Release Date: Oct 16, 2012
Record label: Profound Lore
Chicago, IL's Yakuza are known as "avant-garde metal," continually experimenting with the progressive metal genre by incorporating jazz and world music influences. But with their latest offering, Beyul, they take the notion of avant-garde a step further, or maybe backwards? The record features a prominent '70s rock vibe throughout, even with the layers of instruments not typically heard in the genre, as on opener "Oil and Water," which features a heavy use of saxophone and hand percussion, exhibiting Middle Eastern flourishes. The otherworldly "Man is Machine" is the main highlight, featuring eight-and-a-half minutes of blazing guitar riffs, melodious leads and a vast array of rhythms, while Bruce Lamont's unpredictable vocal range rises and falls with the cadence of the music.
At the start of "Lotus Array", the final stand of Beyul, the latest album by Chicago heavy hybridizers Yakuza, the drums plod through a trance, and the saxophone unfurls an exotic melody. An electric guitar creeps into the mix, each note decaying between the patter. Putting down his horn, Bruce Lamont begins to paint an apocalyptic scene with his sterling baritone: "The chaos is calmed/ The end has come/ Time begins anew." He pauses for a moment to let the music gather beneath him.
Chicago’s Yakuza fall under the metal umbrella, but if you were to isolate passages of tracks from their new disc, Beyul, that word might not fall anywhere in the discussion. Vocalist Bruce Lamont doesn’t sound like your traditional metal vocalist, instead leaning closer to hardcore or even grunge. Plus, he plays the saxophone, so there are mournful and wailing horn passages scattered throughout the album.