Monday 25 August 2014

Yob - Clearing the Path to Ascend (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 2/9/2014
Label: Neurot Recordings / Relapse Records

‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’ CD/DD/LP track listing:

1). In Our Blood 16:57
2). Nothing to Win 11:22
3). Unmask the Spectre 15:26
4). Marrow 18:49

The Band:

Mike Scheidt | Vocals, Guitars
Aaron Riseberg | Bass
Travis Foster | Drums


There can be a truth found in noise.  As a crushing volume cocoons you, you can find within its sonic confines a strange, delightful nirvana.  Tuck your knees up into your chest, wrap your arms around them, become a baby again, safe in the womb of music, ready to be born out into the world of harsh sounds and confusing chatter. 

This is where I found myself after listening to Yob’s brand new album.  With headphones on and eyes closed, I felt nothing but a weird comfort in the Oregon doom trio’s expansive offering.  ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’ is a mind-altering blast of the noisy and the nuanced, with such scope and scale shown in just four tracks.  Well, I say ‘just’… these four beasts are well over ten minutes long apiece, and each one is massive.  Think Neurosis mixed with Conan sprinkled with some Sunn O))) feedback goodness.  It’s not for those with a fast-paced outlook: it is murky, tidal stuff, an elemental force that slowly, inescapably sweeps you up and drags you away. 

Four songs of doom, distortion and destiny await you in ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’, dear listener.  Why destiny, I hear your brains think?  Because there has never been quite a release such as this.  This is the land that was tantalisingly on the horizon when 2011’s ‘Atma’ was your aural stomping ground; and now, at long last, here is this fresh terrain, ready for you.  It is your destiny to experience this new and unexplored land of noise: tread forth and know doom as never before. 

Of these four tracks: ‘In Our Blood’, ‘Nothing to Win’, ‘Unmask the Spectre’ and ‘Marrow’, each has a distinct voice and presence to it.  Album opener ‘In Our Blood’ sweeps majestically across the plains like a black-winged bird of prey, each musical movement measured, precise, and deadly when required.  I especially loved the soundbites incorporated into the music: with eyes closed and headphones on, it really felt like being mesmerised by an expert hypnotist.  Then Mike Scheidt and co. turn up the distortion and the aggression and really make a psychological pipebomb explode: sneaky work, guys!  Pounding on after this comes ‘Nothing to Win’.  Although the shortest track at a paltry 11 minutes(!) I found the chugging guitars and fairly pulverizing drums to be just as powerful and as potent as its album’s brothers.  In fact, this is the song I kept coming back to the most: its rolling currents of music buoying and rocking me through its epic running time. 

Then we have ‘Unmask the Spectre’.  As haunting as its title suggests, this song is dark: skulking just at the edges of your vision, you try to catch a glimpse of it, and it skitters away.  After minutes of nerve-shredding anticipation, the Spectre strikes with a banshee wail of guitars and Mike Scheidt’s inhuman howl.  After the initial attack, ‘Unmask the Spectre’ becomes a menacing fifteen minutes of tension-building stillness and doom-dealing heaviness.  If ever there was a violent elegy for the death of all happiness in the world, this would be it. 

Finally, after 45 minutes of destruction and distortion, we get to the core of it all.  Aptly titled ‘Marrow’, this is the opus of ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’: the heart of darkness at the end of our journey.  And what an experience awaits you here: walls of sound stretching up into the storm-laden sky, Travis Foster’s drums quaking the ground beneath you, Aaron Rieseberg’s bass as steady a thrum as your own pulse, and just as loud in your ears.  This is the end, and ‘Marrow’ is the reward for your curiosity.  Savour all 18 minutes plus of it: you’ve earned them. 

It’s been two years since previous album ‘Atma’ pummeled the metal landscape, and with ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’, Yob have moulded that bruised landscape into new and vibrant shapes.  Heavy, discordant, startling and genuinely touching, this album is a true-blue metal odyssey that rewards every listener who dares to take the journey with them.  Headphones on.  Eyes closed.  Experience Yob. 

Words by: Chris Markwell

You can pick up a CD here and vinyl here