The guitar hero is not the same thing it used to be.  The guys like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, as one man virtuosos are not the norm.  The guitar hero now mostly comes in the form of a group and the one at the top is Animals as Leaders where not only is the lead guy, Tosin Abasi, the bona fide guitar hero, but fellow guitar great Javier Reyes and super drummer Matt Garstka, stand toe to toe with their frontman as virtuosos in their own right.  The three together have cracked every ceiling that might limit the potential for success for an instrumental trio.  They have albums on the Billboard charts and sellout shows across the world, and multiple endorsements.  Now comes the release of their 4th album ‘The Madness of Many’.

While their last album was a mix of aggressive and melodic styles, the new album is more rhythmic and built on the intensity the three musicians generate.  There is a lot of double bass and drop-tuned heaviness throughout the material.  Melodies are more spread out but the other-wordly performances are still there.  The opening track “Arithmophobia” is a perfect example of the album’s overall sonic approach.   The crazy syncopated rhythm patterns and almost speed-metal like riffs offer little room for anything else to fill the space but it is more than enough to get your attention.  “Cognitive Contortions” brings the bass up front and has the drums almost act as the lead accent instrument.

“Private Visions of the World” is the first time on the album where you get a hint of prior albums and the jazzy influence the group are able to incorporate.  Probably the album’s most memorable track is the classical first single “The Brain Dance” which is a gorgeous piece of writing and playing.  Oddly, it is paired with the album’s final track, the solo acoustic Aepirophobia, which again shows the diversity of this group.

Animals as Leaders have shown what they are capable of playing, which is just about anything.  With ‘The Madness of Many’ they have set out to show they can try new things and take some risks.  This is an adventurous and sometimes overwhelming album with music that you have to listen to a few times to understand.  But maybe that was the point.

Catch the band on tour with Intervals and Plini Nov 10-Dec 11.

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