Animals As Leaders
The Madness of Many


4.5
superb

Review

by MercuryToHell CONTRIBUTOR (40 Reviews)
November 11th, 2016 | 297 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A refreshingly earnest take on an inherently arrogant genre

It’s very easy to come away from listening to a lot of technical metal feeling a little empty. Beneath the showmanship and undeniable talent, the genre is often guilty of failing to invoke any real feeling: when surgical precision takes centre stage a certain energy almost invariably paves the way. Animals as Leaders are no exceptions to this – where their 3 previous full-lengths have all in their own right been extremely impressive, stellar pieces of work, they are not without their shortcomings: a truly inventive and well-realised debut was somewhat clouded by muddy production and slightly blunted guitar tones, Weightless was at times cold, and is massively top-heavy in this reviewer’s opinion, and The Joy of Motion percussion was a little overpowered and detracted from a lot of the new-found warmth the tracks brought.

The Madness of Many threatened to baffle once again on the release of the three singles. Indeed, it has to be said that ‘The Brain Dance’, ‘Arithmophobia’ and ‘Inner Assassins’ are not perhaps the best representation of the album as a whole, with the second possibly providing the weakest point on the record. However, Animals as Leaders are not, never have been, and presumably never will be a singles band, and while they have backed this up by only ever releasing two official videos, it’s interesting to note that a contrasting frustration with the trio is that their records have never really held a solid concept or structure throughout, more often feeling like disjointed compilations of pieces. Fortunately, The Madness of Many goes some way to rectifying this unwelcome formula, and while the title of the record would seem apt for music as technically challenging and unpredictable as the band usually are, there is an underlying purpose to this body of work. Madness, this is not. Then again, The Clinical Perfection of an Annoyingly Talented Few lacks a certain something, right"

This is not a reinvention as such, as similar to The Dillinger Escape Plan’s swansong earlier this year, Animals as Leaders have taken specific elements that shaped their previous albums and dressed them up in a new gloss and intent of using them to their best potential. The self-titled debut is referenced in the razor-sharp romp of ‘Backpfeifengesicht’ and the culturally schizophrenic aforementioned ‘Arithmophobia’. The electronics that shaped Weightless take on a new guise here, abandoning the clinical glitchy territory in favour of deeper techno loops on ‘Cognitive Contortions’ and personal album highlight ‘Ectogenesis’, allowing Tosin and Javier’s guitar work to proudly strut and swell atop the synthetics. The majority of this record is, however, shaped by the ideas on The Joy of Motion. Almost every track on offer here serves up blissful slices of lush, dense jazz-infused euphoria in almost natural contrast to the angular, jutting riffs. The guitar tones on display here are immaculate, and no imperfections have been re-recorded or disguised, creating an extremely organic feel (for example, the second half of ‘The Glass Bridge’ feels almost painstakingly improvised, and the vulnerability of the beautiful flamenco-acoustic closer ‘Apeirophobia’ is truly breathtaking).

With regards to the rest of the instrumentation, the production on this album is a marked improvement on all of their previous releases. The whole project sounds deep yet intimate, inviting despite being inherently tough to break into, and while a few of these tracks are definitely some of the most complex the band have ever put to record, Animals as Leaders seem to have developed their stance from actively challenging people to enjoy them (anyone remember the ‘chances are we’re better musicians than you’ t-shirt") to presenting their work almost with their hearts on their sleeves – this is still technically outstanding, but with an emotive sheen on the end package which is extremely endearing. The band seem to have fallen in love with their instruments rather than soullessly pimping them out for our consumption - Matt Garstka is in particular a revelation on this record, creating jaw-dropping moments with consummate ease. Any discomfort caused by turning Animals as Leaders into a band from the solo project that it was born as is a distant memory - everything clicks into place blissfully. It finally feels like the band have found themselves.

