Animals as Leaders is: Tosin Abasi - Javier Reyes - Matt Garstka
“Don’t believe everything you hear.” This is sound advice in the age of spin—especially when the source is Washington, D.C. Enter progressive metal outfit Animals As Leaders. The band’s name itself is perfectly suggestive of its impossible sound, which often must be seen to be believed. Acrobatic guitars and surgical polymetric drumming are frequently accompanied by otherworldly soundscapes in an unmatched marriage of technicality and groove. Their statement is bold, and they’ve made it without a (human) voice. In the decade since its inception, the trio—guitarists Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes are joined by drummer Matt Garstka—have not only redefined the scope of instrumental music, but the limitations of their instruments themselves.
In 2008, Tosin Abasi began his initial work on a musical endeavor that would encapsulate the mindset and techniques he had developed in his recently-completed musical studies. His eventual collaboration with producer/engineer Misha Mansoor would culminate in April 2009 with the eponymous release of twelve instrumental tracks embodying a sound previously unheard, and seemingly unimagined—a blend of energetic, anxious metal with a flair for the cosmic. The record garnered (demanded) the immediate attention of listeners and musicians alike... the world was listening.
In the years following the addition of Reyes—classical guitarist/audio engineer—and Berklee-educated drummer Matt Garstka, Animals As Leaders has cemented its reputation as the face of modern progressive music, having earned Billboard chart positions for each of its three subsequent studio releases. In addition to headlining extensive tours spanning the globe, they have supported mainstays across the musical spectrum including Deftones, Thrice, Circa Survive, Underoath and Meshuggah. Their ambitious approach has earned them various accolades, including a cover issue of Guitar World magazine, and has spawned a range of signature-series musical instruments and instructional material hosted by members of the band.
The November 2016 release of their fourth studio effort, The Madness of Many, was followed with a lengthy world tour during which the band produced its first live concert recording. In May 2018, more than nine years after their self-titled debut set the wheels in motion, the band again lent its name to an album. Animals As Leaders - Live 2017 shows the group hard at work—effortlessly though it may seem—in their relentless pursuit of musical innovation. The beast certainly shows no signs of slowin.