Even for a subgenre where technical virtuosity is a necessity, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better-played album in 2022 than Animal As Leader’s fifth effort. Matt Garstka’s drumming is tight and subtly expressive while eight-string wizards Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes underline their status as bona fide, modern-day guitar heroes. Shorn of vocals, it’s up to the leads to add emotional heft to the labyrinthine arrangements, and Parrhesia achieves a tangible resonance. The electronic blips and blurs that erupt from Red Miso and Micro-Aggressions’ dense molten cores add a sense of character, while the tension and frustration coursing through Thoughts And Prayers and Gordian Naught are palpable.
(Image: © Sumerian Records)