CD review AZUSA ‘Heavy Yoke’

(8/10) If members of bands like Extol, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Sea + Air combine forces the result must be a heavy and complex beast. And as expected this combination is like experimental metal dynamite.

The four musicians that started a collaboration with the moniker Azusa are Eleni Zafiriadou (v), Liam Wilson (b), Christer Espevoll (g) and David Husvik (d). A glimpse on the label info describes Azusa’s sound as a fusion of “Kate Bush fronting Slayer; Death collaborating with Annette Peacock”. This comparison might give some direction when it comes to harshness and musical savvy, although I missed the Kate Bush aspect on ‘Heavy Yoke’, the band’s debut.

‘Heavy Yoke’ is an album that represents the extreme of metal and for me, it sounds more like Meshuggah meets, Watchtower meets Détente. Singer Eleni Zafiriadou uses some clean vocals, like on the mighty ‘Interstellar Island’, but it’s her hoarse screams that dominate. What’s fascinating though is the puristic aggressiveness in her screaming that stands in contrast with the complex guitar structures.

Harmony isn’t what you get with challenging album. The polarizing aspects of melody and discord as well as harmony and dissonance are the fuel for this album. Spiced up with some melodic leads and aggressive riff infernos ‘Heavy Yoke’ unveils its beauty in steps. Navigating through this rough and raw musical soundscape for the first time is an impressive and distracting experience. The album is fascinating right away although it’s the details that uncover after a while. Azusa’s debut is an album listener need to work on before it unfolds its entire uniqueness.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklisting:

  1. Interstellar Islands
  2. Heart of Stone
  3. Heavy Yoke
  4. Fine Lines
  5. Lost In the Ether
  6. Spellbinder
  7. Programmed To Distress
  8. Eternal Echo
  9. Iniquitous Spiritual Praxis
  10. Succumb To Sorrow
  11. Distant call

 

Label: Indie Recordings

Genre: Progressive Extreme Metal

Release Date EU: November 16th, 2018

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