ANIMALS AS LEADERS — Weightless — the ultimate metal music online community, from the creators of

ANIMALS AS LEADERS - Weightless cover
4.23 | 34 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2011


1. An Infinite Regression (3:25)
2. Odessa (4:14)
3. Somnarium (4:15)
4. Earth Departure (5:10)
5. Isolated Incidents (3:47)
6. Do Not Go Gently (3:41)
7. New Eden (2:40)
8. Cylindrical Sea (4:32)
9. Espera (2:13)
10. To Lead You To An Overwhelming Question (4:50)
11. Weightless (5:16)
12. David (2:27)

Total Time 46:30


- Tosin Abasi / guitars
- Javier Reyes / guitars
- Navene Koperweis / drums

About this release

Label: Prosthetic Records
Release Date: November 4 (Europe), 7 (U.K.), and 8 (North America), 2011

Produced by Navene Koperweis and Animals As Leaders.
Mixed by Javier Reyes.

Thanks to Stooge for the addition


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Is Djent really a subgenre or just a style of playing? Well, if Animals as Leaders' Weightless is anything to go by, one thing's for sure: it certainly isn't much like the bulk of Dream Theater-inspired progressive metal bands. Djent groups can be derided in some quarters for getting overly fancy with their technical playing, but I don't really hear that here - whilst there's no doubt that this is an album with a highly technical focus, the band never resort to aimless noodling, instead creating a wonderfully atmospheric piece which proves that you can combine technical excellence with emotional resonance. If Djent is really nothing more than a particular flavour of prog metal, then finally this is prog metal I can really get excited about.
Animals as Leaders is one of those bands that completely took me by surprise. I've heard a lot of extraordinary music, and plenty of mediocre music, but no matter who told me these guys were amazing, I wouldn't have been prepared for what was to come. They are completely unique - I'd describe their style as "Progressive Jazz/Metal/Techno Fusion". Or something like that. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this band is that there are only 3 members, and no bassist. They are strictly instrumental. The lead guitarist of the band, Tosin Abasi, has developed a unique style of guitar playing where he combines guitar playing techniques with bass playing techniques, and employes the use of an 8 stringed guitar that has a bass string or two. I highly recommend looking up Tosin Abasi on youtube sometime - it will be one of the most amazing musical feats you've ever witnessed, I promise. When I listen to Animals as Leaders, I find it hard to go back to listening to anyone else - this music is so beautifully complex that after hearing it everything else seems less amazing, and often I must listen to something simplistic and soothing to sort of cleanse the palette, if you will. Weightless is the second album by AAL, and in this album we find they have toned down the aggressive passages just a bit, and explored their Jazz Fusion side a little bit more I think. There is more of that electronica sound this time around as well. You will hear Tosin experiment with new techniques that did not appear on the first album.
Time Signature
Do not go gently...

Genre: instru-djent-al

One of the hottest and most sensational movements within the universe of progressive metal these days is probably the djent movement, which has received a lot of media-attention over the last year. There is a lot of interesting djent-based progressive metal out there, and Animals as Leaders' "Weightless" is definitely instrumental djent at its finest.

From beginning to end, the release takes the listener on a journey through a dynamic, but also incredibly coherent and consistent, musical landscape, combining mindboggling odd-metered djent grooves with mellow and ambient passages - often accompanied by beats and other elements from ambient electronica (do not ask me to pinpoint a specific electronica-genre, I am not very well-versed in electronica genre category). Thus the music takes you up and down and in and out and back and forth constantly, but it is all bound together by a certain consistency in sound and approach, and this makes the album incredibly enjoyable to listen to. Most of the tracks are, with an average length of 4 minutes, actually pretty short for progressive metal, bur listening to the entire album is pretty much like listening to one long track, and it is music that you can really lose yourself in, because of the dynamism and consistency. There is also a sort of twisted sense of melody - which is particularly evident in 'Do Not Go Gently', which is a purely amazing track.

The musicianship is top notch, and I particularly enjoy the guitar solos which for the most part are incredibly virtuous, drawing on jazz fusion and jazz rock, and, of course, the capacity of the musicians for executing clock-work precise complex rhythmic figures is nothing less than impressive. And the great thing is that the music contains atmosphere, melody and virtuosic "wankery", and it is overall very expressive, so it should have a wide appeal within the community of lovers of progressive metal (I am not sure how accessible the album is to the mainstream though).

I can imagine that some might find the production to be cold and sterile and too polished, but this type of production has become an integrated feature of djent music, and I think it works to the advantage of the music, because a fuzzy production would probably prevent the listener from really enjoying all the details and quirks of this music. So, yes, the production is perhaps polished and sterile, but for the purpose of this album, this is the way to go production-wise.

Animals as Leaders' "Weightless" is an amazing effort and a challenging but very enjoyable work of progressive music, which should appeal, not only to djent fans, but more broadly to fans of progressive metal (I think that fans of jazz-tinged progressive metal will in particular enjoy this album).

(review originally posted at

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