50 Unheralded Albums from 2011

Animals as Leaders: WeightlessAnimals as LeadersWeightless (Prosthetic, 11/8/11)

Animals as Leaders: “Odessa”

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Begun as a solo project that highlighted guitarist Tosin Abasi’s unmistakable shredding, Animals as Leaders released its debut album in 2009, emitting progressive-metal instrumentals with tasteful ambient, electronic, and jazz undertones. Now a trio, Animals as Leaders has returned with Weightless, its first recording as an official band.

The album features more hyper-prolific finger-tapping on eight-string guitars, the instrument of choice for Abasi’s meticulously crafted material. Electronica intros and bridges play a large role, but Weightless — ironically — often is very, very heavy, more so than its predecessor, trudging into sludge territory for spells. Despite the insane technicality, there’s always an emphasis on melody and head-banging rhythms, but the music — endorsed by shred virtuoso Steve Vai — is just as suitable for those with short attention spans.

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