In this current generation of music is it well agreed upon that the soul of a record can easily be drowned out by technology or even technicality. It’s so easy for a band to over polish their work. Sure Joy of Motion may have a really polished sound, but have by no means has it lost its soul. Animals as Leaders dive in and out of genres seamlessly.
From Post Rock to Progressive Metal (or Djent, if you must) to even letting Tosin Abasi’s strong jazz influence come through. They bring genres together without forcing it. These guys know how to make a 180 without making you feel like you’ve just been slapped in the face. What is really heavy will just as soon drop you off in the middle of nowhere. These guys aren’t just out to showcase their technical ability. We already know the guys can shred. Normally when you have a band that is this proficient at playing that’s what they put in the spotlight. But how far can technicality creatively take you? What the band has done so well, including here on The Joy of Motion, is not to try to wow you with their skills. They let the atmosphere take that weight and boy does it hold up.
I tend to worry about an album that proceeds something mind-blowing. How can these guys possibly follow up something like Weightless? The Joy of Motion, if nothing else, is a formidable force. Tracks like Lippincott take you to an erratic place, somewhere at the dawn of time. Another Year is almost pure jazz. It’s very light and doesn’t see as much of a heavy tone. Tooth and Claw is the antithesis of that and starts off with a crunchy riff and slows back down. But don’t lull off, because it ends with a punch. Crescent starts off almost like something that you would hear from a classic video game. This track is one of the best as far as setting a certain atmosphere. Para Mexer really caught me off guard with its use of Spanish guitar. It has this dirty dancing feel to it. The album closes on a more classic Animals sound with the stellar Nephele. Rounding out what was quite the experience. When it’s over you feel satisfied. It doesn’t leave you wanting more or wishing you had time back. This album felt right, it feels like another notch in the belt of heavy metal. Today its horizons widened that much more.
What the band has done here is take a logical step forward. They didn’t make any giant leaps nor did they stay in one place, which is especially easily done in this genre. It steps out of the prog metal genre more than ever which makes it an intriguing listen. But this also leads me to the one thing that leaves this album just short of weightless. It’s not any sort of flaw with the album per se, but maybe my ear just isn’t quite tuned to jazz. Maybe my pallet just isn’t quite that eclectic. But that’s not so much a flaw in the album, if you’re into that kind of thing then this album just might be a 10/10 for you. If it’s not your thing then there’s still plenty of classic Animals as Leaders here to chew on. The band has presented a challenge here though. Not unenjoyable, but it might take one or two listens to get. I think The Joy of Motion will see some of the heavy metal guys jump ship. This isn’t a bad thing, it just means the band has pushed the envelope. It is the mark of a great creative endeavor. For this, I commend these guys on their great work of art.