You don't usually see a label like Century Media give up on a band after one album. But then again, you also usually don't run across bands like Chicago jazz/prog/metal freaks YAKUZA. Harsh metal with a technical bent and distorted sax solos? Haunting mellow free-jazz pieces? In the same song? It's interesting and pretty damn cool, but it's definitely enough to send publicists and sales people into a tailspin.Commercially damned or not, YAKUZA just keep on blissing out and hammering skulls, usually within the same song, on their long-awaited second album. The first couple songs are pretty damned heavy and crushing, perhaps a statement of intent that YAKUZA is, above all else, a fine grinding metal band descended from original oddballs like NAKED CITY, BRUTAL TRUTH and NAPALM DEATH, and akin (in their more wild-eyed moments) to the likes of PIG DESTROYER. But check out "Monkeytail" for YAKUZA's schizophrenia in a nutshell – airy, ethereal jazz builds up to a metal crescendo, then pulls back again, a masterful exercise in pressure-cooking tension and release. The end result is quite a headtrip, as atmospheric as it is punishing, the soundtrack to a fucked-up film no one's had the vision to make just yet. Describing a band like YAKUZA is always kinda inadequate. If you need a frame of reference, think of the epic sprawl of MASTODON (whose Troy Sanders guests here) at their most ponderous and harrowing, with moments of NEUROSIS-like apocalyptic symphony. Then listen to a song like "20 Bucks", with its weird clean vocals and spacey verse, and have those perceptions blasted out the window as well. Your best bet is to just put on the headphones, clear your calendar of distractions, indulge in the mind-enhancing substance of your choice, and let the whole freaky thing slither into your brain from beginning to end, from the bruising grind of "Cancer of Industry" to the otherworldly "Planet Caravan" vibe of "Exterminator" to the utterly metal bludgeon of the wall of chords and thrashed-out chorus in "Just Say Know". This is extremity as art, uncompromising, dynamic, and unforgiving as an avalanche of bricks. Hopefully, the rest of the metal world can catch up to these cats in time to give "Samsara" the recognition it deserves.
To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to block users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. To report any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, please send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details.