophobia correctly starts the track off with a twangy ostinato, followed by a pressing drum groove, then the song settles down to the drum’s pace. The first solo comes in soaring above the off-beat groove, demonstrating attention to more simple and lyrical solos. Backpfeifengesicht is the heaviest track on the album, combining syncopated on and off beats with dissonant riffs, it feels like the tensest track on the album. The melodic line has no trouble settling itself amongst the busy work, and the song offers a peaceful atmospheric break near its end. The Brain Dance is the most relaxing track from the whole discography of Animals as Leaders, and yet the craftwork of the band remains distinguishable. The swift riffs and arpeggios relax the nerves, and the solo work is not stressed, as it flows throughout the track. Little low-end riffs up the pace and energize the song, but the relaxed vibe stays. And finally, Apeirophobia, a sonata for two guitars, is the most beautiful track on the album. Steady build ups a never-ending romantic minor progression, and solo work that is both classical and jazz, the song rushes to no end, ending the album on a calm and subtle note.
The madness of Tosin Abasi’s guitar work, accompanied by Javier Reyes gracefully heavy harmonic foundation, and Matt Garstka’s complex grooves, are all pulled in to create a new sounding Album that truly shares their madness to many of their fans. A fantastic production, mixed by Misha Mansoor of Periphery, whose work spreads throughout the album, has done an excellent job at putting together the album. With that, I encourage you to listen to their album on Spotifyfy, and if you loved them, to buy their album as well!