Inspiring zazen introspection at a kinhin pace there’d been no question that Ocean City, Maryland doom metal band Yatra had the right stuff on their post-Blood Raven debut ‘Death Ritual‘ (2019). Occult rituals by way of formative stoner/doom metal influenced rhythms were obscure and spellbinding in their own right but it’d all extrude through a fuzzy, typical stoner/doom metal tonality. All the more reason that the trio’s second album, ‘Blood of the Night’, comes as a grand supernatural unveiling a year later. Crisply rendered and now gnashing a boldly blackened vocal atop lung-stretching somnolent Sabbathian grooves, Yatra found a righteous temple at this second stop on their eternal unholy pilgrimage.
Don’t think for a second that the only major change within rests upon a clearer, more polished production sound as the main event on ‘Blood of the Night’ is the endless strands hewn between expansive modern stoner metal thunder, classic heavy psych textures, and a hundred headbanging classic doom metal riffs that spiral down towards previously unattained pools of lasting resonance. Their core Green Druid-esque bustle is still there along with some ‘Busse Woods’-era Acid King and The Obsessed worthy riffing to smooth over the ritualistic fervor of it all but the majority of what Yatra are doing on ‘Blood of the Night’ goes a step beyond the solemnity of classic stoner/doom metal and now includes more extreme metal influenced sounds. Don’t puke up your granola in protest just yet, all I mean to suggest is that guitarist/vocalist and songwriter Dana Hellmuth uses a clear black/sludge metal rasp instead of the more distant 90’s Matt Pike-esque quietude of ‘Death Ritual’. The style isn’t as extreme as Coltsblood nor does any of it touch upon sludge as deeply as say, early Sourvein (‘Salvation’)or Warhorse, but the ‘blackened’ vocal approach works wonders in gracing Yatra with additional distinctive trait.
No doubt the band have been hard at work on the road touring alongside countless bands and hitting some pretty big festivals while smartly taking the opportunity to roadtest much of this newer material. Putting these songs to work on tour prior to recording appears to have been key to this much improved render of Yatra‘s holistic vision, at least as important as the rejiggering of their sound design has been for illuminating their intended style. This’d have to be the impetus for the ‘classic’ doom metal thread carried between back-to-back standouts “The Howling” and “After the Ravens” which land near the middle of the album and hit reasonably hard on the full listen; I’d become completely entranced by the extended push of “After the Ravens” in particular. Some of the riffs go full on ‘Vol. 4’ (see: “Surrender”) and I’m all for that but later in the album Yatra start to go a bit too full circle with their thread of riff ideas (“Three Moons”) and some parts read slightly redundant towards the end of the full spin.
‘Blood of the Night’ features a round of well-executed improvements beyond Yatra‘s early 2019 debut, bleeding out their early 2000’s fuzzball sound and hitting upon a style more conscious of the old and the new while pulling in their strongest road-tested songs to date. It comes with a moderately high recommendation from me not for the sake of their glowing progress report but for the strength of the full listen.
Moderately high recommendation. 3.75/5.0
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