Monday, 4 December 2017

REVIEW: Yautja - "Dead Soil" [EP]

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 10/11/2017
Label: Anti-Corporate Music Inc


This may be the best starting point for those who have not encountered the complexity, integrity, and badass head banging brutality of Yautja.

“Dead Soil” LP track listing

1. Dead Soil
2. Losses
3. Human Den
4. Denihilist (Live)
5. Teeth (Live)
6. Faith Resigned (Live)

The Review:

Yautja, for those not fully enmeshed with science fiction mythologies, is the technical term for the dreadlocked creatures in Predator – merciless hunters who live by their own savage code of honor.  Like their namesake, Tennessee’s Yautja have proven durable, dynamic, and bound by their own code.  A little background: the first three tracks of “Dead Soil” were the first post-demo recordings released by Yautja back in 2012 as part of a split with Enabler.  That band’s sordid breakup revealed a history of abuse that has been detailed elsewhere but, suffice it to say, has tainted practically everything they’ve been attached to.  Yautja have been vocal about reclaiming this out of print early material and giving it the presentation it deserves, bolstered by unreleased live recordings that shows Yautja as a brutal but progressive threat.

Title track “Dead Soil” is a blistered assault of sludgy punk dripping with hardcore edge.  In less than two minutes, Yautja charge through rhythm changeups while spewing corrosive, accusatory lyrics. “Losses” turns the invective inward, riding palm muted guitar riffs that swap between left and right channels for a headspinning effect.  The track is furious but short and left me wanting more.  Human Den,” the longest track (at over two minutes), is also the best.  There is an actual chorus this time, and Coburn’s beats are inhumanly fast.  The final riffs and vocals are chilling: “The waste leaks from my pores / And I try to dig deeper / For air that must be there / I have to dig myself a home.”

The live trio of “Denihilist”, “Teeth”, and “Faith Resigned” comprise the majority of the EP, and show Yautja has come a long way in the five years since the initial release.  All three tracks come from their only full-length release, 2014’s “Songs of Descent”, and have me jonesing for another full-length in 2018.  The impeccable dynamic of the live performance shows Yautja is a battle honed monster – a power trio in an era continually invested in “more is more” musicianship.  They manage to take simple ideas, like countering doom riffs with blast beats, and infuse them with undeniable intensity.  The sound quality is almost studio level, with only a few strained vocals and audience applause between songs indicating the live setting.  If nothing else, it made me furious that I missed their latest tour with Pyrrhon, and dead set on not making the same mistake twice.

On the surface, “Dead Soil” is a fans only affair.   As a mix of previously released material and unreleased live tracks, doesn’t seem like an ideal entry point for new Yautja listeners.  But this is actually my first listen of the band and I’m hooked.  In one release they showed they were a dynamic trio from the start, and the added live cuts are testament to their prowess and growth.  So with their personal ethos and remarkable musicianship on display, this may be the best starting point for those who have not encountered the complexity, integrity, and badass headbanging brutality of Yautja.

“Dead Soil” was released via Anti-Corp on 10th November and is available here (this is a vinyl only release that includes a remix by Mikey Allred at Dark Art Audio and even better than that, it’s an etched record, with the amazing artwork of Caroline Harrison etched into the B-side by Dan Emery at Black Matter Mastering)

Band info: bandcamp || facebook