Yakuza: Transmutations

By: Chris Pacifico

This is the moment. While Yakuza has spent their last two albums climbing a mountain where they've explored the abundant and exotic terrains of progressive metal and ethnic jazz fusion, acting as their own Sherpas, they have now circumstantiated their own distinct sound - a unique palette etched in stone and bound to influence future generations of bands with an open minded approach towards the aggressive music. Yakuza have reached a wide ranging plateau and Transmutations (Prosthetic) is the moment they walk across this vast wilderness of charging riffs and saxophone vapors.

The most fervent moments on last year's masterful Samsara were worldly and saw Yakuza taken over by climatic moments of artcore jitters. That said, Transmutations is their career peak. It's vehement respites are comparable to a long line of boulders crashing down a hill, pushed along in part by drummer James Staffel's geological shifts and violent storm water whoosh. Bruce Lamont's voice yaws into ethereal and loud propensities capable of adhering to whatever instrumental mood the band is tackling. A metal album one could probably meditate to, Transmutations will leave even the crunchiest granola types wrapped in emanations of bliss and enlightenment from Yakuza's eastern mirages while chutzpah headbangers can still rage on.

Deep, latent ragas spin from the instrumental and vocal progressions. The opener "Meat Curtains" is a large doom metal battering ram that crashes open the gates before segueing into the Andalusian mists of "Egocide." "Praying for Asteroids" goes on a grindcore banshee cluster assault and "Perception Management" chills down the channel where the calmest moments on the Tzadik label came from over the past few years. "Black Market Liver" floats through a thick cover of elastic droning.

Transmutations is not something that words can do justice to. It must truly be felt. Like the album or not, listeners can't deny kudos to Yakuza, not only for thinking outside of the box but for making something the listener can fully grasp that in no ways gives in to the dogmatic protocol of how and what it means to be a metal band. It's only August, but it's a fair assumption that Transmutation will make its way onto many Top 10 albums of 2007 lists.

JamBase | Chicago
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[Published on: 8/27/07]

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