Release Date: March 24th, 2014
Genre: Instrumental Progressive Metal
Label: Sumerian Records
Number of tracks: 12
Instrumental Progressive Metallers Animals as Leaders have released their third album, the Joy of Motion. A mixture of dark themes, jazz and blues influences and astonishing technicality, but how does it hold up? Is it an advancement of what came before?
Not really. The Joy Of Motion certainly is a step up in terms of production value, from that perspective the album sounds well balanced and warm. However, when it comes to the content, it lacks consistency. There are moments where the album is warm and interesting, (see, Air Chrysalis, Another Year) and moments where it's just overwhelming (See Leppincott, and after the first minute of Ka$cade) and these moments of incongruity, while technical on a level rarely seen, don't really add much to the listening experience. It's like flashes of moderately inappropriate strobe-lighting in the middle of the day.
Just to re-iterate, the musicianship of this album is phenomenal. As a technical feat, it's above and beyond most other albums, (although it seems important to point out that there aren't a whole bunch of albums comparable to what Animals as Leaders do, really) and for the technophiles out there it's probably on a par with, or even a level above Conquering Dystopia. However, uncompromising technicality does not equate to a fantastic listening experience and, for even a slightly more casual listener there isn't an awful lot to take away from the Joy of Motion.
The real crux of the matter is that the album fails to keep your attention and really forces you to try and focus on it, and this isn't a good trait in an album, to put it another way – It lacks soul, the sheer technical prowess gets lost in translation. When you've got to focus on music to enjoy it then it's failed to capture the attention of the listener and it here that The Joy of Motion really fails. Despite it's technicality, it fails to capture a listener's attention.
This doesn't necessarily mean that The Joy Of Motion is a bad album per se, depending on what criteria you define an album. If you're a huge fan of technical music then this album will no doubt appeal and that is fine, however if you're not specifically looking for technicality, then there are better albums out there and Animals as Leaders just fall short of providing an over-all experience.
To conclude, The Joy Of Motion is an extraordinary technical feat that lacks a real human element and as a result falls short of a full experience. If you are looking at getting into this kind of music, then this is probably not a good place to start, but if you're into next-level musicianship, definitely give it a try.