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Old 12-07-2011, 10:17 PM
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Natrlhi Natrlhi is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Cleveland, OH
Posts: 8,931
Yakuza -- Chicago, IL -- November 23rd, 2011

Venue: Subterranean
Source: Me, some videos I took, some band members I talked to, etc.

So it has been two weeks since I attended this show, but this is the first time I've had a solid block of about an hour in order to cobble together this gig report, and since there was some interest on the part of a few folks on here, I decided I would go ahead and put this out there. In truth, this was a very good show. My opening comment may seem to indicate otherwise, but really all I'm trying to say is that it's hard for me to make posts that require more than thirty seconds of continuous thought these days, so I was gonna skip making this one but I knew I shouldn't (if that makes any sense ).

Anyway, this was the end-of-the-road tour stop for Chicago post-metal / sludge / stoner outfit The Atlas Moth, who had been out on a short tour with NYC's Batillus. The Swan King were the opening act (presumably in part due to being local and due to being labelmates with Batillus), and the headliner was Chicago's own Yakuza, in part because they are local but mostly because they rule harder than all three of the other bands put together.

First up was The Swan King, who are a stoner / sludge outfit that sound not unlike Red Fang (but slightly less awesome). They were good. I dug their stuff pretty well. I didn't find out until afterward that one of the founding members was in Asschapel - a band which I've loved for a long time and which everyone on here who loves grind / punk / crust / hardcore should check out pronto. I don't know any of The Swan King's set, but like I said they were good.

Next up was Batillus. I had talked to their merch guy before the show started, and he told me that if I liked Furnace (which I had told him that I did), then I was in for a treat. He said they were even heavier and louder live. He was mostly correct. What I've been digging about Furnace lately is that even though their songs can start out as slow as a funeral dirge (a hallmark of many doom outfits), they generally build to a crushingly heavy and utterly inescapable crescendo of rhythmic riffage (if you want to call it that) that tends to captivate me no end. It's hard to describe, I guess, but it's like post-metal meets ultra-slow doom / drone music, and nobody I know about seems to do this quite as effectively as Batillus does, especially on their latest release. The reason I said that the merch guy was "mostly correct" was that, although they were crushingly heavy and, yes - loud as FUCK - the live performance was a bit muddy in contrast to the cleaner sound they have on album, and somehow I prefer the latter in a big way. Still, Batillus hate-fucked my ears pretty hard, so I was pretty happy about that.

BATILLUS played:
...And the World Is As Night to Them
The Division (at least I'm pretty sure it was this song)
What Heart

Next up were The Atlas Moth, whom I had seen earlier this year on the Metalliance tour. Sadly, I thought they were better the first time, for two reasons - the first of which wasn't their fault and the second of which was. Their sound was all fucked up for this set - the incredibly beautiful detail of the songs from their new album (which they featured almost exclusively during their set, save the last song) was all but lost. The vocals were distorted and mixed pretty terribly, the guitars were way too loud, the drums were barely intelligible - it was just an all-around clusterfuck. Normally, I'd be willing to give them a pass on this aspect of their performance, because it may well have been the venue's fault, but the second aspect of their set that sucked pretty much overruled the shitty sound quality anyway. Unfortunately, it seemed as if several band members were either hammered (possibly because of having pre-gamed too much with a bunch of their friends, many of whom just took up space in the audience and acted kinda like tools the whole show), or just very tired from the tour. I don't know what it was, but they just failed to impress me with their energy that night. Still, I would recommend their new album to anyone who likes any of their previous material. It is probably their best work yet - it's just too bad that this show wasn't better proof of that.

Coffin Varnish
Perpetual Generations
An Ache for the Distance
25’s and the Royal Blues
Holes in the Desert
...Leads to a Lifetime on Mercury

Next up was the reason I drove an hour from Northwest Hoosierfuckstate that night...Bruce Lamont and his band of merry fuckers that collectively go by the moniker "Yakuza". Their set started out featuring heavily from their latest album Of Seismic Consequence, which was fine by me because that's the album I own and it's the one that got me into the band in the first place. After ripping out a couple of ditties from their latest album, they took us back to the Transmutations album with "Meat Curtains", which reminded me that, in addition to being very good at psychedelic sludge, these fuckers can thrash and burn with the best of them. Holy shit. Then we went back a little further to the opening track of the Samsara album for a little number called "Cancer of Industry". Kee-rist. This one starts out kinda noodly and Tool-esque, like something Cobalt might do, and then proceeds to go mostly in a death metal direction. I won't give the blow-by-blow for the entire set here, but suffice to say that these cats took us all on a genre-bending roller coaster ride that only a band like Yakuza can deliver - and let's face it - there IS no other band quite like Yakuza. Even Bruce Lamont's other projects, such as the sublime all-star packed doom outfit called Bloodiest or his one-man traveling road show of psychedelic voice-and-sax-looping madness, are nothing like Yakuza. There's a reason why people use words like "unique" and "distinctive" to describe this band - and it's not just because the frontman is a screaming lunatic who also happens to have some awesome clean vocals as well as being an expert saxophone player. It's because nobody else sounds quite like them, and if you are familiar with this band, you'll know that that is a very good thing. If you're not familiar, check them out. I can't make any guarantees, other than if you check out a pretty wide variety of their material, you probably can't name another band on this planet who can do what they do.

YAKUZA blew us the fuck away with the following:
Thinning the Herd
Stones and Bones
Meat Curtains
Cancer Industry
Be That As It May
Testing the Waters
Just Say Know
Steal the Fire
Existence into Oblivion
Farewell to the Flesh
Back to the Mountain

Last edited by Natrlhi; 12-07-2011 at 10:20 PM.
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