Animals As Leaders are back with another intricately designed musical journey through progressive metal, jazz and beyond. The third album by the trio takes a different direction than the last two releases and it's their most refined album so far. Their debut (or to be precise, Tosin Abasi's debut, since the trio only came to be before the second release) was basically a demostration of Tosin's skills on 8-string guitar, the compositions were spacey and contained more riffs and solos than one can memorize.
The second album, "Weightless", showed an emphasis on shredding within more "classic" verse-chorus composition, while still mantaining a heavy progressive element. Many fans of the debut album thought it was a disappointment but in my case it was my introduction to AAL and personally I enjoyed it much more than the self-titled.
Now, 3 years after the release of "Weightless" lands the third album and second trio release, "The Joy Of Motion". One thing instantly caught my attention when I first listened to it, the album features much less soloing in favor of creating sonic landscapes and a constant sense of groove; the combination of clean tones and heavily processed guitars (and often electronica) is great and the songs shift constantly through both.
This time around the album was produced by Misha Mansoor and Nolly Getgood (both from Periphery) and their influence is pretty obvious in the djent infused "Tooth And Claw" and closer "Nephele", but it doesn't stop the album from being pretty colorful and varied, from the jazzy "Another Year" to the synchopated slap guitar and bass of "Physical Education", one of my favourite tracks on the album.
"The Joy Of Motion" has one of the things I like to come across the most when a listen to an album, a collection of songs that are varied, keep you interested and at the same time feel like a coherent entity, something very few bands manage.