The fourth Yakuza album, produced by Minsk bassist Sanford Parker, is more psychedelic and tribal than its predecessors. In some ways, it sounds like a meeting ground between the Chicago group's previous work and their producer's band (on whose album The Ritual Fires of Abandonment Yakuza frontman Bruce Lamont played saxophone). When the band decides to return to thrashing savagery, though, as on "Praying for Asteroids" and "Steal the Fire," they're as capable as ever of boosting the listener's heart rate with chainsaw riffing and Lamont doing his best imitation of Brutal Truth vocalist Kevin Sharp. For the most part, though, Lamont croons as the band drifts and throbs, and the sound suits the general spiritual tone of the album ("Tear out your eyes so you can see/Tear out your heart so you can feel," he sings/chants on "Egocide"). At some point, guest percussionists Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang, from the band's Chicago hometown, show up, but they're hard to pick out of the overall roar. And anyhow, Yakuza's unique artistic identity is firmly enough established on Transmutations that guests don't change things one way or another.
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AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman