There was plenty to like about Chicago progressive-metal quartet Yakuza’s 2007 album Transmutations, but I had reservations. As I wrote in my review at the time: “When Yakuza hits the bulls eye, they bludgeon … What happens when they miss? It’s not that they whiff, they wander.” I also mentioned that, as far as the tracklist went, there was too much of a steady alternation between slow, fast, slow, fast. I bring up these past complaints because as suspected after they blew me away with new material at SXSW, on their darker fifth album, Of Seismic Consequence, they hit the bullseye — then don’t slip. Without a doubt, it’s their strongest statement to date. The pacing feels more natural, not so calculated: Songs ebb and flow easily into each other. You don’t just admire the eclecticism — jazz, grind, prog, etc. — you enjoy it. The expansive moments (i.e. the moody 8-minute “Be That As It May,” its smoky 11-minute neighbor “Farewell To The Flesh”) are truly expansive. The brutal parts, yeah, are more anguished and brutal. And, yes, frontman Bruce Lamont still wields his saxophone like a bad-ass. If you’re unfamiliar, don’t worry about Kenny G-core: Remember, he contributed those black metal sax parts to Nachtmystium’s Assassins closer “Seasick.” (And he brings along his vocal cords for Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. II.) All that said, “Stones And Bones” is a good introduction to the band’s new focus.
Of Seismic Consequence is out 6/8 via Profound Lore.