The multinational band Azusa have crafted a poignant, startling testament to the emotionally gripping power of extreme music on their new album Loop of Yesterdays, which is available now via Solid State Records in the U.S. and Indie Recordings in Europe, who both also helped release the group’s debut album Heavy Yoke in 2018. Azusa features a highly experienced roster of musicians, including guitarist Christer Espevoll and drummer David Husvik of the progressive metal group Extol, bassist Liam Wilson of mathcore heroes The Dillinger Escape Plan, and singer Eleni Zafiriadou of the indie pop group Sea + Air. There are really no cracks in the presentation of the members’ latest work; all of the musicians’ backgrounds and strengths feel strikingly unified in Loop of Yesterdays.
The record hinges on a heavy, mathcore-esque sense of intricate yet pummeling riffing and overall instrumentation, but at the same time, Loop of Yesterdays presents so much more than just those elements. Zafiriadou, for example, frequently sings quite accessibly, which makes for a jarring yet immersively rich contrast with the ferocious music.
Within the first minute of the album alone, Azusa have already wheeled out a staggering dynamic range, from soft singing alongside wisps of guitar to absolutely blistering instrumentation alongside shredding, roared vocals. The band unite their disparate sonic threads with a very real and very tangible-feeling energy that courses inescapably through the mix. Whether they’re performing the gentlest wisps of sound imaginable like on the gentle, contemplative title track or unveiling one of the absolutely devastating onslaughts of sound that pockmark the record elsewhere, Azusa always sound like there’s a bubbling passion pushing along the notes. The rapid yet engaging dynamic shifts also help keep the physical and emotional energy of the album up.
Frequently, the band hinge their sound on very heavy guitar pummeling, like that which opens and runs through much of the roaring track “Detach.” That particular song features gutturally heavy guitar chugging that eventually evolves into more wistful, solo-esque riffing. The band’s rich drum patterns also get chances to shine especially brightly, like on the song “Seven Demons Mary,” on which a captivatingly energetic drum rhythm figures prominently in the mix. The elements, chaos and all, frequently come together quite poignantly, like on standout track “Monument,” as lightning strikes of heavy riffing flash across the song while thunderous drums rumble on in the background. Zafiriadou gives a majestic intensity to the whole arrangement with her dramatically intense singing.
Even amidst the dizzying cacophony of sounds that the band pile atop their foundation of hard-hitting, meaty riffing, Azusa feel quite direct, thanks in no small part to the inescapable energy of Loop of Yesterdays. The dynamic swings and the gut-punching riffs feel strangely organic, as if the swirling sound patterns capture very real-life patterns of energy.