Fresh off of the release of their latest full-length The Madness of Many, Washington DC’s progressive metal face-melters Animals As Leaders are in the midst of a headlining run in North America. They are accompanied on this tour by fellow instrumental metallers Intervals and Plini, both of which are solo-acts—with Intervals being the brainchild of Aaron Marshall. Fans attending this tour will notice that Plini and Intervals are sporting identical lineups featuring the same touring members along with Marshall and Plini sitting in with each other’s bands. In light of this shared lineup the bands are selling humorous shirts that say “Plintervals.” We caught up with the tour as it hit a crowded Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom in New York City on Thursday, December 1st.
Australian shredder Plini (along with Aaron Marshall from Intervals) kicked things off with a 6-song set that showcased 3 new tracks off of his new album Handmade Cities, including the title track as well as “Electric Sunrise” and “Cascade.” The audience was enraptured from start to finish, ranging from head-bobbing to headbanging along with his music. While instrumental metal music definitely is more of a niche genre, Plini is a rising star amongst fans of heavy, progressive music—this tour is sure to only solidify that status further.
After a brief break, the band returned, with Intervals’ mastermind Marshall taking center stage as they kicked into the first three tracks of his most recent release, 2015’s The Shape of Colour. While Animals As Leaders are definitely the kings of instrumental progressive metal, Intervals are probably the next most well-respected act in the genre—and for good reason. Aaron Marshall’s musicianship combined with his skillful songwriting has created some of the most mind-bogglingly technical yet catchy music in the genre—second perhaps only to the night’s headliner. I was hoping he would play some tracks from 2013’s Ephemeral, which featured vocal accompaniment from former vocalist Mike Semesky, but alas this material was skipped over in favor of tracks from his 2012 release In Time. Marshall and his cohorts put on a killer set nonetheless, at the very least warming up the faces to ready them for the melting that would occur during Animals As Leaders’ set.
At last, the night’s closing act, Animals As Leaders took to the stage to the opening notes of “Arithmophobia,” the opening track of their latest release. What ensued was a perfectly executed display of expert musicianship from two of the best guitarists in metal—the legendary Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes, and one of the best drummers in metal Matt Garstka. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing this trio on two prior occasions, and yet again the band failed to disappoint (I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many dumbfounded expressions in one venue). As the tour is in support of their latest full-length, the set was heavy with new material, but several fan-favorites from their past albums also made it in, including “Physical Education” and “Ka$cade” from 2014’s The Joy of Motion, “Do Not Go Gently” from 2011’s Weightless, and “Cafo” from 2009’s self-titled record. While Plini and Intervals can certainly shred, no one can upstage Abasi and Reyes—those two are in a league of their own. The Madness of Many Tour is set to continue shredding its way across North America through December 17th, check out the remaining tour dates below!
Animals As Leaders
You can check out more of Nathan’s work at www.nkatsphoto.com.