Yashira – Fail To Be [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

It’s difficult to bounce back after a massive loss. Jacksonville’s Yashira were riding high on not only an excellent debut album in 2018’s Shrine, but also via fervent word of mouth about their abrasive live shows (including a coveted spot in that year’s Welcome to Rockville),1 and a split with metalcore legends Zao. However, with the tragic death of drummer Seth Howard later that year, you’d be forgiven if you expected Yashira to call it a day. Thankfully, not only did they not do so, but they took their signature blend of sludge and hardcore, and added some off-kilter moods as well, elevating what what they learned from Shrine while taking an intriguing look forward with Fail To Be.

That’s not to say that they’ve stopped leveling bodies into a pulp. Opener “The Constant” sets up Fail To Be nicely with the triple vocal attack and riff assault of bassist Luke Barber and guitarists Dylan Mikos and Connor Anderson taking their Neurosis-by-way-of-Converge formula to disturbing new areas while new drummer Ryan O’Neal throws fill after ridiculous, incredible fill at the listener. But nothing prepares you for immediate follow-up “Shards of Heaven,” which just crushes you under its mammoth weight and execution, and is guaranteed to raze venues at live shows (whenever they happen again). Elsewhere, “Shades Erased” contains one of the most rhythmically hypnotic moments I’ve heard in recent years in the song’s pulsating middle section.

But that’s not to say it’s all doom and sludge. Somehow, Yashira took a page from Voices’ Book of the Bizarre, with some surreal, almost airy passages like those in “Narrowed in Mirrored Light” that, despite not being outwardly heavy, definitely adds to the oppressive atmosphere given off in the album. Elsewhere, closer “Kudzu,” being the longest song at a hair over seven minutes, builds and builds and builds until the song’s explosive final moments before silently fading out to stillness.

Between general work-related chaos, life-related burnout, and year-end lists being finalized around the time of its release, I sadly couldn’t give Fail To Be a proper review in time, as this album clearly not only deserved to be mentioned on some year-end lists in 2020,2 but also deserves to be heard by anyone with even a lick of passion for all things heavy and monolithic. Fail To Be serves not only as a fitting tribute to a fallen bandmate and friend, but also as an impressive sign of growth from a tremendously talented band still in its early stages. Don’t sleep on this.

Tracks to Check Out: “The Constant,” “Shards of Heaven,” “Impasse,” “Shades Erased,” “Narrowed in Mirrored Light,” and “Kudzu”

Show 2 footnotes

  1. “Jacksonville’s Premier Rock Festival”… which is no longer held in Jacksonville. Don’t even get me started on that…
  2. That’s what my 2021 list will be for. Besides, it’s not like I haven’t done that before.
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