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Animals as Leaders

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Animals as Leaders
Animals as Leaders in 2014 L–R: Matt Garstka, Javier Reyes, Tosin Abasi
Animals as Leaders in 2014
L–R: Matt Garstka, Javier Reyes, Tosin Abasi
Background information
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
Years active2007–present
Past members

Animals as Leaders is an American instrumental progressive metal band from Los Angeles, California. Since 2012, the band has consisted of Tosin Abasi (lead guitar), Javier Reyes (rhythm guitar), and Matt Garstka (drums), having originated in 2007 as a solo project by Abasi. They are a prominent band within the djent scene.[4] Prosthetic Records released the band's eponymous debut album in 2009. They have since released the albums Weightless (2011), The Joy of Motion (2014), The Madness of Many (2016), and Parrhesia (2022).


Animals as Leaders formed after guitarist Tosin Abasi's previous metalcore band, Reflux, disbanded.[5][6] The heavy metal record label Prosthetic Records saw Abasi's guitar work and asked him to create a solo album for them. Abasi initially declined, feeling such an endeavor would be "...egotistical and unnecessary."[7] Abasi decided to take a year off to study music, as he felt he was unable to reach his peak at guitar playing. After Abasi had completed his course, he took up the label on the offer of a solo project. The name Animals as Leaders was inspired by Daniel Quinn's 1992 novel Ishmael, which addresses anthropocentrism. Abasi coined the name as a reminder "that we're all essentially animals".[7]

Javier Reyes playing guitar

The project's first album, Animals as Leaders, was recorded in early 2008. Abasi recorded most guitar and bass tracks on the album; a few guitar solos, drums and various synthesized effects were programmed by engineer Misha Mansoor of Periphery and Haunted Shores.[7] The album was released on April 28, 2009, by Prosthetic Records.[8]

In 2010, the band toured extensively, including the 2010 Summer Slaughter Tour with such acts as Decapitated, Vital Remains, Carnifex, The Faceless, All Shall Perish, The Red Chord, Cephalic Carnage, Veil of Maya, and Decrepit Birth and since Summer Slaughter has toured with more mainstream acts like Circa Survive and Dredg. They uploaded a non-album digital single called Wave of Babies to iTunes later that year.

The band embarked on a tour alongside Circa Survive, Dredg, and Codeseven from mid-2010 to early 2011, and in early 2011, toured alongside Underoath, Thursday, and A Skylit Drive to promote Underoath's latest release, Ø (Disambiguation).

On May 26, 2011, Animals as Leaders took part in a Red Cross benefit show titled "Josh Barnett Presents The Sun Forever Rising" at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, California. Shortly thereafter, they headlined their first tour, which included opening acts Intronaut, Dead Letter Circus, Last Chance to Reason, and Evan Brewer. On July 27, 2011, during a show at the Masquerade in Atlanta, Georgia, Tosin Abasi announced that they were recording the show for a live DVD.

The band was billed as the first support of Between the Buried and Me on their European tour in September 2011, also with the French band Doyle. That same year, as a follow-up to their self-titled album, the band released their LP, entitled Weightless, on November 8 in the United States,[9] November 4 in Europe, and November 7 in the UK.[10]

Tosin Abasi in 2011

In Spring 2012, Animals as Leaders embarked on a headlining tour of Europe, then returned to North America to open for Thrice. Navene Koperweis left Animals as Leaders that March. Prosthetic Records then announced on March 23 that drummer Matt Garstka would join them on tour.[11]

"We see nothing but great potential with Matt, and look forward to performing with him on the upcoming tours," Abasi says. "We feel very excited for the future of AAL, which is brighter than ever. I'm beyond excited for our fans to hear some of the new music we already have brewing for the future!" [12]

On November 28, 2012, Misha Mansoor, the producer for the first Animals as Leaders album, announced that he had begun writing riffs with Tosin Abasi, intending to start recording on their third album.[13] Two days later, it was confirmed that Mansoor was recording the band after the completion of two songs.[14] On February 14, 2014, the band announced their third studio album, The Joy of Motion, which was released via Sumerian Records on March 25, 2014.

On February 2, 2016, they revealed on Instagram that they were working on their fourth studio album. On September 22, they revealed that the album would be titled The Madness of Many, and would be released on November 11, 2016. On September 30, they released a single from the album, "The Brain Dance". On October 18, they released another song from the album, "Arithmophobia". This song features extensive use of odd-metered rhythm, hence its name.

On September 1, 2021, the band released "Monomyth" as a single. It was elected by Loudwire as the 20th-best metal song of 2021.[15]

On November 18, 2021, the band announced their fifth studio album titled Parrhesia and released a single from the album, "The Problem of Other Minds." The album was released on March 25, 2022.


