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not just ‘another’ Death Metal album - 90%

krozza, March 11th, 2005

Due to the vagaries of my local postal system, Yyrkoon’s latest disc disappeared into the ether and never arrived in my box when it was released last October. In the ensuing four months since, I’ve not only read countless praiseworthy reviews, but also witnessed many end of year polls claim ‘Occult Medicine’ as the best death metal album of 2004. This was obviously an album I needed to hear. A prompt reminder to my good friends at Osmose Productions quickly rectified the situation and although somewhat belatedly, finally, here it is.

Yyrkoon is another of those bands you’ve always read about but never quite got around to hearing. They’ve been busting their metal chops around the French countryside since 1995, pursuing various styles of aggressive music (they were once a serious keyboard drive black metal act) before finally nailing the death/thrash style that we have come to witness on ‘Occult Medicine’. This is album No.4 for Yyrkoon and clearly, right from the first listen it is a major step up in quality compared to their previous albums. Yyrkoon have always been fairly creative, but are one of those bands that needed a stellar production to really capture their mood and style. ‘Occult Medicine’ has that in spades.

Having experimented with a few styles over their near on decade of existence, we could say that Yyrkoon have finally stumbled upon a fantastic mixture of them all. And that’s probably the best thing about ‘Occult Medicine’. This is labeled as Death Metal album (which I wholeheartedly agree with), however intertwined within the whole deal you will spot ample Black Metal histrionics, classic metal tones (particularly the phenomenally sublime lead work), classic Thrash rhythms and subtle modern stop/staggered riffing. Probably the best description I have seen given to this band is 1 part Carcass (circa Heartwork era), meets ‘Pestilence’ (circa ‘Testimony of the Ancients’) and just maybe some early era ‘Fear Factory’ (without the clean elements). It may not cover the full gammet of influences on this, but as an initial reference point, they’ll certainly suffice.

‘Occult Medicine’ is a very well written, well-constructed death/thrash metal disc. Their use of the thrashier style riffing hit the hardest for me as do the wicked lead solo’s that recall a real old-school classic metal vibe. With a killer production laced with warmth and heart, ‘OM’ has a fantastic epic like atmosphere to it. Everything sounds really balanced and strong throughout.

Clearly, Yyrkoon decided not to make just ‘another’ Death Metal album. To me, considering their status prior to ‘OM’ (which was virtually nil), these songs sound like they have been rehearsed and re-written over and over until they met the bands newly found high standards. The hard work seems to have paid off. All the positive vibes about ‘Occult Medicine’ are well and truly deserved. Certainly, it comes as a major, major surprise in the death metal scene – I don’t think anyone would have laid odds on such a strong release coming from this band, let alone from France. Incredible really. If you love well-constructed aggressive music, you need this.

Krozza: for www.pyromusic.net and walls of fire