I have been listening to Yob off and on for 7 years or so, when i came across the band mentioned on a now defunct Buddhist blog. Seeing a "doom metal" band mentioned on The Worst Horse was odd enough to inspire me to seek the band out.
So i have listened to a few of their records. And, well, Our Raw Heart is a somewhat different album for Yob. Well, all Yob albums are very different -- the band definitely follows its own path, and that is one of the things i like about them. But this album was mostly composed by main Yob Mike Scheidt as he was bed-ridden recovering from a bout of diverticulitis. That is an intestinal disease, and apparently it is pretty painful. He needed a few surgeries to fix in, but he has recovered now (we hope).
So: metal guy recovering in bed from a serious illness, one with a new penchant for "eastern religion" writes a new record, and not just a metal record. Yob are pulling in shoegaze and slowcore and dream pop and indie rock and math rock and prog rock and kind of mixing it all up. There is a lot of diversity on this album, in 7 songs that fill about 70 minutes of listening. And that is a good thing.
Ablaze kicks off the album with a crunchy guitar riff that would not be out of place on a Jesu record. It grinds along, the voice coming in after about 2 minutes (one fifth the song length), the vocals operatic, dramatic. This is intense and sludgy.
On The Screen, the rhythm moves ponderously and the guitar is fed through so much distortion that it sounds like a piece of plastic or metal scraping on something, a screen i suppose! Scheidt howls and gasps his vocals here, the howl one of intense anger and rage and hatred and pain. I am not the biggest fan of this sort of vocal work, but i think it works here when paired with a song that is more Rodan than Sabbath.
In Reverie is another song that grinds along, the rhythm and guitar buried under distortion and moving along slowly. This one is the song most typical of the Doom Metal genre, i think.
Lungs Reach is slow, ponderous, odd, with a really slow start, the song kind of thumping along, lurching oddly with gobs of echo. It seems to be more ambient than metal, the guitar subdued and echoing in strange layers as the bass thunks a mighty reverbing note. After 4 minutes of this meandering, Scheidt comes in with a deep growl, bellowing the name of the song as the guitar wails like Tommy Iommi. Intense.
So, when i saw Yob in concert i bought this album on vinyl. Those first 4 songs make up the first of 2 sides.
The first side of the second disc, the C side, consists of one song, the 16:27 long Beauty in Falling Leaves. The title evokes a samurai reciting haiku, or at least it does so to me. This song starts very slowly with picked guitar and Scheidt's voice fragile, almost breaking apart. After about four minutes he stomps on an overdrive pedal and his guitar grinds like J Mascis as bassist Aaron Riesebery and drummer Travis Foster pound at it. The song becomes loud at this point, and dense. This is more SIANspheric than Iron Maiden. After 8 minutes of dense grinding, the song swells to a climax, Scheidt's guitar sparkling and bright, bringing to mind Red House Painters. Wow. It's dramatic and long and goes through so many different layers, but this is also very beautiful. Yob are really stretching things here.
So, of course, Scheidt kicks off Original Face (a direct Zen reference) with a growled scream, deep in the back of the throat: the scream of raw anger. Yob are sped up here, and so loud as to almost overwhelm my speakers. Scheidt growls through this one, his voice yelled raw. What is fascinating to me is that he screams, at one point, "Clear sight, Rigpa’s view / I must see it through / Must see it through". “Rigpa” means awareness in Tibetan Buddhism. He is talking about meditation. In fact, at the end of the song he yells "There is nothing else / This is all there is" over and over. This is an angry seven-minute metal song, complete with solo, about meditation. This overlap of things i like is utterly fascinating to me... Sure, the solos are kind of cheesy and not his best work, but this song is one that i keep coming back to. Your mileage may vary, of course.
And finally the record ends with Our Raw Heart, a song that is more like Beauty in Falling Leaves than it is like Original Face. Beauty in Falling Leaves and this one both feature guitar that is more Hum than Sabbath, the rhythms more crawling than pounding. Scheidt's voice is less raw than on Beauty in Falling Leaves, but it is more distant and layered under the guitar. This comes across as a great post-rock tune, Scheidt yelling his soul out as he plays a bluesy riff through tons of distortion. A great end to the record.
So, yeah. Wow. Yob have released another stunning record. Go give this a listen when you have some time to spend with it. This is more a thinking metal record than a thrashing metal record, but i think there is a lot of worthwhile stuff going on here.