Yatra, All Is Lost review (Grimoire Records 2020)

Yatra release their second set of masterful doom this year: All Is Lost.

The first album from Yatra was Death Ritual, released only two years ago. Blood of the Night followed in January this year, and now there is All Is Lost. The three-piece band from Maryland is Dana Helmuth (guitars and vocals), Maria Geisbert (bass), and Sean Lafferty (drums). The sound they create is fundamental but I wouldn’t call it stripped down. It is heavy with purpose and lithe as a leviathan in the ocean.

Recorded in June this year, All Is Lost is the perfect theme for 2020. The themes are ominous and dark. The lyrics are less about narrative structure on many songs and are filled with vivid imagery. The perfect example is “Blissful Wizard,” which repeats the refrains “blissful wizard / rides the night” and “bless this mountain” to convey the thematic structure while the music fills in the story. This approach puts the listener in a general conceptual frame of mind and allows subtleties to be individually interpreted as the music speaks in ways everyone can experience differently.

The music is doom – heavy guitar riffs, gruff vocals, pulsing rhythms. The opening song is the title track and it starts the set off on the path of fear, uncertainty, and darkness. There is a real feeling of not knowing what is going on but knowing for sure that it is bad. “Reapers ride the blackest winds / harvesting the death foretold.” A blackened prophecy of death seeping in, unstoppable. The lead breaks are potent and brief, as in “Winter’s Dawning,” where it lives between tectonic riff shifts. A track that sticks out in my mind is “One For The Mountain.” It is a dark fantasy theme carried on a veritable river of music created by the guitar in both lead and harmony. This song is the set stone piece for the album to my ears, and it is surrounded by metal that is going to have a lasting impact on heavy music. Highly recommended.

All Is Lost is out this Friday, October 9th and this is one you don’t want to miss. The digital, CD, and limited vinyl (100 copies) are available through Bandcamp. You can get ready for the new one by catching up on the first two albums if you haven’t heard them yet.

Band photo by Nichole Strouse.







Yatra, All Is Lost review (Grimoire Records 2020)

Black Elephant, Seven Swords review (Small Stone Records 2020)

The fuzzed-out Italian metal blues stoner band Black Elephant comes thundering back with Seven Swords.

The new album is a follow-up to 2018’s Cosmic Blues, which established the band’s bone fides. There is a clear theme for Seven Swords but not a consistent one. Maybe the way to put it is there is a strong theme running through the album. References to Japan appear in nearly every song, ranging from sumo with Yokozuna to art with Yayoi Kusama to solemnity with seppuku. But then there are other apparently entirely unrelated pieces, too, setting the listener on the path of jovial tongue-in-cheekedness which fits in with a stoner perspective quite well. The musicians are Alessio Caravelli (guitar and vocals), Massimiliano Giacosa (guitar), Marcello Destefanis (bass), and Simone Brunzu (drums) – a power rock set-up that delivers heavy desert blues and some sideways surprises.

The albums opens with a soft, spacey blues insinuation title “Berta’s Flame” that drops a heavy foot a couple times between whispers before a guitar lead rips the reality wide open halfway through. “The Last March of Yokozuna” begins life at first as a vacation on a South Pacific island, takes a big stomp, then quietens down again. And then the set really starts to rip. “Yayoi Kusama” has an opening groove that is almost boogie and the fuzziness verily surrounds you, rubbing your ears until you tingle. “Mihara” is a warbling space journey and, while the space journey continues throughout, guitars do rise from the lower decks and take over. “Red Sun and Blues Sun” is a rollicking good time promenade through a summer psychedelic garden with gentle musical shifts at every new blossom. “Seppuku” is heavy blues and deadly serious in its grinding waves, as the title suggest it would be. “Govinda” wraps everything up, and listens like a nine minute guided meditation that swells and shrinks and reveals.

Seven Swords is out Friday, August 28. If you preorder it on Bandcamp, you get “Berta’s Flame” right now and the rest at the end of next week. There are also CD and LP choices that all include digital downloads, too. Get your fuzz on. Recommended.




Black Elephant, Seven Swords review (Small Stone Records 2020)