Way of the Dead

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This album starts off with Tuvan throat singing, tribal drumming, and a tenor saxophone incantation that sounds like German free jazzer Peter Brötzmann in one of his more meditative moments -- and that's all just in the first minute. So in other words, you know right off that this is no ordinary metal album. But soon enough, the band shifts into an odd-time math-thrash groove that makes it equally clear that Yakuza knows how to rock, too. Through much of the album, Bruce Lamont's strained vocals give the impression that he is suffering some sort of paranoia-induced anxiety attack, but his semi-shouted vocals still carry a surprising amount of melody, which is welcome considering how many bands in this style try to get by on shouting alone; that said, his vocals are still unusual and may be an acquired taste. The rest of the band, though, sounds great -- they're obviously skilled musicians and, while at times their brainy tendencies come close to taking over, they make it clear that they're not afraid to play hard and get sweaty either. The songs veer from discordant hardcore/metalcore and stray touches of death metal to fleeting moments of spaced-out calm and, on "Obscurity," even a little bit of dueling free jazz tenor saxophone action (courtesy of Lamont and guest Ken Vandermark). That's not even mentioning the closing track, "01000011110011," a drifting, 43-minute instrumental that is longer than the rest of the songs combined. The main criticism of this album is that the band tries to pack so many ideas into such a short space (apart from the last track) that occasionally things come out sounding fragmented and slightly underdeveloped. With that in mind, this doesn't look to be Yakuza's definitive statement, but it's still way ahead of the curve compared to most of its competition.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 5:09
2 3:55
3 3:39
4 1:51
5 3:37
6 4:28
7 4:36
8 43:25
blue highlight denotes track pick