A ferocious, enigmatic innovation in modern metal
Nashville’s highly distinctive and artistic Yautja have been turning heads since their 2011 inception. Among the many reasons to appreciate Yautja, eponymous of the race of alien from Predator, is their uncompromising aggression and sensibilities. Seemingly putting their all into it, while also juggling a spry accrual of taste and palettes that color the music in dynamics, tone and even songwriting, and making it sound good, is no easy feat. Coming up on about seven years since their last full-length, and this time, making their Relapse Records debut, everything is on the table for The Lurch, which absolutely delivers.
The interesting blend and mixed bag of a blisteringly fast assortment of death-grind, sludge and even some hardcore influences are barre none on the opening track, “A Killing Joke.” A Frankenstein of sonic assault, the production is as honed-in-yet-completely-chaotic as the music is. For one, the bass is roaringly loud, the amp tone dirtier than your finest pair of Nikes thrown into a stagnant pool of sewage waste. This unrelenting nature crosses even further onto the second single, “The Spectacle,” which again utilizes the bass to help outline the trudging guitar lines and extremely tight drumming. Just the sheer amount of musical aptitude to remember and execute all the tempo changes and intricate fills and riffs is enough to be commendable in its own right.
“Wired Depths,” which bears stylistic similarities to the first single, “Tethered,” sandwiches pinpoint-accurate thrashing drums and dissonant, sludge riffs to a far more punk/hardcore lilt. On the record, oftentimes, the guitars dance the elegant dance of perpetrating a main, angular-yet-boneheaded riff with a refreshing, esoteric sheen to it. Simultaneously, they also not absolutely command the center of aural attention. The bass moves in and out of the way of the guitar lines, just barely not stepping on any toes in the passionate tango of technical death-grind that the band so beautifully executes. In being curious what a stem mix of just bass, drums and vocals would be, Yautja could totally be a duo.
And then you remember that they are a trio. Yes, the dynamic punch is strong enough to warrant a notion that the band could lose a member and still knock yer darn socks off. This is especially true in the songs where a clearer sense of sludge and slower tempos come into the mix. Such as in the huge-sounding and weirdly optimistic “Undesirables,” which builds up and off a single, sea-sick, bending guitar ostinato riff, “The Weight,” which again, builds around a guitar idea, or the simply pummeling closer, “Before The Foal.”
Aptly put, the band comes together into something that is both fast and slow at the same time. This group chemistry is greatly observed on songs, such as “Catastrophic,” which arguably features the greatest breakdown riff of the year, or on the more ‘conventional’ death-metal inspired track “The Weight.” One common thought, aside from the obvious “How the hell do they come up with this stuff?” is just straight-up, “Damn, these guys are good at their instruments.”
Yautja is the thinking man’s heavy. Sure, one can stare at a wall counting Car Bomb time signatures all day. One can also praise that “Devin Townshend is underrated, bro” while wearing the same old Opeth shirt with a suspicious stain on it that they claim is mayo. The spectrum of progressive music, let alone metal that embodies a progressive and interesting approach, is funneled into a seemingly dying breed of bands. Yautja truly is one of the select few that have an impassioned, original and distinct style. Granted, they’ve been working on it for a decade, as a trio of relatively young and inspired spirits, Yautja is also one of those bands where pinpointing influences, genres and tags seems near impossible, and frankly, completely irrelevant.
The stars have aligned. In a blast-beating, ripping triumvirate, The Lurch first beckons fans of loud, heavy and aggressive music. Secondly, it calls out for listeners of angular, dissonant and experimental instrumentation. Lastly, The Lurch attracts those interested in the state of heavy metal and underground music that is completely new, refreshing and completely distinct.