Occult Medicine

Any band using a Michael Moorcock character is OK in my books and where Moorcock sought to invigorate the cliche-ridden, stagnant, Conan knock off fantasy realm, France’s Yyrkoon seek to invigorate death metal, and do so with a measure of success. If like me, you were (or will be) disappointed by Behemoth’s strangely pompous Demigod, I recommend you take this nifty little album for a ride as it combines the same esoteric brutality, rumbling monologues and intellectual turbulence that made Zos Kia Cultus so good.Admittedly death metal is after all, just death metal and has possibly seen its limits all but exhausted, but when preformed as perfectly as Yyrkoon, it makes for a death metal nirvana. With their fourth album (I’m not familiar with their other work, but hope to be soon), Yyrkoon deliver a cerebral yet aptly savage concoction of suitably hefty European death/thrash metal and ample amounts of dizzying technicality that mixes to give a pretty flawless example of modern death metal. Of particular note are some of the mesmerizing Schuldiner-esque solos that rear out of the flames ( “Trapped into Life,” “Schizophrenic Carnage”), as well as some of the menacing lurches that graces most of the tracks (“Doctor X,” “Censored Project,” “Blasphemy,” “Surgical Distortion”) and tracks that merge the two seamlessly (“Occult Medicine,” “Revenant Horde”) As well as stylistic commonalities with Behemoth (both started out as black metal bands), the vocals of Stephane Souteryrand are just as heavily pitched and layered as Nergal’s, throw in session drummer Dirk Verbeuren of Scarve and the rigid thrash backbone of the band is set perfectly.

After the needless intro, “Doctor X” delivers an immediate eye opener of classy, swirling blastbeats and aplomb percussive gusto, and the album never falters through its entirety, essentially delivering a decidedly complete and more importantly, satisfying 46 minutes, the only breather is the lengthy medical intro for the clinical title track. The only minor taints would be the thankfully short but out of place clean vocals used for the chorus of “Reversed World” and “Trapped in Life” but otherwise, they are fine track that display deft skill and a sublime, addictive, melodic brutality I haven’t heard in a long time.

The production is spot on with every instrument rendered clearly and with ample weight and seals the albums overall clout with polish. Occult Medicine is a death metal rarity, an entertaining, complex, brutal and refined effort that shows France, with this fine band well as the likes of Kabbal, 7th Nemesis, Kronos are fast rising in the realms of a previously American and Scandinavian dominated scene.

Highly recommended.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 5th, 2004


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