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Released: 8th November 2011

Jeff Kent

jeff kent

"Too many notes...". Emperor Joseph II said this in the film 'Amadeus' about Mozart's music. To be fair, he also called it "genius". Mozart was taken aback by this, but then regained his composure and turned the tables on the good Emperor by asking exactly which notes he should remove. He, of course, had no answer because he was not a musician...or a genius.


Instrumental prog Metal played with an insane amount of dexterity and technique often elicits the same response. On first listen, one might say these things about Animals As Leaders. They might praise the skill the band exhibits, but at the same time dismiss it as noodly wankery. But if you listen to the whole album, you'll find this simply isn't the case.

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Sure these guys can play circles around most musicians, but they also have a knack for writing catchy melodies that you'll find yourself humming to yourself long after the music has stopped.

This is the second album from Washington DC's Animals As Leaders, a band that was built around the guitar playing of Tosin Abasi. The first album was originally conceived as a solo recording done after his earlier band Reflux had fallen apart, but evolved into the band that exists today. Abasi played all the guitar and most of the bass parts on the self-titled debut, but wanted the next record to be more of a collaborative effort.

Enter Javier Reyes on guitar and Navene Koperweis on drums and you have the band that recorded 'Weightless'. Now, if you were paying attention, you may have noticed that Tosin plays guitar, as does Javier, so you're asking yourself: who plays bass? Between the two of them they have sixteen strings, so they've got that covered...and then some.

The other things added into the mix are a healthy dose of electronica-inspired drum beats and guitar effects. They give the music a futuristic sound that's not altogether out of place when the musicians appear to be from another planet.

The first album featured lots of ultra smooth guitar lines, and it had more of a jazz fusion attack that was easy on the ears (think Stanley Jordan or Stanley Clarke). 'Weightless' ups the metallic ante and mixes in more than a little Meshuggah with its downtuned chug. That's not to say there's no jazz element to 'Weightless'. 'To Lead You To An Overwhelming Question' has a particularly jazz-inspired section that surfaces out of some of the fastest and heaviest playing on the album. It's little surprises like this that keep you on your toes while listening...with your ears...are you following this?

There's so much to take in here that you'll find yourself playing and replaying 'Weightless' for weeks and never getting bored. If you enjoy this kind of instrumental prog Metal, you should also check out their label mates Scale The Summit, who have also released two albums on Prosthetic. The first band that came to mind when I heard this, though, was the Sean Malone-led Gordian Knot. Each of these bands plays just the right amount of matter what anyone says.


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Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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