Artist of the Week: Animals as Leaders

Russell Finelsen, Staff Writer, Assistant Editor, Sports Editor

Animals as Leaders started their band in 2007. Since then, they have been one of the best instrumental progressive metal bands and are not looking back anytime soon.

Animals as Leaders was formed after guitarist Tosin Abasi’s previous group, technical metalcore band Reflux, dissolved. After the disband, Abasi was asked by metal record label Prosthetic Records to create a solo album. However, Abasi refused at first, saying that doing it would be “egotistical and unnecessary.” Abasi then went off the music radar for a year to study the music landscape and the guitar. After this, Abasi took on the project with much gusto after his class with music.

He named his new project Animals as Leadersand it recorded a self-titled album in early 2008. Abasi recorded the majority of the guitar and bass tracks, and the track was released in 2009.

The project started with Tosin Abasi as guitarist and Chebon Littlefield at the bass and keyboard. Littlefield left in 2008. The following year, fellow guitarist Javier Reyes and drummer Matt Halpern joined Abasi. However, Halpern’s tenure was less than a year, and he was replaced at the drums by Navene Koperweis. In 2012, Koperweis left, and he was replaced by drummer Matt Garstka. As of today, the band consists of Abasi and Reyes at guitar, and Garstka at drums.

2010 was a touring year for the group. The band was a part of the 2010 Summer Slaughter Tour, which included Decapitated, Vital Remains, and Carnifex, among others. In the middle of the year, Animals as Leaders started another tour with Circa Survive, Dredg, and Codeseven, which ended in 2011. They got right back on the touring circuit, though, and the band did a tour with Underoath, Thursday, and A Skylit Drive.

After a Red Cross benefit show (“Josh Barnett Presents The Sun Forever Rising”) in May 2011, Animals as Leaders got their first headline tour, where they had opening acts with Intronaut, Dead Letter Circus, Last Chance to Reason, and Evan Brewer. Later in 2011, the band went on a tour with Between the Buried and Me and Doyle. Then, in March 2012, the band opened for Thrice.

The group has released one single and three albums. Their lone single was released in 2010, and called “Wave of Babies.” Their albums include Animals as Leaders, released in 2009; Weightless, released in 2011; and The Joy of Motion, which was released last year.

The group has also released five videos. “CAFO” was released in 2010, while “Isolated Incidents” was released in 2011. Though “Weightless” was unreleased in 2012, and there were no videos made in 2013, the band came back strong in 2014 with “Lippincott.” Just this year, the group has already released “Physical Education.”

Though they originated in Washington, D.C., they are known around the country and Europe as a great instrumental progressive metal band with their jazz fusion and djent musical styles.