I was excited the first time the band Yojimbo popped onto my radar. Yojimbo, if you don’t know, is the name of an incredible classic samurai movie, and it provided the framework for the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars.
Although the Japanese Doom scene is undoubtedly strong, I wasn’t exactly sure what Yojimbo would sound like. Here was a French band sharing names with an international cinematic classic about samurai. Would the band somehow manage to bake that influence into their sound?
Not quite, it turns out.
Self-described as “intergalactic Stoner Rock,” Yojimbo sounds almost like a refreshed version of old-school Puta Volcano (think Represent Victory Below Eye and The Sun). Driven by deep, powerful female vocals, frenetic lead guitars, and a forceful rhythm section, Yojimbo is a thrilling band with unpredictable songs.
Yojimbo is a band from Strasbourg, France, and it was founded in the Spring of 2019.
Since the beginning, the band has focused on catchy licks, Doom-inspired riffs, and Post Rock ambiance.
Their self-titled EP was recorded and mixed by Samuel Kapoor.
Yojimbo EP Review
Release Date: March 26, 2022
Track 1: Kingdom
“Kingdom” starts with an acoustic guitar backed by a recording of the “That’s one small step for man” soundbite from Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon. Interestingly, though, Yojimbo uses a much longer clip, so the beginning of the audio track may sound unfamiliar to some listeners.
Fittingly, the song really picks up after “…one giant leap for mankind,” channeling every bit of the band’s “intergalactic Stoner Rock” with powerful riffs and cosmic energy. The vocals, of course, are strong—much like Anna Papathanassiou of Puta Volcano.
Track 2: Battlefield
One of the most electrifying tracks on the EP, “Battlefield” features an intricate primary riff in the lead guitar, impressive layered vocals, and a massive time signature shift that launches the song into the stratosphere.
Track 3: The Fear Still Grows
Like “Kingdom,” “The Fear Still Grows” opens with soundbites—but these are much more dismal. Featuring George W. Bush announcing the war on Iraq, news clips about war, chants of “No peace,” and Donald Trump releasing the National Guard, “The Fear Still Grows” is an overwhelming collection of conflict that lasts for nearly two minutes before the band comes in.
Sonically, “The Fear Still Grows” contains elements of Prog Rock and Post Rock, with flourishing guitar licks and big, palm-muted riffs. While the instrumentation here is impressive, I have a feeling this is one song that would sound more impactful live, with the full force of the band right in your face.
Track 4: Devil’s Dance
“Devil’s Dance” is easily the best song on the record. With its upbeat riff, cleverly layered guitars, and tight rhythm section, “Devil’s Dance” is simply exciting—and it has enough gusto that it should please a wide variety of music fans. And, like “Battlefield,” “Devil’s Dance” effectively uses time signatures to drive movement and emotion.
Track 5: Last Mile
Slow and lumbering, “Last Mile” attacks like a monster in the woods, stomping through the trees in search of prey. Appropriately, one of the most prominent lines of the song is, “You can run, but you can’t hide.”
Like “The Fear Still Grows,” “Last Mile” likely sounds heavier live, but this is still a cool and impactful track filled with Metal attitude.
Final Thoughts on the Yojimbo EP
Standout Tracks: “Battlefield” and “Devil’s Dance”
Pros: When I first read the “Intergalactic Stoner Rock” descriptor, I figured this could be another typical Psychedelic Stoner Rock project, falling somewhere in the same arena as Astroqueen, AAWKS, Nebula, or Psychlona.
But that’s not the case at all.
Yojimbo is fresh, inventive, and unpredictable, relying on time signatures, quick guitar flourishes, and a massive array of riffs to keep their debut EP exciting. Yojimbo, the EP, feels like few other projects in the scene, so keep the band on your radar for future releases.
Cons: As a band wielding “Intergalactic Stoner Rock,” you’d want the EP to feel a little heavier, to physically bowl you over through your ears. But (much like the Puta Volcano projects we mentioned earlier) this EP is lithe, even at its heaviest. A remix could help in beefing up the EP’s raw power—and there’s certainly plenty of it there.