My introduction to Yashira was, sadly, in 2018 when they lost their drummer, Seth Howard, in a terrible car accident. Seeing their name mentioned in this context wasn’t a good thing, of course, but it did prompt me to check out their music and what I found blew me way. Yashira deal in a kind the kind of heavy mix of post-metal and doom that might remind you of Telepathy. 12 Areas. The thing is, Yashira also have vocals, eschewing many of the instrumental-only tropes that at least some of their sound is anchored. This makes the band truly fascinating and I was immediately intrigued by what I heard. The mix of melancholy, heaviness, directness, and complexity was unique and I found myself hoping that Howard’s death won’t be the band’s end.
Luckily, this was not the case and Yashira have not only soldiered on but have excelled their previous efforts. Their upcoming release, Fail To Be, sees release tomorrow, December 11th and it is absolutely massive. Yashira have truly dug into the core of their sound and brought forth a raw, bleeding, moving album, perhaps immersed in the sorrow of the terrible loss they felt. The intriguing blend of styles and sounds is still very much here, amplified by the absolutely immense tones used for every single instrument (vocals included). This makes the post-metal that much sleeker, the doom metal that much heavier, causing the music to shine vibrantly all across its spectrum.
This is also what makes Yashira great candidates for an Anatomy Of post because they seem to be made up of so many parts. You can see it in their choices as well; moving from the groove of Queens of the Stone Age and into the mind-boggling complexity of Gorguts tells you a lot about what makes Yashira tick. It’s also just a phenomenal list of choices, packed chock-full of powerful music, always on the upper level of emotional expression, aggressiveness, and presence. Which, again, comes as no surprise when you head Fail To Be and how forward and immediate the album is. Don’t forget to head on over to the band’s Bandcamp to pre-order it before its release tomorrow or to head on over to this link to do so. In general, keep in eye on these guys. They’ve been through a lot but they’ve still got many places to go.
Dylan Mikos chose His Hero Is Gone – Fifteen Counts of Arson
To me, this record is the definition of “raw power.” From the music to the lyrics to the delivery, it all comes together as one powerful force. I think channeling aggression in music can sometimes have a tendency to come off as forced or fake. This record doesn’t have that problem and that’s very apparent as soon as “Professional Mind Fuckers” kicks off. It was and still is a lesson for me in the importance of honest writing in heavy music by being an obvious example of a band who let the process of emotion carry the songs to where they need to go. In the age of imitation, this record’s name is written in the concrete of time.
Favorite songs: “Professional Mind Fuckers”, “Leash”, “Thieves”
Luke Barber chose Queens of the Stone Age – Lullabies to Paralyze
It was very hard to pick just one QOTSA album, but this feels like the right one for me. In terms of their development, this feels like a pretty transitional record – seeing them move from a more straight forward band with great songs to a band who composes cohesive, thoughtful records. It’s like they were just beginning to hone in on their vision, and that confidence shines through. The experimental side of QOTSA is vast and you can tell they were beginning to really scratch the surface on their potential.
Following up a powerhouse of a record like Songs For The Deaf probably wasn’t easy but they pulled it off gracefully by making it super moody and heavy handed with their aesthetic – kinda like Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here following up Dark Side of the Moon. Intricate guitar work, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, heady instrumentation layers, the variety of percussion, Homme’s bravado are just some of the things that make this record have a feel all its own. Some of the songs on this record are so fucking weird. It kinda feels like stumbling upon a nudist ceremony in the woods, lit only by campfire. The music has a way of creating a scene within the imagination. I love how it just oozes coolness and intention, while setting themselves apart and above their previous records.
Favorite tracks: “In My Head”, “The Blood Is Love”, “Skin On Skin”
Ryan O’Neal chose Cult of Luna – Vertikal
Cult of Luna has always done something for me, but Vertikal is the one that sticks out the most. Following Eternal Kingdom, their approach seemed a bit different especially in terms of production. Everything on Vertikal feels sharp and mechanical especially on tracks like “Synchronicity and Mute Departure.” It’s also full of haunting, emotional atmospheres that are combined with heavy riffs that really make this record flow so well. The record ends with “Passing Through”, a mellow droning riff with singing that really captures the overall mood and emotion they deliver from this record.
Favorite tracks: “Vicarious Redemption”, “Synchronicity, I: The Weapon”
Connor Anderson chose Gorguts – Colored Sands
This massive, uncompromising album from front to back is one of a kind and highly acclaimed for good reason. Beyond the remarkable musicianship that can be admired on its own, the dynamic song writing, attention to detail and production quality makes the album iconic in my eyes. With all of the different aspects and layering to take in, “Le Toit Du Monde” serves as a perfect introduction for the rest of the songs that follow.
A few of the tracks like “An Ocean of Wisdom” and “Colored Sands” showcase dynamic prowess with melodic sections that are seamlessly placed to contrast from the intense and chaotic parts occupying most of the album. “Forgotten Arrows” brings it’s own feel stylistically with literally one of the heaviest endings I can think of, while compositionally “Enemies of Compassion” features a number of driving, mechanical riffs that build suspense through the first half, then breaking to a more open, melodic section for about a minute until it picks up again with an unrelenting solo.
It feels pretty inadequate trying to give sufficient praise with a quick summary, but ultimately I’d say this really is a must-hear for any fans of metal generally and I can’t recommend it enough. Having seen them perform some of these tracks live is something I value even more now, given the unique and challenging times we’re in.
Favorite tracks: “Le Toit Du Monde”, “Colored Sands”, “Enemies of Compassion”
All four of us chose Converge – Axe to Fall
This one really does speak for itself. If you’ve heard this record, you know why it’s on this list. And if you haven’t, you need to stop reading and go listen to it right now. I mean seriously, this is such an essential. There’s not much I can really say about this record that hasn’t already been said. It’s such a rewarding chunk of music to listen to. Everybody thinks Converge came into their own with Jane Doe but they were only dipping their toes in.
Axe To Fall has everything you want out of Converge and a little bit more. Beyond just being a record that hauls serious ass, it has more contrast than their previous records, as it’s largely a collaborative album. The contributions from each person are all on display. Nobody is buried, everybody fills their role. Because the music is so fresh and original, it pulls in many different directions throughout the record. It falls into its own category.
The way they weave in and out of many different styles with ease is beyond appealing to us as listeners, infinitely inspiring to us as a band. Converge thought much bigger picture than they had with previous records. As if Converge couldn’t become more legendary in heavy music circles, they carved out their place in the broad musical landscape beyond metal, beyond hardcore because they stepped out of their comfort zone.
Favorite tracks: “Damages”, “Worms Will Feed/Rats Will Feast”, “Axe To Fall”