A step forward in the world of ambitious music

The Madness of Many is the fourth album release from Animals as Leaders, continuing the band’s legacy of excellent virtuoso guitar work with a wide palate of music styles ranging from groove to prog and metal and even a tinge of electronica in the mix.

This is also very evident in the band’s previous albums but The Madness of Many delivers a more improved sonic architecture than its predecessors.

There is a greater emphasis on Tosin Abasi’s style of picking the lower end strings more so in this album and critics will compare this to Meshuggah or categorise it as djent but Animals as Leaders are far more diverse than that label would suggest. Instrumental music has always been successful in the world of jazz or classical music but instrumental metal is something that only handful of guitarists like Timo Tolkki, Joe Satriani or Steve Vai have managed to make appealing.

The album opens with the dark tones of “Arithmophobia”, a track with tension and a haunting atmosphere. “Ectogenesis” bursts with pulsating electronica and builds into a bouncing groove like I’m at a rave. “Cognitive Contortions” is also pleasantly synthetic but has a heavy guitar groove that’s present throughout. “Inner Assassins” is heavy in groove but has beautiful guitar melodies riding the song as does “Private Visions of the World”. In “Backpfeifengesicht”, Abasi makes his guitar sound like a machine gun and bends the strings in a menacing and brutal fashion. “Transcientience” is a slower more progressive rock piece that allows Abasi to play with grace but also with technical precision. “The Glass Bridge” takes the listener into a lullaby like you’re going down a river; calm moments are punctuated with great power and rough edges. “The Brain Dance” opens with an Al Di Meola-like acoustic guitar and then adds electric riffs on top making it a song that keeps expanding sonic layers as it becomes more and more climatic. “Apeirophobia” closes the album and is the first time the strict Animals as Leaders line of attack has allowed Abasi to indulge in an acoustic solo; this track is highly influenced by Spanish flamenco players like Paco De Lucia.

The Madness of Many is yet another great album in the Animals as Leaders canon. Abasi is one of the finest guitar players of his generation and stands with any of the great progressive rock and jazz fusion guitarists of the 70s. The album feels like a step forward in the world of ambitious music and fans of the band’s previous albums will not be disappointed, neither will new listeners who might have just discovered the kicks of Animals as Leaders.

1. Arithmophobia
2. Ectogenesis
3. Cognitive Contortions
4. Inner Assassins
5. Private Visions of the World
6. Backpfeifengesicht
7. Transcentience
8. The Glass Bridge
9. The Brain Dance
10. Aperiophobia