(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Elaborations of Carbon (2002), 6/10
Catharsis (2003), 6.5/10
The Illusion of Motion (2004), 6.5/10
The Unreal Never Lived (2005), 6/10
The Great Cessation (2009), 7/10
Atma (2011) , 5.5/10
Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014), 6/10
Our Raw Heart (2018), 5.5/10

Oregon's heavy-metal outfit Yob (vocalist and guitarist Mike Scheidt, bassist Lowell Iles and drummer Gabe Morley) debuted with the tentative EP Yob (2000) and the album Elaborations Of Carbon (12th Records, 2002), featuring new bassist Isamu Sato, formerly of HC Minds. The ten-minute Universe Throb opens with a dark industrial vortex of noise but then unleashes a methodic hard-rocking rumble with vicious, psychotic vocals that occasionally alternate with a death growl, a sort of punk version of Black Sabbath. The growl is more prominent in the slower ceremony of the eleven-minute All the Children Forgotten, mixed with liquid sounds and a psychedelic guitar. After the Led Zeppelin-esque blues-rock of Clear Seeing, the stately 17-minute Revolution is a lethargic acid blues that fires up after about ten minutes with a Hendrix-ian guitar solo but is dragged down by a spoken-word section just when it was beginning to galvanize. The other 17-minute piece, Asleep in Samsara, is equally somnolent at the beginning, but it exhales black-mass perfurmes.

That stoner-metal evolved into the three varied juggernauts of Catharsis (Abstract, 2003). featuring new drummer Travis Foster. The distorted and toxic falsetto duets with the brutal growl in the slow and bluesy 18-minute Aeons, interrupted by a liquid guitar solo before finally erupting a robust and arrogant riff, but the end is again dominated by a guitar solo, although this time a virulent one. The 23-minute Catharsis is a multi-part suite: it opens with stately crushing riffs, but after seven minutes a pause introduces the melodic sung part, a strong melodic part but slowly becoming a dialogue with a satanic growl, and, eight minutes from the end, an abrasive drones introduces the bombastic declamation of the satanic growl, which comes to dominate, until the last three minutes turn to a frenzied rock'n'roll with the two voices competing for attention. Both compositions highlight a narrative maturity without sacrificing the slow pace.

The Illusion of Motion (Metal Blade, 2004) is a musical monument to magniloquence. What is amazing is that the massive soaring riffs and the macabre gothic melody of Ball of Molten Lead (11:09) feel as warmly humane as a pop song. The slow and martial pace and subhuman growls alternating with a bluesy shriek of Exorcism of the Host (12:58), instead, feels emotional while not humane, emanating for the pain of a non-human psyche; and the hymn-like instrumental break before the final invocation comes through like a scream from Frankenstein's monster. After the hysterical Doom #2 (6:11), a giant vacuum, a psychedelic vortex, opens in The Illusion of Motion (26:10) and soon this doom-y piece reveals itself as a piece of theater, a lengthy soliloquy by an "acid" voice accompanied by catatonic instruments. Unfortunately, this long composition feels 20 minutes too long, definitely not worthy of being on the same album with the first two.

The Unreal Never Lived (Metal Blade, 2005) Quantum Mystic (10:58) opens like a cross of Pink Floyd's Interstellar Overdrive with Led Zeppelin's How Many More Times (the best four minutes of the album) but then becomes an odd (and a bit tedious) power ballad. Grasping Air (9:02) fails to ignite at any point of its lumbering repetition. Kosmos (10:25) fares a lot better, but it fundamentally reclycls old Yob cliches. And the album ends again with an overlong piece, The Mental Tyrant (21:23), which opens majestically like a Pink Floyd elegy but doesn't know where to go with it and in fact it restarts anew after six minutes. After 16 minutes it changes again, and ends with buzzing voices that sound like Tibetan monks, but with the only result of sounding a confused mess.

Yob broke up in 2006 and Scheidt formed Middian that continued the mission of Yob with Age Eternal (Metal Blade, 2007).

Scheidt and Foster reformed Yob with new bassist Aaron Reiseberg and released The Great Cessation (Profound Lore, 2009), characterized by a more abstract, less cohesive sound. Scheidt's theatrical show towers over Burning the Altar (12:37) with his soaring invocations acquiring satanic overtones until the mysterious, exotic ending. The structure of The Lie That Is Sin (11:19) is complex like a post-rock song: at one point it's a grandiose melody surrounded by abysmal noise, but later it's a quiet litany. Silence of Heaven (9:48) emanates spiritual suspense and quasi-psychedelic trance but is also devastated by a growl on fire, and it achieves maximum dramatic effect. That growl vomits even more flames in Breathing from the Shallows (7:35), a song propelled by voodoo-like tom-toms and wildly distorted guitar until the final descent into hellish chaos. The Great Cessation (20:34) opens with an atmospheric, quasi new-age guitar sonata and then Scheidt croons a melody that, by their standards, is a pop ballad. Halfway his voice turns into a hoarse pub chant (not a growl) and, after a long and exhausting journey, the piece reaches a ghostly, dissonant ending. This time Yob does not exceed its welcome with this long closing song.

Atma (Profound Lore, 2011), with Aaron Rieseberg on bass, returned to a more cohesive stoner-metal style, whether in the relentless attack of Prepare the Ground (9:05) or in the doom elegy Upon the Sight of the Other Shore (7:33). On the other hand, the slower, stately, funereal Atma (8:56) flows into a disorienting coda, and standout Adrift in the Ocean (13:33) transitions from a quasi-sitar opening to a galopping fever before Scheidt intones a prayer-like chant and on to sinister tom-toms and a final burst of grating guitar drones. Less convincing is Before We Dreamed of Two (15:59), whose panzer rhythm slows down dramatically in the second half.

Travis Foster's drums and Aaron Rieseberg's bass tower over Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot Recordings, 2014), Yob's heaviest album yet. The results are mixed. Sometimes Yob indulge in endless, dull and spineless litanies like in most of In Our Blood (16:56). On the other hand, the tumultous standout Nothing to Win (11:21) is full of surprises: at first it couples torrential bass riffs and shouted refrain, but after a few minutes Scheidt recites his lines over a wall of distortion and a vortex-like drumming, and this leads to a feverish instrumental jam, which in turn flows into a sort of psychedelic, reverbed chant drenched in droning sounds, which then leads to a stereotypical Black Sabbath-ian riff. The drum-less beginning of Unmask the Spectre (15:25) features dripping guitar tones and cello-like bass lines. The growling vocals that explode it are misleading because, after a lengthy repetition, the song becomes a dancing instrumental lullabye. Then it stops and restarts as a more conventional power-ballad, as close to Bon Jovi as they have ever been. And Marrow (18:48) is entirely devoted to coining a poppy version of doom and stoner metal. All in all, a lot of bombast but not much substance.

In January 2017 Mike Scheidt was hospitalized for a severe illness that almost killed him. During the convalescence he composed Our Raw Heart (Relapse, 2018), an album that not shy to incorporate spiritual and existential overtones. Our Raw Heart (14:22), Ablaze (10:13) and especially Beauty in Falling Leaves (16:27) flirt even more openly with pop melody, and maybe simply signal that Scheidt is turning into an old-fashioned singer-songwriter. The Screen (9:49) better amalgamates melody and Yob's trademark granitic sound, but In Reverie (9:43) is just filler. The punishing riffs and suffering growls of Original Face (7:03) come as a breath of fresh air (despite being the exact opposite).

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