Saturday, 29 September 2012

Animals As Leaders

I met Animals As Leaders frontchap Tosin Abasi a few years ago, when he was manning the merch stand at a gig in Aldershot's glamorous West End Centre - the knackered urinal of the UK toilet circuit.  At the time Tosin was playing lead guitar for the very fine but short lived metalcore outfit Reflux, playing support for the very fine but short lived metal outfit Eden Maine.  I mainly remember it for the weird stand-off we shared, where I was pretty sure but not certain that he was the guitarist for Reflux, and he seemed pretty sure that I might know he was the guitarist for Reflux but wasn't certain that I knew that.

According to the great bastion of truth and enlightenment that is Wikipedia, it would have been around this time that his band's record label approached him with the idea of a solo record - an idea that he dismissed at the time as "egotistical and unnecessary".

Fast forward to earlier this year; Reflux went kaput some years ago, Tosin has taken up his label's offer and released two albums under the moniker Animals As Leaders, and I am in the crowd to see them play support to the mighty Meshuggah.  I mainly remember this gig for the three stitches I needed in my eyebrow after colliding violently with some other chap in the pit; but also for the Animals As Leaders set, which was one of the finest displays of virtuoso fretboard wankery I have seen since... well, since Reflux played the West End Centre in Aldershot.

Its taken me until a few weeks ago to get around to picking up anything by them; but now that I have (their self-titled debut), I'll be damned if I can stop listening to it.  It's a little self indulgent in places, sure; but the twiddlyness never detracts from the overall groove of the record.  As such it manages to be one of those most rare things; a guitar-based instrumental record with some fucking soul.

Seriously, these guys are the best 8-string progressive jazz metal band you'll ever hear.  And I appreciate that it's not an especially crowded genre, but you should check them out anyway.


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