Yautja’s Songs of Descent was one of 2014’s most pleasant surprises, a blistering combination of grind, sludge, death metal, hardcore, and even noise that never felt as if it was overreaching to any one of these particular extremities. Rather, the band had a knack for making everything blend into an instantly signature sound, complete with a true knack for dynamics from both a volume and rhythm perspective. Also, the riffs. These boys can flat pen a memorable, skull-flattening line, and the (ace) rhythm section is always just as much a part of the heft as the six string.
Rather than resting on their initial achievement, this Nashville trio got right back to it with this EP, Songs of Lament. And if Descent didn’t hook you, Lament oughta, as it at least equals the debut in all aspects, if not showing real growth. The riffs are still delivered in heaps; the drumming is still so good it’s almost unfair (really, Tyler Coburn is a godly skinsman); the harsh vocals are still shared by all three members, delivering an nice rage/rhythm combination; and the band’s chemistry is only getting tighter with age. (Oh, and the production is just about perfect, straight down to the drum clarity.)
Much like the debut, Songs of Lament features the kind flow and arc that is all too rare among Yautja’s peers. Beginning with “Breed Regret,” the EP almost broods into existence before forcing its way out of the speakers. The grinding sludge takes center stage first, but hints of death, and well-placed blast beats begin to add layers as the track shifts and churns itself over five-plus minutes.
The opener is wisely followed up by several shorter tracks that each lean a bit towards any one of the band’s tendencies. Some are a tad more grind (“Thankful; Appalled” and “Disgust; Disguise”), and some a touch more death (“Of Lament”). The important thing is that all tracks, even the obvious interlude, add to the EP’s flow and completeness. None add more than closer “Crumbling,” a monster, 9-minute crusher that does the “punishing, self-destructive sludge metal finish” as well as about any song. This attention to flow helps to give this merely 24 minute EP a holistic feel that, along with the feast of riffs, is utterly satisfying.
Yautja’s wide net of influences ought to be a pretty big selling point for many a heavy music fan. However, it isn’t so much their mastery of these styles or even their cross-pollinating capabilities that make them so enjoyable, but rather, their irresistible cohesion as a unit. It’s impossible to imagine this band not having a righteous blast playing these tunes together. And it’s becoming equally impossible to imagine them making music that isn’t just as much of a righteous blast to hear.
Give these boys some money so they keep writing riffs.