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Yakuza Samsara

Yakuza - Samsara
01. Cancer of Industry MP3
02. Plecostomus
03. Monkeytail
04. Transmission Ends.Signal Lost
05. Dishonor
06. 20 Bucks
07. Exterminator
08. Just Say Know
09. Glory Hole
10. Back to the Mountain
2006 Prosthetic Records

Reviewed by: Ash Levitt   //   Published: 3/5/2006

Bands like Yakuza are always difficult to compartmentalize because of the large number of disparate sounds and influences heard within their music. It's kind of odd how whenever a band like this mixes any kind of music with the genre of metal, then that is where its home is from then on. However, anyone familiar with Yakuza knows that ideas like this are about as fair as calling Candiria a straight up metal band. Regardless, it's probably a good thing we won't ever see Yakuza albums in the World music section of record stores. Chicago's native sons Yakuza have unleashed their newest album Samsara through Prosthetic records much in the same vein as the previous full-length Way of the Dead and smaller releases before that. Experimentalmetalfreejazzworldambientstuff.

In eastern religious and philosophical paths, Samsara is the idea of constant rebirth and suffering, which one's goal is to ultimately escape. Some literally translate it as "wandering on." Therefore, similar to the aforementioned Candiria or later era material by Japanese hell raisers Sigh, Yakuza aren't afraid to wander in their musical journey and do so often throughout the course of a record. It very much requires the listener to have an open mind about not just musical ideas, but conceptual ideas as well, because listening to a Yakuza album with full attention is likely to take you places other albums rarely go.

For example, the album begins with the brash sound of a saxophone weaving freely through harmonic and melodic minor inflections that is supported by tribal sounding drums. The overall feeling is something close to free jazz meeting world music that lulls the listener into a state of calm. Then the metal kicks in and any semblance of peace is shattered. The heaviness is produced well courtesy of Matt Bayles, and combined with dual vocals, the listener is thrown into an aural onslaught. The rest of the album visits many different musical ideas such as various other free jazz influenced sections, back to more metal, to expansive sections explored with clean vocals, cello, and piano.

Some parts of Samsara are definitely stronger than others. Therefore, it's hard to give the album as a whole one holistic rating. Instead, it might be better to think of the parts separately. The metal parts are sometimes disappointing. While heavy, emotive, and slightly unique in terms of applying them with irregular time signatures, they are not outstanding in the sense of the individual riffs themselves. Therefore, I might give the metal aspects of Samsara a 6 or 7 out of 10, whereas I might give the more experimental elements an 8 or 9 out of 10. The latter elements seem to evidence much more passion, conviction, and creativity than the heavier parts. In the end, however, it's still one record.

Bottom Line: Yakuza are truly a unique musical element that might not be for everyone. Some people might not care for the additional stylistic elements or musical wandering of the band, whereas this might be the exact thing that draws in other listeners. Regardless, Samsara needs to be listened to carefully from beginning to end before any decisions are made.

anonymous   posted 1/12/2007 9:37:48 AM
suck my dck
wizardsbeard_   posted 3/9/2006 7:41:27 AM
"Regardless, Samsara needs to be listened to carefully from beginning to end before any decisions are made." Unlike most records, which I can review without listening to.
DenyThisFlesh_   posted 3/8/2006 9:58:05 AM
The mp3 sounds pretty cool. I don't know if I would like a whole album of songs like that, but that was a cool song. My only complaint was the guy doing the higher yelling vocals. The other vocalist sounded really good though.
hxc0148_   posted 3/7/2006 9:14:02 AM
great band...great album...good review.
xtroyx_   posted 3/6/2006 12:47:29 PM
that mp3 was pretty good. i want to hear more of this band.

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