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Yakuza > Way of the Dead > Reviews > lostalbumguru
Yakuza - Way of the Dead

Metallic Soundscapes, Sort Of... - 87%

lostalbumguru, November 19th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2002, CD, Century Media Records

Another lost gem from the early 00s. Yakuza is heavy in its own weird way, and somewhat connected to metal as much as ambient post rock stuff, like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Canvas Solaris, Gordian Knot. I really love their stuff but it won't give you any direct pleasures as a metal fan. Way of the Dead is full of jazzy timings, weird art-rock licks, drumming from 70s prog, and the kind of playfully obscure song structures journalists for pretentious music magazines were wont to fetishize.

Actually Way of the Dead is a very intriguing listen, and you can add Japanese madmen Sigh to the list of comparable bands. The drumming is sometimes frantic, full of odd meters, agitated blasts, tribal tom rolls, jazz off-beats and cymbal accents in strange places. The vocals are in the Converge and Between the Buried and Me mould, and the songs are all jagged stop-start metal numbers, but stretched and twisted into post-rock and jazz formats. Really, Yakuza is its own weird brand of heavy music, somewhat metal but fulsomely expanded into adjacent genres.

Way of the Dead is basically Mr Bungle playing metal-core. Throat-chanting on Vergasso, total madness on Miami Device, you just have to spin the album to find out. Some music is so eccentric you just have to couch its descriptions in context, and hope for the best. If you're a metal fan with proclivities for odd noisy music of all kinds, you'll love Yakuza. Way of the Dead is their second best album after Transmutations. It's like the guys took influences from every interesting band from metal and punk, and threw in John Coltrane just to space everyone out.

I really miss the 2002 to 2005 period. A lot of stuff got overwhelmed by the commercialisation of extreme metal. Nobody bought Way of the Dead at the time, but yeah, for instrument-players, and nerds of outlier noise, Yakuza has a bunch of great albums to explore.

Yama is the most friendly song on Way of the Dead, and comes across like a heavier At the Drive-In, but Way of the Dead is secretly building to the last song, a 50 minute soundscape workout with phased saxophone and free jazz drumming. Oh and the song is called 01000011110011. If you're young and have friends and access to soft drugs (metaphor not recommendation) and have the time to stay up late listening to one album on a six-hour loop, make it Way of the Dead, it's built for that stage in life.