Review: “Yugen” by Of Clarity

“Yugen” is the third full length album from Louisville Kentucky Metalcore with just a hint of Deathcore quintet Of Clarity. It follows 2018’s “Derelict” and featuring a pair of guest appearances from Andrew Zink of BroJob and Sammy SlamDance while 2019 marks the bands 7 year anniversary. Fronted by Trent Baker, guitarist Austin Nichols has exited the band to be replaced by Hunter Caudill of Next Attempt fame since the recording. Tracy Cook handles bass with Jon Raney on drums and Jacob Prewitt adding the second guitar.

After 38 seconds of the science fiction horror programming that is “Start…” first track proper “…The Game” bursts into life with a Nu-Metalcore vibe. Schizophrenic lyrics from Baker cut through some choppy pause break riffs while the vocal range is an interesting mix of unclean bark with Deathcore growl thrown in to add some punch. “Burnout” shifts things up a gear in tempo and as the Juggernaut hits 70 on the freeway we get a bass solo break that sounds like it was recorded via modem in 1995. But the kicker is that while the first time around that my cause you to question if there is any compression or distortion on the sound, after a couple of spins, it adds a sick charm to the sound. The bands clearly have a love of Deathcore but don’t want to go full bore instead using it to add a dark menace to the album, the grim reaper looking over the shoulder the music at all times. The mid-song drop and rise back into the gallop of the pre-verse is a fine piece of writing while the almost downtempo breakdown section that bridges the final verse chorus is the one-two punch of a prize fighter. “Covet” sees the band joined by Andrew Zink of BroJob and some bombastic riffs lay the foundation for the guttural slams he provides. What’s interesting about it is that it has it’s roots in an Emocore but builds up dark schizophrenic vocals on top of the heavier parts so you have a lot of different voices attacking from all sides. If you split out the component parts, there are effectively a trio of songs sandwiched into one killer cut that works seamlessly as one.

“Open Your Eyes Pt. 3” is the third part of a song carried on the bands previous two full length albums and has a number of the same stylings as predecessor track “Covet”. The big melodic hook of the chorus vocals “I know you want me dead, from the things I’ve seen” gives the song the instant grab of gravity but it also has enough heavier Screamo orientated moments in it to make the band a gateway for Deathcore for those not indoctrinated. Sonic break and introduction piece “The Fall” is a chord progression loop over 87 seconds with an almost inaudible distorted spoken word that sees Baker ask “why did the fall take so long?” and creates a dark atmospheric. “Settle the Score” continues with angst laden lyrics of swirling violent moods, the impassioned vocals building layers of pain over the initial sounds before a melodic guitar part with a bluesy feel to it and a solo under spoken word builds into a huge Deathcore bridge that is just class. Returning to the original sounds for a closing chorus acts to slow things down and again build atmosphere for “Unrequited” to take hold of and smash against the wall like an empty beer bottle before a bar fight. The longest cut on the album at 5 minutes 17 seconds it flows between the two sides of the bands sound like an ocean swell. Bakers vocal range across the whole album is phenomenal and on this cut he rap screams, sings and summons Demons with some serious pitch changes. The depth of the growls during the final breakdown section are something else. That sets the tone for the title track “Yugen” that features Sammy SlamDance of Inferi & Abyss Walker fame which effectively is a fine summary of the album as a whole. Tight chugs and breakdowns littering it though a strange jazzy section mid song that bursts into a solo is good fun. Remember that “nothing is real because everything’s a dream” and you’ll be absolutely fine. [7.5/10]

Track list

  1. Start…
  2. …The Game
  3. Burnout
  4. Covet (Ft. Andrew Zink of BroJob)
  5. Open Your Eyes Pt. 3
  6. The Fall
  7. Settle the Score
  8. Unrequited
  9. Yugen (Ft. Sammy SlamDance of Inferi & Abyss Walker)

“Yugen” by Of Clarity is out now

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