Sep 082010

Last week, I got a series of attention-grabbing messages from my NCS collaborator IntoTheDarkness. In one, he urged me to check out a band called Yorblind, calling it “one of the best melodeath bands I’ve heard in a loooong time.” In another, he pushed me to hear Fractal Gates:  “Sooo good. In the same vein as Yorblind and Incarnia — new melodeath bands that kick ass. In Flames really was never this good lol.”

“In Flames really was never this good”?  Really?  Well, ITD is sometimes given to overstatement, particularly when he’s trying to get me to pay attention, and I’m sure he didn’t know I would quote him verbatim. On the other hand, when it comes to metal, he’s a lot harder to please than I am. So if his aim was to get my attention, he succeeded.

Oh, and I’m soooo fucking glad he succeeded, because, really and truly, these bands are soooo good. I spent much of the Labor Day weekend using them as a soundtrack to my R&R (what little of it there was), and the music just made everything sharper, more invigorating, more zap-headed. It made me happy all over again that somewhere in the dim mists of the past I started listening to metal.

I started out intending to write about both bands in a single post, but decided that just wouldn’t be right. So today the focus is on Yorblind, and tomorrow will come a few hundred words about Fractal Gates.  (more after the jump, including, as usual, a track to hear . . .)

Yorblind is from Paris. For that matter, so is that other band we’re writing about tomorrow (Fractal Gates). Just a Gallic coincidence. Earlier this year, Yorblind released its second album, Reflexions, after a hiatus of something like four years following the band’s debut.

The new released was mixed by Franck Hueso (Hacride, Klone), it was mastered by Tue Madsen (Dark Tranquillity, Moonspell, the Haunted, dozens more), and it sounds just great. In fact, listening to it is an electrifying experience.

My comrade IntoTheDarkness classified the music as modern melodeath when he wrote me about it, but I would call it death-thrash with melodic overtones.

The songs are fast, galvanized by rapid-fire, industrial-strength bass rhythms and inventive, unpredictable drum fills. Against that backdrop of staccato pummeling, the guitarists (Mike Bry and Jipi) inject big, pulsing tones that reminded me of Gojira’s stylings (if played twice as fast), with large doses of compulsive chugging and Bry’s creative, wah-wah pedaled solos.

There may be something musically better than nail-driving chugs and timely blasts of distorted shred, but I’m having trouble thinking of what it might be at the moment.

Unless it’s all that, plus unusually creative, intelligent, non-standard drumming (from a dude name Drixxé). I had so much fun in my second tour through this album just listening to the drums. I would continually expect a certain progression, and continually be confounded by something different, and very cool.

Down-shifted pacing appears here and there, at the end of “Suicide” and “To Feel Despised”, or near the middle of “You’re Blind” and “Blood Sucker”, but Yorblind mainly lives or dies by jabbing rhythms and that flashy guitar work — and the technical sophistication and inventiveness of all the instrumental work is absolutely top-shelf.

The vocals match the quality of the instrumental music. Nothing clean (thank you!), but “L. Chuck D.” has great range and power, from the cavernous roaring that opens up like an abyss to the blackened shrieking at the other end of the scale, and much else in between.

Melodies? Yes, here and there, particularly strong in “You’re Blind”, and even a hint of ambient keyboards on a few songs. Certainly not the classic Gothenburg style, certainly not enough to take the stage from the physical power of the thrash and the death, but enough to root the songs in your rmemory.

Was In Flames not this good at a similar stage in their career? I wouldn’t say that. The musical stylings are different, and you can’t overlook that In Flames was one of the progenitors of a genre. But I’ll say this: Yorblind’s Reflexion is a mammothly strong album from end to end, with songs I’ll be coming back to over and again, and I can’t say that about most of the releases I’ve heard this year.

This is the first song on Reflexions, the first Yorblind song I heard, and still my favorite. I hope it grabs you as hard as it did me.

Yorblind: Media Oppression


Yorblind’s MySpace page is here.

Reflexions is available as a digital download at Amazon and iTunes and as a CD from Thundering Records.

  4 Responses to “YORBLIND”

  1. It’s hard to accurately compare a band to one of a sub-genre’s forefathers at a similar point in their respective careers. Just look at some of the pioneers in rock and metal in general – the stuff that’s coming out now is well beyond what metal started off with, in no small part to what the older bands did in their day. Despite what we can expect from most new bands these days, that doesn’t lessen what the truly classic albums have to offer, even if they sound tame compared to the what’s out now. This is true for all genres of music, but it’s more dominant with our chosen form of musical entertainment.

    That said, Yorblind sounds rather impressive and is another great reason to look towards France if you’re looking for some awesome metal. I know I’ll be checking out some more of their material when I have a little more time.

    • Well put. It’s really not a fair comparison. Even though I do think lots of the ground-breaaking music from bands like At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity, and In Flames have stood the test of time and still sound great today, you can’t fairly overlook the changes they brought about or how revolutionary the music sounded when it was first coming out.

      • True, some of that stuff can sill hold its own compared to stuff being released today, which can’t be said of some bands that have been around longer. Maybe in another five to ten years, these bands’ early output will be put to shame in a side by side comparison, but that shouldn’t take away from their impact now and yesterday, just like Black Sabbath’s debut or the guitar playing of Eddie Van Halen – stuff that’s long been surpassed but has not lost any of its impact, importance or legacy. I think it’s a good thing that the music has gotten better and is still doing new things, rather than stagnating as a whole.

        It’s also great to hear more bands from countries that aren’t the usual suspects and France has given some decent stuff over the years. Of course, there’s the mighty Gojira to contend with, but 7th Nemesis, Klone, Spheric Universe Experience (progressive metal), Penumbra (symphonic metal) are also bands I’ve enjoyed greatly. I have to listen to more from Yorblind and Fractal Gates to see if they can stand alongside the rest of my musical tastes, but from the sounds of it, that’s probably a yes. There’s sure to be many more that I’m either forgetting at the moment or haven’t heard enough from to make an assessment of.

        • The band we’re covering tomorrow, also from France, is more melodic and equally awesome. I’ve got plenty of other French favorites in addition to the ones you mention, though they might not be to your taste, including Eryn Non Dae, Hacride, Dagoba, Antaeus, Zubrowska. I’m sure more will come to me as soon as I finish posting this comment . . .

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