It’s a little alarming sitting down to Toronto-based Ayahuasca’s latest LP Yin. The album carries a lot more mood and presence than most hardcore or metal releases, and manages to explore territory in ways that summon up memories of Tool and Neurosis records, while still managing to keep itself anchored in the dingy, grungy territory that has come to mark Toronto bands of late. But perhaps it’s greatest achievement is to create a metal album that isn’t an exhausting, repetitive listen. Each song is a cohesive, beautiful exploration of an aural landscape, soaring above the listener much like its album namesake. This sounds like high praise, and let me clarify: it is.

Ayahuasca manage to explore dark territory with bombast that at times rivals Muse, while still managing to remain original and oddly sweet. Perhaps this last point is what separates this album from the rest of the pack in terms of sonic appreciation. While the rest of the GTA is in a consistent arms race when it comes to delivering crushing punishment (Exalt comes to mind as a recent example), Ayahuasca delivers a wholly involved package that is experimental, beatific, and exhilarating, which is what makes its punishing parts all the more riveting, when they do come. And it takes some time, specifically by the time “Carbon” plays, the seventh track on the recording. Of course, once the heavy drone of riffage fades out, another gulp of intensity rises with “Left Skull Prison”, one of the best songs and which contains one of the most crushing riffs on the album.

Simply put, Yin is a riveting listen, and manages to draw the listener in and reward them for their time, because the deeper you delve, the more sinister and ominous the album gets, while managing to stay afloat with the remarkable vocal talents on display. I’m most enamoured with this last aspect, despite my initial reservations, which at first dredged up painful memories of fantasy metal, but soon managed to exert itself as an instrument itself, composed in choral arrangements that help elevate the musical prowess on display. Such prowess manages to capably integrate 2-step blast beats with electronic twinklings and sludge-infused guitar work, without coming off pretentious or trying. It simply works, and that is the work of some very accomplished musicians.

Yin Track Listing:

01. The Dodged Now
02. Born Into A Sadness Machine
03. Yin
04. Dark Matter God
05. Dinosaurs
06. Mange
07. Carbon
08. Left Skull Prison
09. Collapse Of A Lifelong Lie
10. You, The Siren And The Endless Void
11. Mountain Of Snakes
12. White Ship

Run Time: 56:39
Release Date: September 09, 2016

Check out “Yin”