Even after hundreds of shows, 15 million records sold, three GRAMMY® Award nominations including one GRAMMY® Award win for Best Metal Performance in 2022, and almost four decades together, Dream Theater continue to look ahead. Their collective gaze never wavers from the future. Instead, the progressive metal trailblazers —James LaBrie (Vocals), John Petrucci (Guitars), Jordan Rudess (Keyboards), John Myung (Bass), and Mike Mangini (Drums)—consistently explore uncharted territory with the same spirit of sonic adventurousness. On their fifteenth album, A View from the Top of the World [Inside Out Music/Sony Music], the New York quintet rush forward at full speed again with seven tracks equally steeped in articulate arrangements, groove-laden guitars, and skyscraping melodies.
Canadian progressive metal singer and guitarist Devin Townsend has been referred in the rock press as a “multi-everythingist”; in addition to being a celebrated instrumentalist, he is a composer, producer, arranger, and bandleader. While his earliest recorded appearance was as a vocalist with Steve Vai’s band on Sex & Religion, he also worked with Front Line Assembly and Skinny Puppy, and led the almost unbearably heavy extreme metal group Strapping Young Lad. His recorded solo work since 1997’s rocking sci-fi opus, Ocean Machine (Biomech), has been hotly debated in extreme music circles. He has recorded more than two dozen solo studio and live albums with a variety of musicians. His undeniably progressive, shape-shifting conceptual outfit the Devin Townsend Project is perhaps the best-known of his outlets; their albums Ki (2009), Ziltoid (Dark Matters) (2015), and Transcendence (2016), reveal Townsend delivering his ambition in unified, accessible, and provocative projects readily embraced by the metal and prog-rock communities. The solo album Empath appeared in 2019. The Puzzle/Snuggles double appeared in 2021 followed by Lightwork in 2022.
It might sound strange to associate “storytelling” with instrumental music. But ANIMALS AS LEADERS jettisoned the rules, limitations, and boundaries of conventional rock music from the start. Armed with palette-expanding eight-string guitars, rich synths, and pummeling percussive grooves, the trio is beloved by metalheads, aspiring virtuosos, jazz fanatics, and casual listeners alike. As Pitchfork observed, “Animals As Leaders have walked the tightrope between sheer technical virtuosity and actual emotional resonance.” Even without vocals, this is intimate, mythmaking music.
The band’s diverse catalog plays like multiple seasons of a superb television series, the shows with consistent themes and characters throughout their runs which evolve without sacrificing their most essential elements. Animals As Leaders began as a solo outlet for guitarist Tosin Abasi, whose creative partnership with classically trained guitarist / audio engineer Javier Reyes and Berklee-educated drummer Matt Garstka is built on a shared love of everything from fusion to technical death metal.