By Jason Wellwood
Okay, first off, thank you Yakuza for bringing the saxophone back to metal! How many bands can claim to play the saxophone in their music and have it actually add to the song? I’ve only heard it work for Yakuza and Ihsahn, and I’m guessing Ihsahn took his cue from Yakuza, but I can’t really back that up. In any case, Yakuza are back with their fifth official outing and they’ve definitely outdone themselves here. The band has crafted an almost perfect blend of light and darkness on Of Seismic Consequence, mixing the heavy elements of the band seamlessly with both the lighter and more experimental elements. Even though this might be the darkest Yakuza record thus far, it’s also the most song oriented. It seems that Yakuza has focused on crafting their free form jazz metal jams into more succinct pieces this time around, which allows for a more palatable record. Palatable that is, for folks who found their previous work too challenging to listen to. As usual, some purists might be upset by the direction Yakuza has taken on this record, but as a fan of the earlier work, I think the changes are incredibly well done and follow a natural progression for the band. In fact, on top of Bruce Lamont’s amazing saxophone work, there is also the fact that most of the singing is done in a ‘clean’ voice. Shocking!
Don’t despair though, all ye who worship the angular jam: there is enough off kilter time signatures and left-field time changes to keep you all enthralled. Farewell to the Flesh, for example, clocks in at just over 11 minutes which will definitely challenge the casual metal listener but the doom vibe mixed with Lamont’s vocals and the stunning guitar work by Matt McClelland will captivate even those of us with the most severe ADD. That leads into the galloping “Testing The Waters” which sounds like a new twist on traditional metal yet again. Simply put, this might just be the best Yakuza album yet and it may also be the record that pulls them in a whole new legion of fans. For the purists, or music geeks out there, consider this to be Yakuza’s “Blue Train”. A brilliant record that might be their least angular, but still retains all the amazing elements you love about the band. Epic would be the best word for this one.
Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.