It’s probably easier to describe the music of Animals As Leaders by citing the myriad of influences that they bring to their sound. That of course is the easy way , which I will absolutely avoid. Led by guitarist Tosin Abasi, this Washington D.C. based trio “noodle like no one has noodled before” (quoted from a guy I met at the show). Backed by Javier Reyes on guitar and drummer Matt Garstka, their all-instrumental set focused mainly on their latest album, Joy of Motion, on Sumerian Records. Animals As Leaders’ jazz influenced metal can veer from completely bombastic to nearly ambient in a split second. Far from contrived, each song flows rather seamlessly from start to finish.

Also on the bill were another all instrumental band, the distinctively more metal Conquering Dystopia, a project that features Jeff Loomis (Nevermore) and Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse). Loomis and partner-in-crime Keith Merrow are both absolute masters of “The Riff.” If you don’t bang your head to this band, you are probably dead. Flowing dual leads and chugging rhythms recall the reason you like metal in the first place, and you won’t even miss the singer.

I did get there in time to see San Diego based Chon, who are definitely more from the jazz side of things. These guys turned out to be quite a surprise. This quartet has released 2 EPs, with their latest, Woohoo, available at Bandcamp.

See the full gallery by Michael Mulley here.

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