Yakuza at the Beat Kitchen


Yakuza is a little unusual for a heavy-metal band — if that’s what you can call it. Lead singer Bruce Lamont also plays sax, an instrument you don’t hear often in metal. It works because Lamont is playing some pretty avant-garde, noisy stuff on that sax. On Saturday night, Yakuza played a show at the Beat Kitchen to celebrate the release of its new CD, Of Seismic Consequence.

If that saxophone wasn’t enough to convince you that this music is maybe a little more prog than your typical metal, there was also the presence of guest cellist Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) on several songs, while Kelly Lamont sang harmony vocals. But Bruce Lamont and some of his bandmates (Matt McClelland and Ivan Cruz) also flung their hair around, with all of the abandon of real headbangers. The one exception was drummer James Staffell, who simply doesn’t have the long locks to fling.

Lamont (who also plays the part of Robert Plant in the tribute band Led Zeppelin II and tends bar at the Empty Bottle) seemed to be possessed at moments, staring intently at his microphone as he sang in a range of styles stretching beyond standard “Cookie Monster” growls. He never let up on the intensity, however. It was an epic performance by Yakuza.

See my photos of Yakuza in concert.

Here’s a promotional video trailer for the new Yakuza album, which comes out June 22 on Profound Lore Records, featuring the band members talking about the album.


Shrinebuilder at the Empty Bottle

I don’t see a lot of heavy-metal concerts … probably because I don’t like heavy metal all that much. But stoner rock — now, that’s something I can get behind once in a while. What’s the difference? Stoner rock is just about as heavy as heavy metal, though at least some of the singers tend to sing, rather than growl or scream.

I’m not sure if Shrinebuilder is heavy metal or stoner rock or some other variety of underground metal, but the group’s self-titled debut album is the sort of hard rock that I actually like — thunderously loud at times, but not continuously screechy. This is a super group of sorts, featuring guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich (from Saint Vitus and the Obsessed), drummer Dale Crover (from the Melvins), bassist Al Cisneros (from Sleep and Om) and guitarist Scott Kelly (from Neurosis).

They played their dramatic songs Saturday night (Nov. 14) at the Empty Bottle, but with little of the onstage dramatic flourishes of classic metal bands. They curled their lips in the occasional snarl, but mostly they just pounded away on their instruments. Weinrich, Cisneros and Kelly took turns signing, and Shrinebuilder benefited from the variety of voices.

The opening band at the late show was a good match with Shrinebuilder — the local metal band Yakuza, which stands out from other headbangers by featuring saxophone alongside the typical shredding guitar riffs. Lead singer Bruce Lamont (whom you may recognize from his work as an Empty Bottle bartender) sang with vocal-cord-shredding intensity whenever he wasn’t wailing on his horns. Yakuza’s music included some touches of prog-rock grandeur. And it was loud.

Photos of Shrinebuilder and Yakuza.