The Sound of Animals Fighting - We Must Become the Change We Want to See DVD / Tiger & the Duke [reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Sound of Animals Fighting

We Must Become the Change We Want to See 📀 / Tiger & the Duke [reissue] (2007)

Equal Vision

With these two items in their discography, the Sound of Animals Fighting's entire career thus far has now been properly documented: the reissue and the DVD were all that was "missing." In any event, they're both fairly fine pieces that offer a more convincing angle into the project's being, and seem to help craft a better understanding of just what they do.

We Must Become the Change We Want to See is the band's first DVD, and is mostly a hit. It features the band's only performance, from August 2006 at San Diego's House of Blues. The audio and video is absolutely perfect; you can hear a little bit of the crowd, but it's just enough to where it never interferes with the crisp sound. The stage is almost always well-lit, but it has to be: At any given time there's at least half a dozen people on stage. Most of the time this includes vocalist Anthony Green (Circa Survive), guitarist Matt Embree (Rx Bandits), guitarist Steve Choi (Rx Bandits), bassist Joe Troy (Rx Bandits), and drummer Chris Tsagakis (Rx Bandits). Various vocalists come on to either join Green or take up frontman duties.

The Rx Bandits crew all take fairly relaxed stances on stage and tend to let the singer have the spotlight -- which is perfect, because they nail every note. Green's stage moves are humorous and bizarre, as he's usually shaking and slinking around -- same goes for Days Away's Keith Goodwin, who has a nearly identical free-spirited vibe when he takes the mic for his song or two. Green is accompanied at one point by the similarly-pitched Craig Owens of Chiodos, and Owens' presence is generally kind of annoying with his clichéd, terribly forced flamboyancy on stage.

Other than that mild annoyance, it's an entertaining performance. The band run through their four original songs (Acts 1-4), three of those coming in a row early on, and seven songs from Lover, The Lord Has Left Us. What may have sounded excruciatingly unlistenable on record at first is much more mesmerizing live, and even though there's some astoundingly odd occurrences on stage that could be labeled as gimmicks (a projection screen showing the entirety of "Metropolis" as the show goes on; someone putting the finishing touches on a painting; characters in various regalia [cat-costumed somersaulters, dancing long-beaked creatures in grim reaper-style black hooded outfits]), it helps create one supremely strange display.

Bonus features merely include a photo gallery, but the main performance itself is strong enough to overcome the lack of much else.

As for the reissue, it's somewhat justified: Tiger and the Duke went out of print in late 2006, so Equal Vision picked it up and re-released it with all-new artwork, remixed and remastered versions of the original Acts, redone interludes and remixes of various songs off Lover, The Lord (a section titled Postlude: Lover, The Remixes). It pushes the whole thing to a hefty 70 minutes, but everything looks or sounds good. The original songs themselves sound as spectacular as ever, with Green's insane shout/scream letting loose over noodly, technical, Mars Volta-inspired stop-start licks in a louder format. The artwork is less literary looking and more cartoon-y, but this is sort of ironic since the new liner notes contain a peculiar short story. The redone interludes are much, much more captivating than the original release's, as it occasionally adds some vocal samples, cool loops, and a more humanized feel despite retaining each's electronic base. The remixes, done mostly by Technology and Portugal. The Man (with the Optimist, Evol Intent and a live version here as well), have the same benefit as the DVD -- they actually make the original Lover, The Lord songs more listenable, as the vocal melodies actually become easier to pick up on and more enjoyable to listen to unfold over eclectic, stylistic mish-mashing; despite inherently experimental songs being experimented on further, it almost acts as a sort of canceling out. Standout "My Horse Must Lose" actually comes off like something Dntel would do, while "This Heat in Dub" uses keyboards to create what the song implies: a dub feel.

Complaints are hard to come by with these companion pieces from the Sound of Animals Fighting. The DVD is picture perfect and well-performed while Tiger helps correct flaws that may have hampered their past material.

TRAILER for We Must Become the Change We Want to See

Act 4: You Don't Need a Witness
Skullflower: Sorcerer's Mix