Yeti - "Volume, Obliteration, Transendence"
(Life Is Abuse 2004, LIFE 028)

Uploaded to Aural Innovations: July 2004

The brooding specter of Magma hangs ominously over Yeti’s second release, Volume, Obliteration, Transcendence. Strange alchemy is afoot here, including the dark echoes of Lovecraft’s mythos, the grandeur of Wagnerian cosmic opera (albeit transplanted to the post-rock subculture of American hypergothic), the fiery tension/release aesthetic of European avant-jazz, and the darkly nihilistic influence of any number of crypto-fascist death metal mongers. But Christian Vander and Jannick Top are clearly the black Ork twins to whom Yeti bow in awe and reverence and to whom they owe their deepest spiritual allegiance. And as with Magma, there’s no denying that the musicianship displayed on Volume, Obliteration, Transcendence is uniformly impressive, as is the compositional complexity, though neither is any indication of an artist’s fundamental value or merit. At times, one gets the distinct impression that Yeti is trying desperately hard to be divinely outré, daringly malevolent, deathly grim and deadly serious. And there’s no doubt that they often scale these rather lofty pinnacles. The incessant use of compound time signatures, diminished intervals and dissonant chordal clusters lends an oppressive quality to the four extended pieces that make up Volume, Obliteration, Transcendence. Add hellish sub-operatic vocals, a bone-crushing rhythm section, frenzied guitar and the sublime orchestration of icy mellotrons, and it’s easy to see why Yeti delivers a virtual satanic feast of unearthly aural delights. These are the pitch-black anthems Mephistopheles sang into Faust’s ear after the damnation of his wretched soul was complete.

While Yeti more or less eschews the neo-gothic symphonic chamber rock of Art Zoyd and Univers Zero, they compensate for its lack with thundering, monolithic bass (courtesy of Tommy Atkins) and the often Crimsonish guitar of Eric Harris. “Cusp of Something You Don’t Understand” has the signature feel of Magma’s “De Futura” wed to the blazing guitar pyrotechnics of Crimson’s lethal prog classic “Red.” The sometimes whispered, sometimes tortured, vocals remind one of a choir of unrepentant heretics chanting infernal hymns to the Dark one in the ninth circle of Dante’s Inferno. Very effective, very unsettling. “Blood Lotus” is even more sinister, veering at times into the forbidden realms of Black Metal, though without the goofy metaphysic of “pure evil” (usually mistaken for cosmic profundity by an adolescent mentality) that often renders such music unlistenable and laughable. Yeti, however, keeps its fire-and-brimstone sermons under control, opting for numerous key changes and dizzying tempo shifts to mesmerize the demon within. “Black Pills” is an effective grand finale, its darkening landscape muted into crepuscular shades by a bleak largo that allows the frigid synthesizers to drift like disembodied phantoms through the gathering mist of a moon shrouded night. A dirge for the damned, to be sure, and as bible black as anything Magma ever did.

If Yeti has a weakness, it’s surely the band’s relentless seriousness, which can at times become a bit wearisome to the uninitiated—a complaint often lodged against Magma and similarly inspired jackboot iconoclasts. And while this can be a deadly fault, Yeti — like Magma — appears to transcend the crushing gravity of its lead boots, most of the time at least. At the very least, Volume, Obliteration, Transcendence certainly demands careful listening, for the angel of the final hour has at last descended to the black earth, and Yeti is his unholy herald.

For more information you can visit the Yeti web site at:
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Volume, Obliteration, Transendence is distributed by Life Is Abuse. You can visit their web site at:
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Reviewed by Charles Van de Kree

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