I'm not sure what it says about my character, but I'm a big fan of sissy Metal. You know, stuff like AGALLOCH, GREEN CARNATION, WINDS - the sort of Metal that you can fall asleep to. Every once in a while, though, I do get the urge to lock the doors, pull the blinds and put on something blastingly heavy in order appease that sadistic fan of Death and Black Metal that lurks deep within my psyche. Yeah, I might not know squat when it comes to those genres, but it's good to go outside of your comfort zones once in a while. Occasionally, upon doing so, you might find something worthwhile. In the case of YYRKOON, I'd like to think that I found just that. Not mindblowing or awe-inspiring, mind you, but worthwhile nonetheless.
My only prior experience with YYRKOON was seeing a member of fellow Frenchmen CARNIVAL IN COAL wear their shirt in a photo in the liner notes of "Fear Not." After the so-so twenty-second atmospheric introduction "Something Breathes," I got my first taste of what this band was about in the form of the title track, "Unhealthy Opera." Mid-paced, semi-groovy Death Metal is the name of the game here, reminding me a bit of later BEHEMOTH, though a little less intense. Interspersed throughout the record are a small handful of acoustic interludes and, on the other extreme, a few forays into Brutal Death Metal. The band never gets too heavy, but instead keeps a very steady, rocking pace. Standing out from the rest of the album is closer "Signs," which finds YYRKOON taking on a more Melodic Death approach, dropping the deep growl in favour of a more IN FLAMES-ish growl/rasp and adding in some clean vocals during the chorus. Despite the stylistic departure on this track, I'd have to say that it's one of the strongest cuts on the album.
Lyrically, "Unhealthy Opera" focuses on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, as one might expect after taking a quick glance at the song-titles. The production is rather clear, giving the recording a crisp and modern-sounding touch that, while sacrificing a bit of that "raw" appeal, definitely makes the riffs and vocals hit harder. On the downside, there really isn't a whole lot here that a devout Death Metaller hasn't heard elsewhere. For someone like me, who isn't as familiar with the genre, YYRKOON serves as a nice and accessible catharsis for those occasional Death Metal cravings, but those who know the genre inside and out might find little of interest here.
Though YYRKOON should be nominated for Lamest Album Title of the Year Award, they have released a solid album in the form of "Unhealthy Opera", one which has appeal across the board and will undoubtedly be enjoyed by even those who don't often venture into the dark realms of Death Metal. (Online April 29, 2006)