Prosthetic (2006) Evan B.

Yakuza – Samsara cover artwork
Yakuza – Samsara — Prosthetic, 2006

Chicago's Yakuza, despite two previous albums and a deal with Century Media, have not received much attention for their brand of chaotic metal. Bearing likeness to bands such as Naked City and Kylesa (a very strange combination indeed), Yakuza's third full-length Samsara has and will continue to garner well-deserved attention of metal fans looking for variety.

Samsara begins with "Cancer Industry"; a tribal rhythm and a saxophone over a single guitar chord gaining momentum, and explodes into a faster-paced blast to the end. "Plecostomus" continues at a mid-paced clip, throwing an occasional break or two, but nothing that radically changes the initial impression left by "Cancer Industry." The song slowly fades out with a sample, and forecasts the real treat titled "Monkeytail." This song begins with a slow saxophone part that gradually builds to a crescendo, but slowly releases. The drumming is outstanding on this track; the dynamics are done perfectly and forecast any shifts within the song. "Monkeytail" is when Yakuza begins to truly shine and their unique sound comes out, soothing the listener from the chaotic first two tracks, and eventually coming into their own unique sound.

The interlude "Transmission Ends... Signal Lost" lulls the listener into a calm state, and then brings him or her crashing back into reality with "Dishonor." This song is definitely reminiscent of Cryptopsy at first, but then fades away and into an Isis-like sludge that starts to pick up again as the song comes to a close. Yakuza continue this pattern of crescendo (and the accompanying fast parts)-decrescendo (accompanied by slower parts) throughout the whole album, but the length of each dynamic begins to grow with each song. For example, "20 Bucks" is an all-out assault on the listener, yet "Exterminator" is slow and plodding, just finding its way to the end of a song. This theme continues through "Just Say Know," my favorite track, and "Glory Hole" which has a nice piano outro but still seems to have Isis as the desired sound.

"Back to the Mountain" begins with guitar feedback and the saxophone leading the way once again. This song reaches its heaviest point around halfway through and refuses to relent until three minutes are left in which it fades out the same way it came.

Yakuza are one of the few metal bands that can pull off a sound coming from an extreme in speed, heaviness, and creativity. Yes, I said extreme creativity. However stupid that may sound, Yakuza make it seem much better with this record. I would've liked this record to go off the deep end for one extreme, however. Just a song or two that were extremely slow and sludgy or extremely fast paced, but that's just my inability to switch from slow songs to fast songs while listening to the same album. Yakuza represents a balance between these extremes, and it's something I definitely want to hear more of in the future.

8.8 / 10Evan B. • July 20, 2006

Yakuza – Samsara cover artwork
Yakuza – Samsara — Prosthetic, 2006

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