Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot Recordings, 02 September 2014)
Yob – Our Raw Heart (Relapse Records, 08 June 2018)
Oregonian doom trio Yob vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt has always had a distinctive voice. Whether it’s as a member of Lumbar or making a guest appearance with Red Fang or a whole plethora of others, there’s just no mistaking who is singing. Piercing and powerful, like Conan‘s Jon Davis, expressive and emotional like Argus/Molasses Barge‘s Butch Balich, and always just a bit grizzled and weathered like Wino or Lemmy.
But since the last time we heard from these guys (Clearing the Path to Ascend, which in a year filled with tough competition, still came out as our clear #1 album of 2014), some serious health complications cast some doubt as to whether we might ever hear that voice again. You can read all about that journey in this Rolling Stone interview, where the band’s sole remaining founding member (over twenty years ago!) describes his harrowing experiences while also discussing the creation of Our Raw Heart.
The album was “largely penned from what he worried would be his deathbed,” said the magazine, quoting Scheidt as saying, “there was no guarantee that I was going to live long enough to record the album.” Fortunately for himself, his family and friends, and also for everyone on planet earth who has ears, he did survive and he did record the album, which undoubtably will be contending for the same spot in this year’s list. In this post we’ll touch upon that record from four years ago, as well as the follow-up which hits stores TODAY. Furthermore, keep on scrolling to see a list of opportunities North American readers will have to experience Yob live: for one month (starting next Thursday, 14th June) with Bell Witch or again during September with Acid King and CHRCH.
Clearing the Path to Ascend consists of just four tracks, but with the average length exceeding a quarter of an hour, there’s plenty to fall in love with here. Just like Pallbearer at their very best (or several other contemporary epic doom artists who surely found a great source of inspiration in Yob), these drawn-out compositions often start out mellow (or return to a quieter, mellower place midway through, or sometimes both) but then the sky breaks open with huge, slow and distorted riffs; and enormous soaring vocals, full of vibrato and seeming ghostly or even angelic at times. Not forgetting that they are a metal band, there are clearly some more aggressive moments here: the vocals sporadically will change over to a vicious, deep roar; and second track “Nothing to Win” starts off a bit faster, with almost a black metal tremolo-galloping feel to it.
Nothing here is overly fancy: the guitar riffs are often little more than simple and repetitive sequences of chords (see “Unmask the Spectre,” for example), but so expressively performed that they will nevertheless drill themselves into your head forever. Closing track “Marrow” (the longest to be found here, at nearly nineteen minutes) is a definite highlight, quiet and mellow but at the same time regal-sounding. Kind of a stuttering time signature change in the turnaround between stanzas is a bit reminiscent of a similar technique used in songs like “Who Are You?” or “Solitude,” which seems strangely apropos, since the vocals here could almost be compared with that band’s. If their singer was far more talented, that is.
Our Raw Heart runs even longer than its predecessor, this time giving us seven whole tracks, while the average length dips just a bit, to a little under eleven minutes. If there was any fear about what the band would sound like in their comeback moment, that is quickly dissipated as soon as opening track “Ablaze” begins: here is the epic doom we’ve come to expect, in a very serious tone. And that amazing singing comes in after the first two minutes, like nothing has changed at all.
The same type of dynamic range is present throughout this album: the relatively shorter (under six minutes long!) “Lungs Reach,” mostly instrumental and full of spacious atmosphere, brings in some wicked roared vocals later (“Original Face” also sounds heavier, gruffer; and “The Screen” puts aggressive vocals over a matching backing track, ten full minutes of heavy metallic chugging). But on the other side of the spectrum, if you thought Yob were known for expressiveness and emotion BEFORE…
Just after seven minutes into “Ablaze” the song turns quieter, allowing the vocals to really stand out: fragile, beautiful, and clearly full of pain. Similarly, two of the album’s longest tracks (“Beauty in Falling Leaves” and the title track, which closes out the album with a bit of an uplifting psychedelic trip) are both filled to the brim with just absolutely fucking gorgeous melody.
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YOB Summer 2018 Tour Dates
w/ Bell Witch:
June 14 Oklahoma City OK – 89th Street
June 15 Austin TX – Austin Terror Fest
June 16 Little Rock AR – Mutants of the Monster 2018
June 17 Memphis TN – Hi Tone
June 19 Birmingham AL – Saturn
June 20 Atlanta GA – The Earl
June 22 Orlando FL – SoundBar
June 23 Wilmington NC – Reggies
June 24 Asheville NC – Mothlight
June 25 Raleigh NC – King’s
June 27 Baltimore MD – Metro
June 28 New York NY – Le Poisson Rouge
June 29 Philadelphia PA – Underground Arts
June 30 Boston MA – Middle East
July 02 Montreal QC – La Sala Rosa
July 03 Ottawa ON – Mavericks
July 04 Toronto ON – Mod Club
July 06 Pittsburgh PA – The Rex Theatre (w/ Urns)
July 07 Detroit MI – El Club
July 08 Chicago IL – Reggies
July 09 Chicago IL – Reggies
July 10 St. Paul MN – Turf Club
July 11 Omaha NE – Lookout Lounge
July 12 Denver CO – Bluebird Theatre
July 13 Salt Lake City UT – Urban Lounge
July 14 Boise ID – Neurolux
w/ Acid King and CHRCH:
September 6 Sacramento CA – Harlow’s
September 7 Santa Cruz CA – Catalyst
September 8 Pioneertown CA – Pappy & Harriet’s
September 9 Los Angeles CA – Teragram Ballroom
September 12 Albuquerque NM – Sister
September 13 Mesa AZ – Club Red
September 14 San Diego CA – Brick by Brick
September 15 Oakland CA – Metro