(Here’s Austin Weber’s review of the debut album by Nashville’s Yautja.)
In today’s crowded metal-influenced punk scene, it’s hard for me to find new groups that I enjoy for more than a fleeting moment. But as of late, I have become quite enthralled by Yautja, a Nashville-based group of noise mongers, a band I heard of due to local hometown heroes, Coliseum, whose bass player Kayhan Vizari is also in Yautja. Sonically, this is in a whole different ballpark than Coliseum though. Plus, they named themselves after the creature from Predator, which was definitely a badass and fitting choice.
Yautja frequently divide between expansive, sprawling sludge and terrorizing grind, which gives Songs of Descent a unique flow, with fast and slow tracks expertly paired for maximum impact. Sometimes there’s even a noise rock feel present within some of their angular, lurching grooves, which splay back and forth like powerful oceanic currents, violently pushing and pulling everything they come in contact with.
Yautja have crafted a gargantuanly heavy and headbangable hodgepodge that always knows when to shift tempos and flavors for maximum contrast and diversity. Songs of Descent rarely sticks to one thing for long; the switch-ups between/grind/hardcore/sludge/punk/death metal-ish riffs come often and are expertly ordered and arranged in a plethora of different ways.
Kayhan Vizari adds a wall of doomy, punishing low-end to the already crushing, explosive weight of the guitar and drum work. He also starts “Tar and Blindness” with a thick, rumbling intro before the rest of the band piles on and mayhem ensues as usual. I’m likewise quite fond of the three diverse instrumentals on the record: The tribal stomp of opener “Path Of Descent, the hypnotic propulsion of “Path To Ground”, and the noisy flames of aural corrosion on “A Cleansing Fire”.
Sometimes Songs Of Descent comes across like Converge if they dabbled in power violence, most prominently so on “Blinders”, “An Exit”, and “Concrete Tongue”, though also during parts of other tracks as well. “Vitriolic” doesn’t even begin to capture the agony writhing about in a frenzy on “Of Descent”, a song that traverses combat between potent sludge and fighting grind, back and forth. At certain points Yautja certainly reminded me of the always killer Enabler and Black Breath.
But my favorite track has to be “Faith Resigned”, the longest song here, and definitely the most oppressive and heaviest — stuffed with loping, off-kilter grooves, and a razor-sharp main riff that stabs at you angrily.
With so many bands doing d-beat punk / metal mergers, the groups with the strongest songwriting and best riffs rise to the top. Both are areas in which Yautja finds few equals. Songs Of Descent flows like a crushing sentient plague, focused in its intent to annihilate everything, and prone to pointing out the inconvenient carcasses and decay that litter the landscape, which we try to ignore. Ugly animosity never sounded so rabid.
Yautja’s Songs Of Descent drops February 11th through Forcefield Records. However, Pitchfork procured an advance stream, and I urge everyone to check it out. Three of the songs are also on Bandcamp, and you can hear those below.