So Animals As Leaders are one for two on their latest album to this point, the first track I loved, the second one I didn’t so much. However, this has happened to me before numerous times with this group; they are always very much hit or miss. Usually those misses take a multitude of re-listens before you begin to appreciate them. So with that being said, what did I think of their latest outing?
Eh, it’s okay. It’s not the best prog track I’ve heard all week and with this group I kind of expect it to be the best. It just lacked any real spice; this is becoming a little reoccurring to me. Don’t get me wrong the technicality and the rhythmic imagination on this track is unbelievable, but it’s hardly catchy or memorable if I’m honest. The first two minutes in particular had me completely distracted; it sort of just dragged on. However, when the beat changed up around that two minute mark, that’s when things started to elevate for me. The beats got more catchy, the guitar started playing something a bit more quirky, and it just contained a little more personality past that point.
Production wise this track is brilliant apart from one tiny section. The tone of the clean guitar in the final minute, is absolutely terrible which makes no sense to me. AAL’s always manage to surprise me with how good their tones are, especially when it comes to the clean stuff, so it confused me why we had this trebly, clunky clean tone at the end… Very strange. The drums are mixed perfectly however, with just the right amount of impact and just the right amount of organic tone. They never sounded programmed or too electronic, but instead kept their natural sound. The distorted guitars sound just as good as every other AAL track; they don’t need to change a thing about that.
Musicality wise this song is terrifically arranged, but lacks anything truly memorable. The first two minutes, as I mentioned, really dragged on due to self-indulgent mini soloing and a lack of cohesion; the progressions were boring and the lead over it lacked any consistent development. The drums are unreal in this track. I’d be surprised if even a handful of drummers around the world could replicate what Matt did on this song. The transitions in particular seemed to break the laws of time =; my mind melted at the fills. This is the best showing Matt has had in a little while and it was great to listen to. The lack of instrumental harmonies kind of bothered me since I know Javier is capable of much more than rhythmic plucking. It felt like he was constrained to the note positions of whatever the beat behind him was; difficult to word but hopefully you know what I mean. There weren’t any solos that really made my mouth hang open, but then they certainly weren’t bad. I think the reason behind all these problems, is that the song suffers from the newly founded genre cliches. Too much concentration put on rhythm and technicality, and not enough concentration put on melody and texture. The form of this track is pretty imaginative though so I will give them their due there.
All in all then the song is okay, not great, but okay. I really hope that there are more interesting deviations from their regular sound on this album otherwise I might end up putting them into the boring category of ‘over djenters’. When you consider that Plini, Hung, Dan James Griffin and Polyphia have all showed their individual chops this year, I just hope Animals As Leaders don’t flop in response to trying to reach their heights (I’m talking memorably here, not sales wise).