Milco is the most Animals as Leaders-like non-Animals as Leaders project I’ve listened to, recently. The debut EP of Raymond Milco, 練馬 (Nerima), is full of bittersweet technical djent riffs, with the common thumping, tapping, and advanced chords that are often lazily called jazzy. The twenty-odd minutes of the EP are made out of intelligent composition and ingenious ideas; the songs flow more intuitively than on The Madness of Many, AAL’s latest endeavour. Of course, Ray doesn’t come near the levels of virtuosity displayed by Messrs. Abasi, Reyes, and Garstka, the skills of Milco are more than appreciable and wholly serve the purpose of the music, in that sense making him akin to the likes of Plini, where composition spearheads all. One of the downsides of 練馬 is the use of programmed drums that fail to cross that uncanny valley, but that’s no different from most solo projects and therefore we should all be more or less able to let it slide, but it’s a thing Raymond should strive to get rid of for his next efforts. In the end, 練馬 is a great new addition to your djent or progressive metal watchlist, and hopefully Milco continues to provide us with such tasty jams in the future.