Clearing the Path to Ascend

Written by: EW on 02/09/2014 23:07:59

Now in the cycle of their seventh album, United States’ doomsters Yob find themselves fêted as a champion of the genre to the most unexpected proportions. After all, this is a band whose release schedule has slowed as recognition has soared and possessors of a discography consisting primarily of songs comfortably over the ten-minute mark. How has this happened? I can speak from experience of becoming an instant convert over the course of their two performances at this year’s Roadburn where in my review I commented on the entrancing nature of their music, awestruck at the total servitude granted their slow motion crawl that generated an experience unlike any other band I can remember having seen before. This carried over into a much greater volume of home listening until this crescendo of new material, "Clearing the Path to Ascend”.

Consisting of just four tracks spanning 62 minutes the scale is fully set on ‘vast’ for the entirety of this release. You could argue the song-writing element of Yob’s vastness is primarily achieved, like many other key doom bands, from the slow and considered pace of their song construction but that would be to ignore the varied and magnificent sounds coming from the guitar of band leader Mike Scheidt. The man is clearly a stickler for tone and, quite possibly, a nightmare for a record producer, but as befits someone who conducts a sound check with levels of military precision his work alone throughout this record at times outshines the actual songs beneath the veneer and is fully deserving of the critical reputation Yob have earned. Whether it is the washed out tone with a hint of bass which leads for most of the lugubrious "Morrow" or the hazier, caustic feel leading the Neurosis-esque sludge of "Nothing to Win”, you, the listener will forever have a colourful palette to ingest when listening to the breadth of "Clearing the Path to Ascend”.

It is the album closing "Morrow" which displays Scheidt’s varieties best as the slow, Ahab-like opening is gradually subsumed until a tidal wave of power through which the clean chords continue uninhibited under the heavier guitar track and Scheidt’s wavering vocals. Running like a redline through the 19-minute track acts like a spine through which all other features attach themselves to, the simple ingenuity of it’s central position helps the song comfortably fill that vast expanse of time, notably so as it peaks with a gorgeous solo which recalls classic Pink Floyd to lead the song into a final, celebratory foray. Opener "In Our Blood" I can distinctly remember from Roadburn, notably due to the total silence in the auditorium during the ‘solo’ spoken word phase, where the nakedness of the song at this point contrasts with the heaving, pounding bass performance of Aaron Reiseberg and Travis Foster’s cymbal rides when it bursts to life like a violent crack of thunder ninety seconds into its 17 minute span.

"Nothing to Win" keeps a much faster beat for most of it’s 11 mins and sees Scheidt varying vocal styles from an audible throaty bellow to a call-and-return later in the piece atop Foster’s fluctuating drum patterns. The inclusion of a well-constructed faster track (especially of a total of just four) is a great addition although I feel it could have benefitted from a trimming of repetitive edges. This leaves just "Unmask the Spectre”, the pre-released track which got me so excited for the LP and arguably the best of the lot. Blessed with dark, spacious intro chords and quiet vocals segueing into glacial bass-led drones the song travels through a collection of fantastic transitions where each beat forms a step further into the abyss until the song reaches a zenith around 7 mins as the onset of a ‘chorus’ emerges like the turning of a corner onto a vast, sunlit horizon. This senseless wonder is adequate explanation of Yob’s reverence.

Not for nothing is the upcoming London show of their tour with Pallbearer sold out in advance. These are two great bands bringing considerable new elements to doom metal, and while I have heard and reviewed more consistently enjoyable records in the genre than "Clearing the Path to Ascend" down the years, I’ve not come across many with so much definition, for Yob possess a unique potential to shake mountains while gently caressing your soul.

Download: Unmask the Sceptre, In our Blood
For The Fans Of: Ahab, Abandon, Pallbearer
Listen: Facebook

Release date 29.08.2014
Neurot Recordings

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