Yyrkoon - Occult Medicine
Osmose Productions
Death/Thrash Metal
11 songs (46'21")
Release year: 2005
Osmose Productions
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month
Yyrkoon. This French band has a funny name, but it surely means serious business. The promo sheet says the band was created in 1995 and started playing a mix of heavy and black metal. 1996 demo Oath, Obscure, Occult … had female voice, violin and flute. Good riddance to all that stuff! It could have been their loss, but it certainly is our gain that Yyrkoon ditched all that sensual crap which was trying to marry their interest in occultism and horror/fantasy with their music. On Occult Medicine Yyrkoon is still delving into horror and mysticism with the subject story line. The music, however, is some old school death metal with a modern production, played with enthusiasm and technicality. And what a great album this is!

Stephane Souteyrand (guitars, vocals) has endured plenty, and perseverance paid off. Line-up juggles were no strangers to early Yyrkoon. Stephane wasn’t even singing on those early demos. Instead he was playing keyboards in addition to guitars. Well, those days are all distant memory. Having partnered with a friend Jeff Gauthier (guitars) and Victo on bass, Yyrkoon has landed the biggest coup in securing Dirk Verbeuren services on drums for Occult Medicine. Dirk is a drummer for French thrashers Scarve, another noteworthy band, and recently has been recruited by Soilwork which should speak to the man’s abilities.

Yyrkoon's English lyrics may not be that loquacious but they tell the story nonetheless. Occult Medicine is about some psycho doctor dabbling into occult and other moribund experiments. What tells a better story is Yyrkoon’s music. I hardly recall an album that on the first few listens has captivated me so much from start to finish, from the first monumental layered riffs of Doctor X to the drum outro of Erase the Past. Yyrkoon’s brand of death metal has massive riffs which are very subliminally repeated at the beginning and end of songs (Doctor X, Reversed World), groove either layered atop of a superfast snare a la Kataklysm (Doctor X) or more settled in a la Illdisposed (Blasphemy). When medical device “beeping” intro of the title track ends, the militaristic marching is orgasmic and rivals that of Amon Amarth. Surgical Distortion has interesting, almost Eastern style, rhythms, and Schyzophrenic Carnage has a hint of black metal melody. Reversed World is a catchy bouncy thrash song, the likes of which The Haunted used to play. And if anything, the beginning of Censored Project has to be Carcass Heartwork reincarnated, not ripped off, mind you, but it gives a nod to the masters.

To maintain variety the band infuses just about every song with technical leads, which can be incredibly melodic and harmonized (title track, Revenant Horde) or bursting with dissonance from within (Blasphemy). Yyrkoon seems to enjoy playing these leads, reveling in technicality, just like Atheist used to. In how the power, groove and harmonious leads combine to make a whole, Yyrkoon reminded me slightly of NYDM masters Immolation (their late albums) or Polish monsters Behemoth, maybe because of the way Yyrkoon uses leads and melodies, with both bands acknowledging the innovations of Morbid Angel.

Stephane Souteyrand can be proud of his firebreathing growls, but higher shrieks are not his forte. A smattering of clean vocals on Reversed World doesn’t make much of an impression. Rhythm section is a full blast battery, with Dirk’s feet engaged in seemingly non-stop double bass, while his hands can either fly, groove or do stop’n’gos. It all comes to a head with the final Erase the Past drum outro. How many albums end this way?

I have intentionally interspersed my album with myriad of death metal band references. While not copying any one of those bands in particular Yyrkoon manages to take all those influences and process them into a concoction they can call their own. If you call yourself a fan of any of the aforementioned bands, Yyrkoon will satisfy you, just like it did satisfy me. Jacob Hansen did a fantastic modern day production job and Osmose managed to land a local French winner. Occult Medicine is an early surprise of the year!

Killing Songs :
There are no weak tracks here, but my most favorites are Doctor X, Censored Project, Occult Medicine, Erase the Past
Alex quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Yyrkoon that we have reviewed:
Yyrkoon - Unhealthy Opera reviewed by Alex and quoted 91 / 100
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