Thursday, November 17, 2011

Animals As Leaders: Weightless

Animals As Leaders
Reviewed by Steve Bello

Tosin Abasi is, without question, the "it" guy for Ibanez 8-string guitar, and creating interesting textures where most players would just stick to Meshuggah-inspired riffing (nothing wrong with that, of course). Those who are familiar with Tosin know that he was once in a band called Reflux that musically was great but vocally was very distracting. When news broke out that Tosin was doing a purely instrumental project, fans of his fleet-fingered work were excited.

Weightless is the second album for AAL and while it is definitely very diverse and a great workout for both Tosin and the listener, something troubles me a bit. Every song virtually starts off the same, with a clean guitar intro, as if to say "This is a false sense of security, I am about to bludgeon you now." Tosin clearly studied Jazz and Progressive music, which is evident on tracks such as "Somnarium," "Isolated Incidents," and "Earth Departure" (the only track not to have a clean intro). One can hear influences as obvious as Yes, Rush, King Crimson, and some not-so apparent like Mahavishnu Orchestra. Utilizing the 8-string to its fullest potential, Tosin wrings out some intricate melodies that aren't contrived or give the sense of "I have heard this somewhere before." Tosin approaches the 8-string from a fresh perspective, not just for brutal guttural riffing (but when he does, he can give so-called "heavy" bands a good run for their money!)

For guys like Steve Vai to praise Tosin up and down, that's high praise indeed! I do recommend this album for anyone that wants to break from the "heavy-for-heavy sake" metal that is out there today. Tosin is clearly ahead of the curve and at the top of the game. Some of us should be so lucky.

Rating: 5/5

Steve Bello is one of NJ's most famous instrumental guitarists, known for his speed and dexterity. With his latest album, Go Berzerk, he is finding worldwide recognition for his hard work and dedication to his music. Check out our video interview with Steve here.