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Yakuza - Beyul (Profound Lore Records)

By: Matthew Bowling

[8/10] Despite being aware of Yakuza for the better part of the last decade. it was only when the opening saxophone-laced din of “Oil ad Water” greeted my ears that I actually listened to the band for the first time. Left-field absurdity from my probably favorite metal city in the US (Chicago GO!), Beyul is likely to sate the long-term fans (I’m not sure, I’ve never met one and I know how finicky fans of anything can be) and much more so anyone looking for a sludge-like entity draped in all the accoutrements of the and exotic.

Psychedelia-infused trance-outs, engagements in fury, melodic bottom outs and all the fuzz in the world – they’re all here and spread liberally across the unfortunately brief 38 minutes that constitute Beyul. The most consistent middle ground in the album’s sound exists somewhere amidst all these various extremes of expression, in the end something akin to a more condensed Minsk when presenting their most direct face (it shouldn’t be surprising, Sanford Parker at the helm as he seems to be with many Chicago-based releases). Expression through the marriage of disparate ideas remains ever-present and ever-fascinating, the monster cuts “Man Is Machine” and “Fire Temple and Beyond” each resonating with conflicting streams of intention and melodic inclination, ideas galore and melded in unorthodox ways. The unraveling that occurs early on (and several times thereafter) in “Man Is Machine” is at times fucking harrowing.

Tiny excursion “Species” is an outright full on assault on the senses that stands in particular contrast to the rest of the album and is fortunately brief, for the band consistently showcases itself as being stronger engaging the exploratory over the violent. An engagement in listening long overdue on my part, a royal shame emerges on my end from my lack of exposure to the band and their avant-garde absurdity before now. Decidedly not for everyone (…and likely not for anyone who isn’t a fan of the Chicago clique), for anyone else willing to venture into the unknown and see what awaits in the realm of metal married with jazz underpinnings and all the exploration it brings, Beyul will see you fulfilled.

www.yakuzadojo.com

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