yambag’s new album mindfuck ultra didn’t have to go this hard

The new Yambag album is so good.

yambag’s new album mindfuck ultra didn’t have to go this hard
Yambag, photo by David Maccluskie

In their new album Mindfuck Ultra, Cleveland hardcore stars Yambag are completely unrelenting. Listeners aren’t afforded a moment to breathe from the album’s first seconds when drummer Drew blots out any crack of dead space with his double bass crush. The vocals sound like a complete meltdown—yammering that sometimes exists in its own context, untethered from the rest of the band. It’s aggressive, yeah, but when they’re in this mode, the members of Yambag ascend to an intangible sphere of hardcore frenzy that’s just beyond reach for listener and bandmate alike.

Vocalist Richard careens out of control on “No End in Sight” as the band seems to barrel past in an adjacent lane, everybody on their own journey but broadly living through the same bullshit. “You want me to take a stand?/You tie me up and expect me to lend a helping hand,” he screams fruitlessly, raging about power dynamics imposed on society as a whole. There’s a pseudo-McGruff on the album cover losing his mind about the end of democracy and “freedumbs,” a cartoon narc whose entire existence was to fight the war on drugs. It reinforces this idea of Yambag as a satire-forward hardcore band, and while that’s very real, something like “No End in Sight” offers some wildly relevant critiques of where shit is landing out there right now. 

That’s all over the place in Mindfuck Ultra. “Party Song” sarcastically revels in the turn-your-brain-off joy of a song that says absolutely nothing, ending with a hearty “shut the fuck up” ostensibly directed at anyone looking to escape while the world burns. “Frye vs Takayama,” so named for a 2002 MMA fight, sounds at once like a tribute to that bout and a commentary on strongman politics. 

The crown jewel of the album is the title track. Here, the band is in lock-step with each other, which means each jarring change-up in percussion and sudden jolts of fuzz feel coordinated. Dude is screaming up front about someone who’s armed, disconnected, and seems to have a dark plan. There’s a repeated quote in there: “Son the things I’ve seen online will make you wonder why.” It’s jarring, heavy music about a civilization where everybody’s going to extreme ends to look out for number one, and it’s a dark realism set to relentlessly burly hardcore. Yambag is a sick band whose name my phone is desperate to autocorrect into all-caps, and frankly, sure: YAMBAG.

Yambag’s new album Mindfuck Ultra is out now on Convulse and 11PM.