If there is one band who have been burning their own path through the thicket of 2020’s closely packed despair, it’s Yatra. The Maryland-blackened sludge band, summoned and controlled by the magician-supreme Dana Helmuth, has released three full-lengths in the last two years, each of comparable strength and duration.
Of these, All is Lost is only the second of these tomes conjured from the depths of the swamps of the River Styx this year.
This is a young band. Helmuth has been in other projects like Blood Raven, but Yatra are very new to the scene. When it would seem the band should still get getting their footing, they’ve instead already broken into a sprint. Ah, shambling abominations such as these grow up very fast these days. It’s understandable with all of the human misery they have to feed off. It’s a wonder they don’t get bigger, faster, frankly.
All is Lost doesn’t represent a great departure from its predecessor. You’re still going to hear the bleak, slimy croak of Helmuth’s diaphragm-distending death bellow over a churning maelstrom of man-swallowing sludge-grind and black metal. Think Carcass performing emergency surgery on the Buzz Osborne without anesthetic in a natural depression in the floor of a cave, converted into an operating theater, with Dark Throne peaking over Bill Steer and Jeff Walker’s shoulders and giving notes on how to maximize the pain of the procedure. If you’re unfamiliar with Yatra’s sound, it’s like that, but dirtier, and functioning while on way more hallucinogens.
A doped-up bitterness and fever addled anger, one that causes you to slowly rake your teeth against one and other until they become smooth, rounded pearls, is the more or less the mood I’d attribute to All is Lost. From the acid-rain pocked, living-tomb, mind-splunk of the opener and title-track with its blustery, black metal flash-freeze of its intro to the gooey, soul staining quality of its grooves, on through to the latter half, where the blues rafting “‘Twas the Night,” with guitars that pierce the night sky with sour starlight as it sweeps you away on a buoyant current of gelatinous melancholy, ending with the mountain folk avalanche of “Northern Lights.”
In between, you’ll encounter the charcoaled, hard-blues, burial marsh “Tyrant Throne,” which echoes with a sound that reminds one of what Crowbar might unleash if they pried open Enslave’s creative vault and stole everything that wasn’t fixed to the floor.
There is also a willful dosing of psychedelia on All is Lost, an aspect of Yatra’s sound that wasn’t specifically notable on their previous efforts, but which emerges here on tracks like “One of the Mountain,” which sound like Alice in Chains speaking in a tongue that only the Devil understands.
Elsewhere, these lysergic tendencies are cut with bone broth for a paganized outburst of agony, such as on the gouging dirge “Eyes of Light” and the dank and hazy, ogre-riff caravan “Blissful Wizard.”
On All is Lost, Helmuth proves for a second time this year that no amount of misfortunate or cosmic disarray is capable of diverting her from her and Yarta’s all-consuming campaign of triumph in decay. Another fatally potent example of the cross-pollination of extreme influences producing something that could quell the fires of hell with its malevolent voice and force of intention. Humanity may be entering its twilight, but Yatra continues to prove that they have the strength to endure.
Photos courtesy of Yatra