Saturday 13 September 2014

Live Review: Ghold, Pallbearer, Yob. The Roadhouse, Manchester, UK. Friday, 5/9/2014.

I have this theory that if your employer suddenly decided to outlaw Friday’s then the productivity from the work force would increase ten fold.  You have your weekend planned out, maybe the pub after a long day, spending some time with the kids, chores round the house, in laws coming for dinner etc etc.  Indeed, you have so much on your mind, your ability to focus at work waivers.  Friday 5th September, was pretty much the same as any normal day at work, with the added distraction that when I punched out, I’d be heading to Manchester to see Yob.  Yes people, Yob.  What is striking to me about Yob is that the more I talk to people about this band and indeed having been fortunate to have Mike Scheidt talk to us, it is the overwhelming affection people have towards Mike and indeed that feeling resonates to me as fan.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of bands, but by the same token, if some band come across as being a bit ‘douchey’, then invariably that is likely to turn me off their music.

Yob’s latest record ‘Clearing The Path to Ascend’ is barely a few weeks old and yet it feels like an old friend, it engenders feelings of rage, but is serene and emotive, a journey of high and lows, but you know at the end, your life for that hour of investment will be enriched.  I feel like I’m almost getting a little mushy about Yob and their music, I’m not in ‘lurve’ with them, but with their latest record, I feel that they have created something special.  For the record, I had never seen Yob on stage, so for that reason I headed to Manchester with a sense of buoyant anticipation.  ‘Could Yob, actually play their new record play in full tonight’ More on that later. 

Upon circumnavigating around the venue for what felt like 30 mins trying to find somewhere to park, following my hour drive from Sheffield, I wait a further 15 mins in a parking space until 7pm, so I only have to pay for an hour of parking until 8pm. When it is free until the next day.  I proceed to buy a sandwich from Tesco and stand outside ‘The Roadhouse’ until the doors open.  Now anyone who knows me personally knows I’m kind of a shy person, who usually doesn’t approach people, which even irritates me, because shy people generally come last.  The reason I mention this, is because whilst minding my own business, Aaron and Travis from Yob, walk outside, chat amongst themselves, take some photos of the venue and head back in.  The fan in me wants to say ‘Hey guys, love your band, my blog reviewed your record and it’s amazing.’  ‘We recently spoke to Mike too.’ ‘Good luck with the show etc etc.’ But because of my own eccentricities and social awkwardness, I remained motionless, whilst internally I was kicking my own arse, due to my apparent embarrassment at being rejected.

With the venue new to me and the door man remarking it was a ‘sell out’, I went down some steps, into ‘The Roadhouse’, unfortunately it was not a scene for the classic Swayze movie, but a smallish venue with a bar to right and stage to the back as you look left.  I head to take leak and who should walk in; my namesake Aaron from Yob is opposite, I resist the temptation to speak and walk out to the din of dynamic duo Ghold.  Heavy is too weak a word to describe their sound, Bass and drums crush with rhythmic audible incisions. A dual vocal approach brings a tumult of aggression.  The musicality is kind of layered, with furious speed but then weighty sludge breakdowns. Think Black Cobra but bass instead of guitars. There are almost death metal stylings to the vocals at times. Throw some blast beats on drums and you get a nasty blend of filth.  There's an abundance of groove to this two piece too and an addition of guitars at the midway part of a track, again adds a different dimension and layers to their otherwise discordant noise.  At times you've got the doom styling’s of Horse Latitudes, but with the guitar punctuating the colossal wall of sound from bass and drums.  There's an experimental almost Swans esque ugliness to the music. A guitar flurry.  Stop start breakdowns. Certainly Ghold are remarkable in their unorthodoxy but they sound incredibly tight and most telling for a fan of heavy music, astoundingly brutal.

Next up is Pallbearer and having been commented on the previous day, that they were disappointing by a fan of the blog, they kick off huge. ‘Man’ I’m thinking ‘This is intensely heavy’ coupled with the melody of the vocals, this adds layers of harmony.  Making them really peerless in an often over saturated genre. The sound is righteously bass heavy and to be quite honest, fucking thunderous.  The stylings of their music is not just about weight, you’ve arpeggios on tranquil breakdowns, seemingly heavily reverbed and or played through ‘chorus’.

