Yob

support Black Cobra + Necro Deathmort
author EW date 13/10/16 venue Scala, London, UK

If you were to ask who are the 5 essential doom metal bands of the modern era (and why the hell wouldn't you?) Yob would be undoubtedly nestled comfortably in there. As the greatest bands often do they have proven capable over a 7-album discography the ability to craft a new and identifiable sound with just the simplest of instrumentation - guitar, bass, drums. The old ways are always the best ways. With their fanbase growing quickly the anticipation around this show had been fever pitch but first, there were two supports providing quite a diversity in the evening's lineup.

Necro Deathmort

A cursory pre-gig listen to London's own Necro Deathmort (or 'Necrophobic Death Mortgage' as my phone helpfully wishes to autocorrect them to) came as a bit of shock, based on preconceptions developed in mind based on the duo's rather, err, necro, moniker. Peddling a heavily synthesised, extra-terrestrial electronic landscape cultivated on a diet of feedback loops, intensely dissonant guitar and inaudible vocal howls, it was hardly proximate to my personal tastes nor would it seem at all relevant in support to a band like Yob, however those in attendance at this point in the evening warmly applauded messrs Cookson and Rozeik upon the conclusion of their half-hour set. I'm slightly baffled why, considering the 'performance' consisted of the two stood behind a central mixing desk, pushing laptop buttons and twisting deck knobs with an occasional shiver of guitar feedback thrown in for good measure (and serving as virtually the only movement to savour). Hardly typical of conventional live performance etiquette, but judging from their interesting album covers and an admittedly deep, layered sound that was capable of grabbing the attention at times, perhaps this was a form of 'performance art' flying largely over my uncultured mind? Who knows, but from a 'live' perspective this was more out for the count than alive and kicking.

3

Black Cobra

After the challenging opening of NDM, Black Cobra offered a more run of the mill show in both their performance and musical style. Coming across as a rather unrefined sludge metal hybrid, the duo of Jason Landrian (vocals/guitar) and Rafael Martinez (drums) blasted away profusely - far more than is the normally the case for any band of their style. While this offered a refreshing change of dynamic from NDM's fare, the result - to my ears unacquainted with the band's 5 album discography bar a pre-show listening to "Invernal" - was a slightly incohesive performance, perhaps not surprisingly lacking in the fuller sound that the addition of a bass would bring. While the co-orindation between Landrian and Martinez was admirable (the frenetic synchronicity between the pounding of strings and skins was rather noteworthy) there remained few moments of genuinely memorable melodies, riffs or vocal lines to take away. Different styles they may be, but I couldn't help comparing Black Cobra in mind to two other oft-seen duos of recent times - Bölzer and Inquisition - whom both provide a greater variety of tonality and texture from the one guitar on show and leave far more to remember themselves by than the odd moment of High on Fire whiskey-sounded groove or Crowbar-ian sludge. As one normally keen on a band minimising wasted time between songs I feel a quick breather would not have gone amiss at some point but the mere mention of that only serves to confirm that Black Cobra without question gave their all and laid some very welcome groundwork ahead of one of the genre's masters.

6

Yob

It has been two years since Yob last played London, shortly after the release of "Clearing the Path to Ascend", in which time the band's star has risen significantly to the point of playing the 1100-capacity Scala, a not-inconsiderable venue for a band as heavy and resolutely uncommercial as the Oregon trio. The majesty of the live Yob performance, herein explaining just why they have doubled their ticket sales in this time, is the means by which a three-piece band, one without a great deal of on-stage movement, manages to so spectacularly capture the ear and the eye and ensure that a 6-song 90-minute performance never collapses under it's own oppressive weight.

Despite each sticking to their own space, the fervent crashing of heads from vocalist/guitarist/band leader Mike Scheidt and bassist Aaron Rieseberg encompasses the heaving power of the band's often simple riffs at the heart of "Marrow" (possibly my favourite track from the band against a host of contenders) and "Ball of Molten Lead". The moments of subtle tranquillity from the strings of Scheidt's guitar, when he strums clean open chords at a very patient speed, are often the segue into a landslide of riffs rolling from the stage over the powerless audience, a good deal of whom were engaged in timely headnodding to the beat of Travis Foster's drums and Reiseberg's powerful bass lines. I have witnessed such a spectacle countless times down the years but it never tires to witness a sea of synchonised banging and admire the spiritual release it provides for all concerned.

With the benefit of having stood on Reiseberg's side for the whole performance it is quite apparent how the unspectacular yet effective delivery of his lines leads the band onwards but with no mic before him it emphasises Scheidt's mainman status, with his adulation of the crowd's fervour always a pleasure to witness as he rubbishes any notion of doom being for the downtrodden or depressed. Much like a Yob performance as a whole, this is doom straight out the book of stereotypes - leaden-weight, slow and long - yet Yob are something more: spiritual, psychedelic and pleasingly uplifting. Not how you expected a live doom review to conclude, eh?

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