Following their widely praised Terraform album of June 2021, Bristol’s post-grungers YO NO SE will return on the 28th of January 2022 with their new full-length album “Momento Mori”. As the band explains on their Bandcamp, the album is a collection of eight songs, mastered by none other than the great Jack Endino, some of which were left out of the Terraform sessions, one cover and some new tunes recorded during the first UK lockdown.
Musically, Momento Mori carries forth the greatly successful blend of stoner grunge that the band explored in Terraform. Having said that though, it should be clear that first and foremost YO NO SE are a grunge band. For all their stoner rock overtones and some post-rock touches, they are primarily children of the punk rock universe of the Seattle sound that lives inside lesser glorified songs like Nirvana’s “Even in His Youth” and Green River’s “Swallow My Pride”.
Through that lens, “Born to Struggle” starts with a clever wink to Nirvana’s “Dive”; yet, very quickly the distinct songwriting of YO NO SE takes over, with a melody that draws equally on the driving riffs of TAD and the melodies of The Meat Puppets. Next come songs like “Doldrums” and “Numb” revealing a side of the band that was previously only touched upon in songs like the self-titled “Terraform”, but never actually explored until now. The end result are two great acoustic orchestrations, with etherial vocals and a beautiful cello on “Doldrums”, while “Numb” brings together eastern melodies and the vocal lamentations of Joy Division.
Of the tunes included in this album, if I had to guess, I ‘d say that “Nova” and “Touching the Stone” are two of the songs that were left out of the Terraform sessions. They are certainly the songs where I feel that the band’s unique identity truly comes alive and I ‘d love to hear more in that vein from the band in the future.
Up next is “Poison”, where YO NO SE’s Alex Studer delivers an electrifying solo version of an original by Bert Jansch, of whom (to my utter shame) I had never heard of until now, but I shall forever be thankful to the band for introducing me to his music. The album closes with “Spit Lube”, a punk rock song that shifts gears midway to give us its 70s prog credentials, making The Wipers and Fang shake hands with Jethro Tull.
In all, whereas the latin phrase “Memento Mori” serves as a remembrance of the certainty of death, with YO NO SE’s “Momento Mori”, we can start all over, again and again, every time that we play the album. This album will not change your worldview, nor will it reinvent rock as we know it. It captures a moment of the band in time, and creates a solid bridge for their stoner grunge to come. And if I ‘m honest, I can hardly wait!
Words by Ioannis Valiakos