Released: 2014, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Even though the legendary early '80s Heavy Sound Festivals in Poperinge – home of an equally legendary triennial Beer and Hop Festival I was lucky enough to attend in 2005 - helped launch Slayer and Metallica onto the international scene, Belgium itself hasn't been much of a breeding ground for metal. Aborted, Enthroned and Leng Tch'e are about the only bands of genuine note from there at present – although if power metal is your thing, there's also Iron Mask. So it would seem Charleroi-based newbies Yata have their work cut out for them.
The quintet are new enough that there's precious little info about them on the Interwebs, even their own Facebook page, other than they are a self-described “pure groove metal” band influenced by Killswitch Engage, Machine Head, Chimaira, Devildriver and Trivium. And their self-released, seven-track debut EP – six, you discount the short, appropriately titled “Intro” - sounds like a band trying to find their footing, offering the sort mish-mash one might expect given their collection of influences.
Yata certainly can bring the groove. Crunching hooks and punchy rhythms abound here, and after a somewhat disjointed start, the band get cooking midway through on “Destroy Rebuilt” with its dueling guitars and rivet gun drums. The surging, thrashier “Revenge” actually smacks a bit of Slipknot or In Flames when they got all nu metal, as does the closing track “The Smile's Virus” which adds a bit of industrial-strength clangor.
From a musical standpoint, E.P.O. is relatively solid. Guillaume Gailly's flashy, limber drumming keeps the tempos lively and loose and Carl Gomez and Logan Dandois' gnashing riffs bite hard. Where the band struggle is in the vocal/arrangement department. Fabian Pigneur's raspy/barking delivery is pretty harsh and one-dimensional, and perhaps better suited to death metal or hardcore. And the good cop/bad cop tradeoffs and awkward clean-sung choruses on tracks like “Individual Positivity” never really work. More often than not, they seem out of place, overdone or obvious.
So while groove is Yata's strong point, they've got a few things left to learn about melody and balance. Things work best here when the band are at their most aggressive. And they deliver enough hooks to keep things catchy without the need for clean vocal clichés. Lord knows there's enough of that to go around already.