Release Date: Sep 2, 2014
Record label: Neurot
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
It’s been over forty years since Black Sabbath, Pentagram, and their kin founded the Church of Doom, one of metal’s oldest and most enduring houses of blasphemy. These days, metal’s gnarled family tree has blossomed into a dizzying number of subgenres, but almost all of it comes back to doom, regardless of tempo or texture. Doom may center itself around stoned stupor, Satanic camp, and sick riffage, but it also possesses a meditative musical mode buried deep inside it, a glassy-eyed glance into life’s grimmest mysteries.
Since reforming in 2008 after a year of being formally out of commission, the identity and future of YOB has seemed in a state of flux. Led by Mike Scheidt and joined, in the current incarnation, by drummer Travis Foster and bassist Aaron Rieseberg, YOB released a drone-heavy, wandering record as their comeback in 2009's The Great Cessation, and 2011's Atma was as raw and writhing as the previous effort was drawn and heaving. With Clearing the Path to Ascend, there is a definitive sense of confidence, of peace and authority that formally announces that the Oregon doom lords have assumed their throne once again.
The first words uttered on Yob’s long awaited new album are “time to wake up”. From there, the acoustic guitar intro to In Our Blood briefly aids the transition from slumber to fully awake before the crushing overdriven guitars of Mike Scheidt begin slowly pummelling with grievous intent. As a wakeup call, it’s a little like drawing back the curtains and finding that the world is in the process of being devastated by a meteor strike.
“Time to wake up,” goes the chilly, sampled voice at the start of “In Our Blood,” the opening track of Yob’s latest album, Clearing The Path To Ascend. Coming from a band so adept at hypnosis, it’s a jarring command. On the Portland group’s last full-length, 2011’s Atma, each song rippled and writhed like coiled lightning being slowly unspooled.
Earth and Yob are both trios from the Pacific Northwest led by middle-aged men with some kind of attachment to the riffs and textures of early metal, a preference for slow tempos and some implicit understanding of songs as life-forms, with all the action at the deep center. Which is to say that sometimes in Earth’s “Primitive and Deadly” and Yob’s “Clearing the Path to Ascend” — most times, really — the beginning and the end are phases of warming up and warming down, while the middles are rich and complicated. And so, the listening experience is always a gradual procedure, never everything at once.