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Animals as Leaders At Summer Slaughter

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Tosin Abasi is perhaps one of the most innovative, progressive guitarists in metal music today, so when I went to the Summer Slaughter festival just to see his band, Animals as Leaders, perform live, my expectations could not have been higher.

Arriving at Sound Academy at 7:20 pm, I walked past many who were sitting along the entrance hallway, which made me wonder if the energy had already died out—the show had started more than four hours earlier, after all.

I stood at the back, where a large chunk of the crowd seemed to be, listening to Norma Jean perform, who were followed by Periphery, a band with a similar sound to Animals as Leaders.

Knowing that many in the crowd had come to see Animals as Leaders, Spencer Sotelo, the lead singer of Periphery, took it upon himself to get the people amped up for the band that were to play after them: “Are you guys ready for Animals as Leaders?!” he shouted between songs, to which the crowd raised their arms and screamed, and I could already feel the energy building.

By 8:45, with Periphery having wrapped up their performance, the anticipation had reached its peak level, with cheers of “Tosin! Tosin! Tosin!” piercing the air.

By then I had moved closer to the stage, not only wanting a better view, but also to feel the energy. So there I was, standing at the edge of what was to be the mosh pit, a volcano that was about to erupt, when Abasi came out on stage, his signature 8-string Ibanez hanging on his shoulder, its light gray body like the moon reflecting all the light in the hall.

And before long, the tone of his guitar, colourful and sonorous, was echoing around the venue, ringing in a sweet, soft melody that was not the most metallic, yet was a fitting start to the band’s set, showing Abasi’s ability to think outside the box and construct the perfect musical experience.

But it was ‘An Infinite Regression’, perhaps the band’s most idiosyncratic composition, that really got the crowd going.

As Abasi started the song with its unmistakable melody, the mosh pit came to a complete halt, emptying out as it widened, forcing everyone behind it to move farther back. And like everyone was controlled by the band onstage, as soon as the guitar built up towards the drop, without a word, the entire mosh pit pushed forward and erupted, its energy engulfing the entire hall, as everyone jumped in frenzy.

But perhaps the one downside of Animals as Leader’s performance was how short it was, as less than an hour after the band had started, their set came to an end, leaving the crowd chanting for more

+ Abdullah Alhomoud

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