Animals as Leaders is a progressive metal band whose style draws from progressive rock, jazz fusion, funk, and electronica.[3] Drummer Matt Garstka has called the band's style "metal fusion".[16] They are a prominent band within the djent scene.[4] The band is notable for its absence of a bass player, who is "replaced" by two eight-string guitarists.[3]

Band members[edit]

Abasi and Reyes are also members of the supergroup TRAM, alongside former Mars Volta wind instrumentalist Adrián Terrazas-González and Suicidal Tendencies drummer Eric Moore. Reyes also has his own side project, Mestis.





Studio albums[edit]

List of albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales

Hard Rock

Animals as Leaders
  • Released: November 4, 2011
  • Label: Prosthetic
92 19 7
The Joy of Motion
  • Released: March 24, 2014
  • Label: Sumerian
23 4 2
The Madness of Many
  • Released: November 11, 2016
  • Label: Sumerian
56 6 1
  • Released: March 25, 2022
  • Label: Sumerian
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart


  • "Wave of Babies" (2010)
  • "Monomyth" (2021)
  • "The Problem of Other Minds" (2021)
  • "Gordian Naught" (2022)


  • "Animals as Leaders – Encore Edition" (2015)

Live albums[edit]

  • "Animals as Leaders – Live 2017" (2018)


Year Title Director
2010 "CAFO" Scott Hansen
2011 "Isolated Incidents" Jay Wynne
2012 "Weightless" (unreleased) Scott Hansen
2014 "Lippincott" Jay Wynne
2015 "Physical Education" Cameron Alexander
2017 "Cognitive Contortions" Randy Edwards
2021 "Monomyth" Telavaya Reynolds
"The Problem of Other Minds"
2022 "Micro-Agressions" Marie Alyse Rodriguez
2023 "Red Miso" Nicolas Kadima


  1. ^ a b "Animals as Leaders | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  2. ^ McMahan, Mike (May 2, 2019). "Animals As Leaders' Show at the Aztec Dazzled With Cutting-Edge Instrumental Prowess" Archived June 9, 2021, at the Wayback Machine. San Antonio Current. Euclid Media Group. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Varga, George (May 28, 2017). "Animals As Leaders brings mettle to its progressive and diverse style of metal". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 21, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Angle, Brad (July 23, 2011). "Interview: Meshuggah Guitarist Fredrik Thordendal Answers Reader Questions". Guitar World. Future US. Archived from the original on March 21, 2015. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  5. ^ Politte, Elliott. "Tosin Abasi: 8-String Animal". Guitar Edge.
  6. ^ Buchta, Mikey (February 14, 2011). "Interview with Animals as Leaders guitarist Tosin Abasi". Pure Grain Audio. Retrieved August 13, 2015. Animals as Leaders is a progressive instrumental metal band Tosin created after the breakup of his previous band Reflux.
  7. ^ a b c Allyn, Bobby (February 9, 2009). "Q&A: Animals As Leaders." Washington City Paper.
  8. ^ "Animals as Leaders Unveils Artwork, Track Listing for Debut Album Archived October 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine" (March 20, 2009). Blabbermouth.net.
  9. ^ "Animals As Leaders Set November Release Date For New Album "Weightless"" Theprp.com
  10. ^ "Animals as Leaders: new album release date announced". got-djent.com. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  11. ^ "Prosthetic Records Announces New Drummer For 2012 Tour", YouTube
  12. ^ "ANIMALS AS LEADERS PREP FOR EUROPEAN TOUR, MESHUGGAH DATES". Prosthetic Records. March 23, 2012. Archived from the original on June 23, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  13. ^ Mansoor, Misha. "Writing new Animals As Leaders riffs with Tosin Abasi. Recording starts tomorrow!". Facebook. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  14. ^ Mansoor, Misha. "2 days into writing/recording with Tosin Abasi for the new Animals As Leaders album and we have 2 songs down, making good progress! Can't wait for you guys to hear this stuff!!". Facebook. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  15. ^ Al-Sharif, Rabab; DiVita, Joe; Hartmann, Graham; Richardson, Jake; Trapp, Philip; Summan, Yasmine (December 6, 2021). "The 35 Best Metal Songs of 2021". Loudwire. Townsquare Media. Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  16. ^ Lentz, Andrew (June 16, 2014). "Matt Garstka: Let's Get Technical with Animals As Leaders". DRUM!. Retrieved August 19, 2022.
  17. ^ "Animals as Leaders Album Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Animals as Leaders Album Chart History: Top Rock Albums". Billboard.
  19. ^ "Animals as Leaders Album Chart History: Hard Rock Albums". Billboard.
  20. ^ "Upcoming Releases". Hits Daily Double. HITS Digital Ventures. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016.

External links[edit]