Yob

support Pallbearer
author AP date 18/09/14 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

When Loppen, upon arrival, presents itself as packed as is the case tonight, it is hard to deny the hype and reputation of the band(s) performing. Yob, the evening's headliner, have been forging underground fame since 1996 (though their debut album "Elaborations of Carbon" did not surface until two years after the turn of the Millennium), and are considered by many to be pivotal to the development of the sludge oriented direction of doom metal; and the supporting act, Pallbearer, have quickly established themselves as one of the hottest prospects in the genre through both their excellent live performances, and not least the daunting quality of their two albums thus far, 2012's "Sorrow and Extinction" and this year's "Foundations of Burden". Given Yob's very recent release of their fantastic seventh studio album, "Clearing the Path to Ascend", then, the timing could not be much more perfect to catch two of the utmost purveyors of doom metal performing live, and as a connoisseur of the hazier corners of metal, there was obviously no chance that I would be absent for the occasion.

All photos by Philip B. Hansen @ philipbh.com

Pallbearer

As these Little Rock, AR born musicians initiate their set with the majestic "Devoid of Redemption" off the critically acclaimed, aforementioned "Sorrow and Extinction", they do so to towering expectations on my behalf, remembering the magic of their show at the 2013 edition of Hellfest. The volume is absolutely deafening - the ideal method for ensuring you have the full and undivided attention of your audience, and that distracting chit chat is rendered impossible - yet not to the extent where the band's rumbling low end, for which bassist Joseph D. Rowland & drummer Mark Lierly are responsible, devours the more intricate touches to Pallbearer's melodic doom. This is vital, as it is in truth when the quartet, completed by guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell & guitarist Devin Holt, blends into a single entity in a lengthy instrumental jam such as that found in the evening's third track "Foundations"; that the reasons for the reverence that Pallbearer enjoy become clear. It is here that you witness the hundreds of people in attendance shut their eyes in unison, lean slightly back, and let the music evoke whatever personal imagery in their minds; here Pallbearer have us in their palm.

But as ever, it is not just through the brilliance of their music that Pallbearer bind their spells. They're also a fantastic live act, never shying from the expenditure of energy, or from channeling their passion through movement and expression. Holt & Rowland are a constant thrill, and Campbell's complete immersion into the music, looking like a bandmaster directing his orchestra into the most beautiful crescendo, is absolutely fixating. Yet as magnificent as Pallbearer's concert tonight is, it never reaches the cathartic dimensions of the Hellfest performance of which I spoke earlier, and I suspect this stems from the fact that the band's latest material from "Foundations of Burden" falls slightly short of the grandeur of "Sorrow and Extinction". Compelling as they are, songs like "Worlds Apart" and "Watcher in the Dark" are no match for the already mentioned "Devoid of Redemption", nor the evening's clear highlight "An Offering of Grief". Still, modern doom metal does not come much more exquisite than this, and I'd be a fool to ignore its potency in the live setting based on my subjective findings on the relative strength of their two records.

Yob

It is only a matter of seconds before the song writing genius of Yob is laid bare at the beginning of the classic "Ball of Molten Lead" (off 2004's "The Illusion of Motion). They're an entirely different breed than Pallbearer, preferring a heavier, sludge ridden approach to the doom metal genre, and as that song proceeds, the words of Pallbearer's Rowland just prior echo with truth: Yob "are the most crushing thing". To offer counter argument to such a statement feels futile amidst the fury unfolding before our eyes courtesy of vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg & drummer Travis Foster - especially when the dark and intense mow-down of track three "Nothing to Win" off this year's "Clearing the Path to Ascend" is delivered, its raging drums and Scheidt's belligerent growls creating a terrifying impression, one which has the audience including yours truly quivering with fear.

The persistent stench of hash lingering in the venue is a welcome touch to the nebulous atmosphere to which Yob's tracks give rise; but really, it is the performing prowess of the trio that leaves the most unforgettable mark. Here, in the crowded confines of this most intimate of venues, the band's experience, song writing skill, technical proficiency, and altogether unhinged demeanour consolidate into one of the best concerts witnessed in Denmark this year. The dynamics of the show, which oscillates between lustrously melodic, trudging doom à la "Unmask the Spectre" and "Marrow" and punishing, grimy onslaught like the already mentioned "Nothing to Win", make boredom an imaginary thing despite the colossal length of the band's songs, and once the powerful trio of "Quantum Mystic", "Adrift in the Ocean" and "Kosmos" conclude the proceedings, there is little to deny Yob remain one of the utmost professors of the doom metal genre, and a band every fan of metal should watch live at least once.

Setlist:

  • 01. Ball of Molten Lead
  • 02. In Our Blood
  • 03. Nothing to Win
  • 04. Unmask the Spectre
  • 05. Marrow
  • 06. Quantum Mystic
  • 07. Adrift in the Ocean
  • 08. Kosmos

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