Review: Yashin - The Renegades (2016)
Never have I paid much attention to Yashin. In their past I saw them as as nothing more than a Mediocre Post-Hardcore at their best. To boot they never seemed to have much of a budget to record with, and I found much of their work to be unlistenable not simply because of the songwriting, but because of the crackling and pop of poorly mixed induced digital distortion. However now that they have acquired a new guitarist, and took a solid 4 year break from releases, they decided to have a facelift that was more substantial than a simply a new band member. Sporting fancy sponsorship by Sony International Germany for this fresh 2016 release, this record sounds more massive than anything that this group has put out in their past.
With the loss of a core member, and an addition of a new musical family member, it's always a real risk when you make a comeback. Especially in a genre like post-hardcore which has been so heavily oversaturated and over done. However, with this change, it has come for the better, and their sound and songwriting have vastly improved. The addition of rolling groovy guitar lines, featuring an almost southern metal or metalcore influenced tinge, something was almost unheard of in their previous discography, really helps evolve the sound of the band. And the guitar change doesn't change there. A clear extreme metal influence can be heard throughout the entire album, with shredding almost djent styled guitars roaring through the heavier tracks, allowing for frequent buildups of heavily screamed sections.
And that's not the only thing that really stands out. It's not just within the guitars that the tone of the albums take a more metallic direction, but the overall vocal work and tone of the songs has a far more aggressive stance than their previous stuff, especially in comparison to the previous release their 2012 album We Created A Monster which felt very much like a push towards full pop music. Screams become something heavily present on the album, not that they were absent before, but they seem almost to be on the forefront on this release, matching the presence of clean vocals on some tracks. And they aren't poorly placed either, perfectly adding to the dynamic of the tracks, the playback back and forth between clean and screamed vocals really adds something to the band. Honestly, as both a metal fan, but also a fan of pop music, this mastery of sonic fusion I feel has truly completed their sound as band that has something to offer
However despite this more metallic direction that they have taken, they have not abandoned their pop roots at all. If anything they have found a better way to demonstrate their sound by placing it in between more contrasting sonic elements. And the elements that they take that are metallic, are just as often played in a hard rock or groove metal sort of direction, which overall evolve the direction of the sound instead of drastically take it. Also, to the great relief of anyone reading this, the post-hardcore elements have not been removed, or really minimized to a great extent. I feel after repeat listens that the have well balanced the newly focused on metal/groove elements with the more traditional style post-hardcore melodies. And of course, quite expectedly, the songs still often feature soaring near pop punk style choruses, never keeping you far from familiar.
Also worth mentioning, the label support they have received has obviously given them access to a real production team to help mix and produce the record; and it truly comes through with polish and clarity of the sound of the album. In past releases I always seemed to notice a thinness to the guitar and vocal tone, and an overall blur to the mix. Listening back, that is pretty much completely gone in this album, with every note and melody being well articulated, as well as the lyrics being forefront in their larity, with no matter how croony or screamed a section is having it be quite distinctly audible. A poorly mixed record makes something hard to honestly review. So, props to this band, and their team, for making a modern metal record that doesn't actually sound like "tin".
Overal, a good way to kick in 2016 ,I can say right now that I thoroughly enjoyed this release if you cannot already tell by my above statements. However that being said, the album wasn't perfect. Despite the obvious progression and maturity in their sound, the elements have all been clearly done to death by other bands in genres similar to what they are attempting to pursue now. Somewhere in between Asking Alexandria and Bullet For My Valentine, this band isn't breaking any new grounds. Yes, they are filling a nice void left by Attack Attack, something that bands like Burden of the Day don't quite do with their intense and and times overbearing pop punk influence, but with the lack of any prominent electronic elements or progressive song structure the band at times comes across as unoriginal.
But... who said originality was everything? Especially in genre music. It's hard to make something "new" in an age when all the notes have been played, and all the sounds have been made. So, unoriginality aside, this was a fantastically played and recorded album.
What would I like to see from the band in the future? There was some really cool symphonic/electronic elements in Vultures and Circle the Sun, as well as in scattered elements through other tracks. I would love to see them experiment with more progressive song structures, and maybe include more foreign instruments and sounds. Everyone tours with a laptop these days, it's really easy to have a backing track playing additional elements when you're touring. It's not like you have to bring a symphony, or hire a full time keyboardist. Just saying.
I give them album a rating of 87%, or a 4/5.
Highlights: The Beginning of the End, Dorothy Gale (feat. Itch), D.E.A.D. (New Version), Vultures, Circle The Sun
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