Yatra – All is Lost Review

I reviewed Yatra’s debut early last year to a mixed result. Death Ritual was not without promise, but the stoner doom with blackened snarls didn’t quite live up to what it could have been with slightly tepid songwriting. Naturally, I was curious about how their second album, All is Lost, would fare. A year and a half in current conditions is a pretty fast turnaround; the dangers of rushing lurked in the shadows. And that’s when I found out that All is Lost is, in fact, their third album, after releasing Blood of the Night under a different label in January. 8 months gestation, in 2020?! Who do they think they are, Vardan? With apprehension in my heart, barely mitigated by the sweet Girardi cover, I set out to discover whether anything good could come of such a minimal production time…

Lo and behold, not all is lost after all! All is Lost displays a band slowly growing into their sound. The guitar and bass got an extra layer of grime on their strings, befitting the ever gnarly, biting, gnawing screeches that make up the bulk of the vocals. The songwriting is less languid than the debut, too, as the self-titled opening track quickly demonstrates with buzzing tremolos, piledriving drums and a dynamically shifting pace that gives the song unexpected vibrancy. The riffs betray influences from early Mastodon, not a bad choice given Yatra’s style, but the solos still sound more at home in stoner than in sludge, with a lighter 70’s timbre. The combo of the harsh vocals, heavy hooks and stoner undercurrent is the band’s biggest strength, and they are clearly learning to lean more into that aspect of their personality.

Not all of Yatra’s weak points have been eliminated entirely, though attempts have been made. Despite being a recognizable feature, the vocals remain a sore point. The snarling, slobbering hiss doesn’t carry much power and lacks in variety, as the delivery remains the same throughout the running time. Partially as a result of this, some the songs are also too similar to one another. As if attempting to rectify the lack of diversity, there’s the occasional sighting of clean vocals, but they do nothing to improve upon their harsh counterparts. Rather, they exacerbate the comparisons to Mastodon, as the performance in question conjures Brent Hinds after he’s been seriously beaten up and possibly drugged. Its placement in “Tyrant Throne” makes that track a glaring weak spot in the running time, and though I applaud the attempt at diversification, I cannot approve of the result.

But the worst of All is Lost is still better than the worst of Death Ritual, and the same goes for the best of either, as demonstrated by the one-two punch of “Talons of Eagles” and “Eyes of Light.” The former works off the interplay between the riffs and vocals to punctuate one another, while the latter simply conjures up a riffstorm with indomitable energy. Furthermore, the band seems to have recognized that with added grime and aggression, they do better in short bursts. There is no bloat on the skinny 35 minutes here, no fat to cut, and the leanness makes for a better experience. The production, meanwhile, is a little bit of a mixed bag. The grimier sound is great, but the vocals are definitely tuned too high and the master is a tad loud.

Though they haven’t made any giant leaps from their debut, Yatra are clearly seeking for ways to improve even through their apparently murderous recording schedule. All is Lost sees them following a path to a leaner and meaner future, though they follow it with babysteps, not all of which are completely straight, predominantly when it comes to the vocals. Steps forward they be, however, moving from a halfhearted shrug to a confident thumb’s up. If you like your sludge as muddy and dirty as a hooker from Mississippi, Yatra will provide.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Grimoire Records
Websites: yatradoom.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/yatradoom
Releases Worldwide: October 9th, 2020

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