Listening to Yakuza's latest effort "Transmutations" is not unlike sifting through the rubble of a demolished building. Sure there are recognizable pieces of musical foundations here and there, but everything has become so fractured and twisted that it's nearly impossible to readily identify anything.
In fact, those familiar with the bands past works are even in for a few surprises here as "Transmutations" isn't so much an album title as it is concrete description of the material on hand. Often branching off into two extremes, the groups avant garde approach, which incorporates everything from jazz and psychedelia to death metal and grind, has been left to congeal structure wise; yet its temperament has become increasingly unstable.
Gloomy foreboding dirges, fierce aggression and ponderous excursions through vaguely post-rock territory are all in attendance. As is the ever omnipresent sax which usually serves as the tip of the sword into a jazzy foray. But the thing that stands out the most about "Transmutations" is how the material has been scraped down its bitter essentials. It's just more cagey and organic, given to a maniacal approach rather than a pre-thought out concentrated effort.
Many mood swings are unleashed upon the listener and this can make for an uncomfortable listen. Thus, when the bands inner pendulum erratically swings back and forth through time changes and the requisite genre clashes, it comes off more as a turgid and engrossing jam session than some intricately planned progressive songwriting. This is both "Transmutations" strongest and weakest quality.
The ingredients essentially remain the same, but the recipe can seem sloppy and unnerving at times. Even with the band wisely avoiding the spastic cut and paste route, the end results are not always consistently provoking or enjoyable. Variety is guaranteed, but there are more than a handful of tracks that just seem to drag on and don't necessarily challenge the listener or the bands own instrumental abilities. Perhaps this is the biggest problem with "Transmutations" - there are times where it just doesn't feel like nature is taking its course.
(3.5 / 5)