Azusa perfect an expansive, all-encompassing sound in which tradition spins on its head and heavy music gets made new. The band’s debut full length Heavy Yoke twists and turns through an exhilarating sonic unease.
Each track heaves along as vocalist Eleni Zafriadou leads the charge, delivering a sinister take on fronting “heavy metal.” She sounds as willing to spare her voice and present careful, almost fanciful, free spirited work as she is to delve straight into the sludgy depths.
She’s accompanied by guitar work that sounds unique to say the least. That aspect of the band’s music feels reliant on a beat of sorts, more than treading some particular, already set line. Instead of relying on melodic convention, Azusa tap into the metaphorical heart beat of the world around us. It feels at times, and anyone who’s spent any time looking around knows how diseased (and more musically speaking, chaotic and dissonant) that heart truly is.
At the same time, though, there remains an important beauty. In the music itself Azusa crafts, there’s a mind bending, horizon expanding contrast between the incessant, seriously jagged (but dynamic, “alive”) snaps of the guitar and bass and the overall thread on which the music sits. That “thread” presents somewhat like the profile of a mountain range, and no two mountain ranges are the same. Instead, each range, like Heavy Yoke, proves a huge and truly unpredictable experience.
Like the contrasting music, Zafriadou’s vocals twist in the listener’s mind. She’s loud but careful, delivering substantive screams that blend with the music into a punch that knocks the listener off their feet.
The unique time signatures and musical sideroads Azusa take set them apart. Their work sticks out as complex and demanding multiple listens. There’s little like Heavy Yoke out there, but its whirlpool sucks you in all the same. They feel as though they’re truly redefining each aspect of the traditional modern musical presentation. They’ve let music free, and upon its newfound freedom, it’s burst into a twisted monster that won’t easily be dismissed; you’re just going to want to “understand” it and be on its good side.