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Yakuza - Transmutations CD (album) cover

TRANSMUTATIONS

Yakuza

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.38 | 15 ratings

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Bonnek
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 'Transmutations' is Yakuza's 4th studio album and one that further explores their mix of hardcore metal with jazz and psychedelic influences. The only thing that seems to be missing now is memorable songwriting, and while I can enjoy the intensity of the performance and the uniqueness of their sound, a lot of the material here doesn't seem to cut it for me.

It starts pretty weak with 'Meat Curtains' where Matt McClelland mimics the whine of Ozzy in his clean vocals, but he misses the sickening evilness and Ozzy's knack for catchiness. And it's again the vocals that remain the main issue on 'Egocide', which suffers from vocal melodies that are too monotone. The music is great however. On 'Congestive Art-Failure' a vocoder is used to help out but it doesn't help. The track is mainly brutal, just like 'Praying For Asteroids'. None of both does much for me.

With 'Raus' the album finally starts showing the qualities of this band. The clean vocals work better here, evoking a certain Joy Division 'atmosphere'. Most of the track remains in quiet post-rock areas, with the saxophone providing a delicate jazzy touch. The track flows into the heavy outburst of 'Steal The Fire', showing that different 'ugly' face of the band again, and this time it works due to the strong music and emotional tension that preceded.

The album continues with the dissonant and chaotic 'The Blinding', which rivals The Swans in disconcerting and nauseating doom. It's wilder, more experimental and psychotic then the other tracks but quite astounding. I don't think I could handle an entire album of this but here it works. 'Existence Into Oblivian' is more typical, with melodic vocals dueling against brutal growls and busy tribal drumming. The psychedelic break near the end is magnificent.

'Perception Management' integrates the different aspects of Yakuza's sound, post-rock, jazz, psychedelica, sludge-metal, it all comes together and as unlikely as the combination may sound, Yakuza can make this sound natural and organic. It's without their real strength. Unfortunately, the album ends as it started, with 2 songs featuring less alluring melodies and - to my ears - rather whiny vocals.

All ingredients that make Yakuza great are in place but the songwriting is very uneven for me. The main body of the album is great, but I don't care much for the opening and closing tracks. The next one would be the real deal. This is one that only fans should seek out.

Bonnek | 3/5 |

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