Review: Yakuza

“Way of the Dead”
(Century Media)

Certainly the most interesting introduction I’ve heard for any album in quite some time and if you care to base that statement off the number of gall darned albums I listen to, then that’s really quite a pronouncement in deed. Strange for metal that the vocals are actually more spoken at times than they are sung or shouted.  At first I was going to decry the vocals as weak, but with just a little more massaging of my critical apparatus (wouldn’t you like to massage my critical apparatus?) I find my determination points in a whole new direction and that the vocals aren’t weak but rather unique and bold.  The intermittent bursts from the accompanying saxophone help elevate this up from your typical metal doldrums, and add a spice of flavor not often found outside of the works of John Zorn’s Painkiller.  The band is well-positioned on this album to go either tumbling over into the abyss of chaotic experimentalism or take one step back and become another dullard metal band, but if they are wise, they’ll stand their ground (or better yet expand upon it) and create a place for themselves in a niche most people didn’t even realize needed filling.  After hearing “Way of the Dead,” however, I now know this niche needs filling.  Will Yakuza take it?  Or will some more able-bodied young men and/or women swipe it out from under them before they know what they got here?