|Years active 1999–present|
Members James Staffel
|Origin Chicago, Illinois, United States|
Past members Eric Plonka Eric Clark Jackson
Record labels Profound Lore Records, Century Media Records, Prosthetic Records
Genres Avant-garde metal, Experimental rock, Punk jazz, Progressive metal
Albums Way of the Dead, Of Seismic Consequence, Amount to Nothing, Transmutations, Beyul
Yakuza is an avant-garde metal band, formed in Chicago in 1999. They have been acclaimed for their incorporation of jazz and world music elements.
Yakuza was formed in 1999. The band debuted with its independently released album Amount to Nothing in 2000. The album was met with acclaim from Terrorizer and the Chicago Sun Times. Yakuza followed its release with a tour alongside Candiria and Burnt by the Sun, eventually leading to a slot on the Vans Warped Tour.
Such exposure led to a record contract and the release of their second album, Way of the Dead, through Century Media Records in 2002. Yakuza then shared the stage with Opeth, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Lacuna Coil and Mastodon. Jazz musician Ken Vandermark guests on the record (a unique live performance from 2002 is on YouTube). While the band received critical acclaim, the record failed to meet sales expectations; as a result, Way of the Dead was the only Century Media release. Eric Plonka parted ways in 2002 to start scientist. In 2005, the band signed with Prosthetic Records; in 2006, Samsara was released.
Samsara was recorded by Matt Bayles (Isis, Botch, Pearl Jam) at Volume Studios in Chicago. Yakuza enlisted a wide variety of musical guests on the album, including pianist Jim Baker, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, Sanford Parker, and Mastodon’s Troy Sanders.
Yakuza released Transmutations in 2007. This album incorporates more psychedelic elements alongside stretching, doomy movements and the jazz influences, while also incorporating breakneck grind riffs and grooves. The album features guest performances by world-renowned jazz percussionists Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang. This is unique for the fact that the two rarely play together, except during their annual "Winter Solstice Performances" in Chicago.
In 2010, the band released Of Seismic Consequence, their first album for Profound Lore Records.
In 2012 the band released Beyul again for Profound Lore Records.
The Prosthetic record label describes them this way:
Staying deeply rooted in a genre all its own, YAKUZA’s existence lies on a metal base with progressive flair, while somehow also incorporating elements of jazz, world beat, and post-rock ambience.
Influence is also noted from King Crimson, John Coltrane, Tortoise, and Napalm Death. Bruce Lamont has discussed an appreciation for Pink Floyd, Huun Huur Tu, Peter Brötzmann, Battles, Enslaved, Brighter Death Now, George Orwell, Ethiopian music, and Blut Aus Nord.
Chicago TypewriterWay of the Dead · 2002
VergassoWay of the Dead · 2002
Cancer of IndustrySamsara · 2006