Animals as Leaders: The Joy of Motion album review

Dominic Spizzirri

Finally, a new Animals as Leaders record that features all of the same eight-string guitar glory you have come to know and love from the group.

For those who do not know of Animals of Leaders, they are an instrumental metal group made up of three members, currently Matt Garstka on drums and both Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes on (eight-string) guitars. The band has never wanted a vocalist and, since their inception into the metal scene, have become leaders as well as pioneers in the current popular instrumental metal music as well as the “djent” metal sub-genre.

Going away from the craziness that was “CAFO“, from the band’s first self-titled record, “The Joy of Motion” feels cleaner, more organized and overall a better constructed album as opposed to its predecessors, even if this album sometimes does feel like more of the same.

Right off the bat, the album leads you into exactly what to expect with the track “Ka$cade.” There are complicated polyrhythmic guitar riffs and crazy drum beats as well as one of the best solos on the record right in the beginning. Other tracks on this record take you for the same journey, including the heavy “Tooth and Claw” and the absolutely insane “Mind = Spun” which is the perfect song title and has to be heard to be believed. 

The addition of the jazzier “Another Year” and the acoustic guitars to break up the mayhem is a wonderful addition which feels like it belongs rather than just there as an ear break. 

Compared to the first two records from the band, “The Joy of Motion” brings a more confident sound. While the self-titled record sounded like the band showing what they are capable of and “Weightless”, which felt more like an unconfident follow up, “The Joy of Motion” shows that Animals as Leaders are a force to be reckoned with. 

This album’s production is one thing that can be noticed. The album was once again co-written and produced with Animals as Leaders friend, band member of Periphery, Misha Mansoor and the bass on this album was written by Periphery member Adam “Nolly” Getgood. 

With the added elements from the Periphery members, the record fits perfectly as those two brought exactly what the album needed. 

Other production and writing came from Volumes member Diego Farias, and it is evident what songs were produced by him (Physical Education, Crescent and Mind = Spun), due to a slightly different tone. 

Does Animals as Leaders still carry the throne as being the leader within instrumental metal? Yes. This record is a fantastic example of just how talented the band is while being able to stay true to its roots while exploring different musical elements. This album is just another reason to why this band should never get a vocalist.