If you like metal and virtuosic guitar needling, look no further than Animals As Leaders. It’s instrumental metal unlike any instrumental metal you’ve heard before, a drummer and two guitarists with some serious chops (and 16 strings) between the two of them. The result is heavy instrumental rock with nods to the offhanded jazziness of mathcore but more than any style, it’s really their insane level of musicianship that makes Animals As Leaders such a memorable act.
At center is Tobin Abasi, an unquestionable legend in modern guitar metal and the driving force behind AAL. He’s a special talent, nearly visible from space, not only with fast fingers but a knack for using them well. Abasi founded the group after his previous outfit disbanded and originally AAL wasn’t much more than a solo experiment. But with Javier Rayes (rhythm guitar) and Matt Garstka (drums) on board, the group filled out to an absurdly rich sound. Two albums later and Animals As Leaders is rapidly becoming one of the most provocative acts in an incredibly oversaturated genre.
Animals As Leaders on stage is something of a spectacle. They don’t move much, barely at all actually, but that’s okay for this type of show. They stand still, each member entranced, completely focused on their hands and their instruments. It’s a weirdly awesome sight to see. So once again, if you like guitar virtuosos and instrumental metal, find Animals As Leaders and listen to what they have to play.