For me though this did not distract from the punitive effect of the riffs. They are colossal. Live there's rawness and a venom about them, the tone of the guitars reminding me of early Electric Wizard (The good kind). In terms of pacing, there is nothing much beyond a southbound group of pachyderms but in equal measure, their sound brings equal amounts of bulk. Riffs are jagged. Chugging at times, the rhythm of drums holding it all together effortlessly. Each down stroke on the guitar and bass leaves you doubled over. It has that counter punch effect. You throw your head forward and the power of their music knocks you back. By track 3 Pallbearer are in their stride. Mournful but progressive, the lead breaks are kinda lost in the mix at times, but you barely notice or even care. Shimmering feedback introduces the track ‘Foreigner’ a cacophony of distortion. The track just oozes class. This is strange beautiful music we love. Vocals soaring like an Eagle over a tyrannous din of distortion. A truly monumental track.

During the time Pallbearer end and Yob take to the stage, I mill around the merch stand until finally with the venue packed to the rafters, albeit a fair distance from the stage, Yob are stood poised. It' seemed like a lifetimes wait to actually see this band and once they kick off with ‘Ball of Molten lead’. The sound is incomprehensible. The intensity is earth shatteringly juddery. Everything is audible every note pitch perfect.  The opening track, setting the tone for the next hour, which is all about one thing, ‘Clearing The Path to Ascend’, as Yob proceed to play in full.  Mike Scheidt raises a glass to the crowd ‘Is their any scotch in this vicinity’.  Dedicating the next four songs to Pallbearer. Yob kick off with my favourite track from their new record ‘In Our Blood’.

Goodness, gracious, me I'm in doom heaven. This track is just otherworldly. Decadent, majestic and in equal measures hypnotic. The notes ring out with clarity and dissident levels of intensity. Close your eyes for a few seconds and the music envelopes you and you’re spellbound by the sheer brute force of this 3 piece. This is fucking fat and pendulous stuff. Smashing your ears with audible bursts of guitar, bass and drums. Mike’s voice is so incredibly poignant and beautiful. Beguiling if you will.  The breakdown is tranquil and serene, then it’s "Time to wake up" the thundering riffs vulgar and furious.  You can't help but clinch your fists and grit your teeth. Aaron's bass every bit as brutal, and percussively Travis is loose but on point smashing his kit into dust.

Into 'Nothing to win' Travis makes his mark and owns this track, reminding me of Jason Roeder of Neurosis, bringing a tribal feel to his playing. The backbeat is incredible and at this point I'm thinking new album in full. Yes sirs ill oblige with my horns in the air and my head nodding in unison. I ask myself can a grown man cry in delight of hearing one of his favourite bands tear it up on stage. Answer not quite but pretty damn close. The closing refrain of the track, Rickenbacher leading the march, Mike raising his glass of whiskey, Travis smashing his drums. Here comes the onslaught. There maybe ‘Nothing to Win’. But these guys get the fucking gold medal. Yob at their most primal

‘Unmask The Spectre’ is somewhat of a change in tone following on from the previous two tracks. Indeed as it is on record.  Mike Scheidt has that unique phrasing to his riffs. Devastating power meshed with high open notes giving the sound an angular feel. Again vocally there are incredible levels of dynamics to his tone, almost operatic, juxtaposed against the snarling growls. Barking like a bloodthirsty beast. Again the music is like a heard of rampant elephants wreaking havoc and crushes all that stands in the way.

All that's left is a small matter of 'Marrow' and what can be said about this. It's a song of beauty. A rich tapestry that weaves its way into your senses. Infecting with such malignancy, and yet, it is wonderful. This is the band at the pinnacle.  This track and more to the point ‘Clearing The Path to Ascend’ takes you on an incredible journey with vast expansive musical peaks, the likes of which you wait a lifetime to witness and then forth you savour the splendid beauty of such a fantastic band in their element, playing their hearts out and feeding off the adulation from their loyal and dedicated fans. It's very rare in heavy music for a band to evoke a feeling of poignancy and yet to me Yob’s music is just that. Its music of charm, warmth, it truly soars and glides, wings outstretched. Floating and gliding above the world’s great landscape. That is the essence of Yob. I truly was in awe that evening, captivated by their brilliance. Heavy music to a fan is part of their DNA, and Yob has firmly imprinted themselves upon me. For that Yob I applaud you. An absolutely spellbinding performance, of which as a Yob fan, I'm unlikely to witness again.

Words by: Aaron Pickford