To sum up, The Madness of Many is a sprawling yet defined, difficult yet pleasant, and a refreshingly earnest take on an inherently arrogant genre, offering more with every repeated listen without requiring effort by the listener to crack the code – an absolute success.



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user ratings (396)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Ocean of Noise (4)
Animals as Leaders release another excellent album that offers some promising glimpses into their fu...


Comments:Add a Comment 
tre
November 11th 2016


321 Comments


That was fast...
For me the album had to much "djent filler," Idk how else to put it. This album is better than Weightless, but a step down from Joy of Motion. The last 2 tracks however are incredible.

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
November 11th 2016


1255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Another review written very soon after the release, but again a lot of the formation of the review came from the leak, and was solidified by the actual release last night.

Did not wanna sleep on this thing!

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
November 11th 2016


55359 Comments


last album was good but whatever probably won't listen

Digging: Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights

jimmykidd
November 11th 2016


636 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cant wait to spin this. expectations are high. absolutely loved TJOM

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
November 11th 2016


1255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I still can't get over how much it actually feels like it has a beginning, middle and end - I've never felt that on an AaL record before...

tre
November 11th 2016


321 Comments


It does feel, perhaps, conceptual in a way as opposed to their previous work. Nice review btw.

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
November 11th 2016


1255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks man, after the singles I was almost expecting a disappointment from this - I didn't hate them, I just feel they make way much more sense within the context of the album.

'Arithmophobia' still feels a little detached from the rest of the album though, not sure what's not really doing it for me on that one.

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
November 11th 2016


15793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

reviewing leaks!! sputstitution activate!!

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
November 11th 2016


1255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Goddamnit. Nothing worse than being made an example of.

SoccerRiot
November 11th 2016


2935 Comments


Great review dude, I'll have to check this out soon. I like these guys, but I always thought they had more potential than what they were putting out. Hopefully this changes things in that regard

Toondude10
November 11th 2016


11611 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I feel like that third paragraph could be broken up into two separate paragraphs and you could've elaborated a bit more in your conclusion but other than that sweet review.



Yeah this is fantastic so far, might be better than Joy of Motion

Digging: Face The King - Once More Is All I Am

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
November 11th 2016


1255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I toyed with the idea of that last paragraph being split actually so I'mma change it now, thankyou!

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
November 11th 2016


1255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Edit: double post. Fuck you mobile phone.

Eggvander
November 11th 2016


206 Comments


better than the joy of motion and on par with their debut IMO. Great album, seems like they've even put more emphasis on rhythm.

MO
November 11th 2016


22011 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

curious to see if there are more than 2 great moments on this as opposed to joy of motion

Relinquished
November 11th 2016


36602 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

definitely feels like a different approach to the writing and not just on rhythm

Piglet
November 11th 2016


7447 Comments


what exactly do you mean by an "inherently arrogant genre"?

MercuryToHell
Contributing Reviewer
November 11th 2016


1255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think any movement that serves as a platform for instrumentalists to show off has to be a bit arrogant, and that's not even entirely meant as a negative because most of the best showmen and women have more than a little streak of it which makes them entertaining.

I used the word in this context because where a lot of releases like this make me feel a little detached and distant (albeit impressed), this engaged me a lot more by comparison.

Edit: I didn't mean it in any offensive way but a feeling I get from a lot of records of this ilk is that the structure of the tracks takes a back-seat to the virtuosity on top of it and sometimes the record suffers for it...

jmh886
November 11th 2016


1858 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yes how the hell is a genre arrogant?

Voltimand
November 11th 2016


705 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"For me the album had to much "djent filler," Idk how else to put it. This album is better than Weightless, but a step down from Joy of Motion. The last 2 tracks however are incredible." [2]



Too much of that clicking guitar sound, not sure what else to call it.



Album may grow on me, bumping to 3.5 as musicianship is solid but nothing here grabbing me like s/t or TJOM.

Digging: Gasoline - Journey Into Abstract Hip Hop



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