Words About Music
YOB “Clearing the Path to Ascend”
The shortest song on this album is eleven minutes and twenty two seconds. Just a fair warning. Anyway, YOB is an Oregon-based doom metal/sludge metal/post-metal band that has been broadening the genre since their 2008 reformation (after originally breaking up in 2006). I first became familiar with YOB in 2011 with the release of their album “Atma,” one of my very first experiences with the doom metal genre. Before I discovered Sleep, Electric Wizard, and Neurosis, YOB was in my life. I forgot about YOB for a little while, only to rediscover them upon hearing of this new album, “Clearing the Path to Ascend.” Fond memories immediately found themselves in my head as I pressed play, and fans of doom metal should not be disappointed by what YOB has to offer here.
While Pallbearer’s music is on the more melodic end of the spectrum, YOB’s music is noisy, gargantuan, evil, and demented. The trio sounds like a mix between Mastodon and Electric Wizard, complete with weird vocal samples and instantly recognizable vocals. Rather than purely rely on riffs, YOB opts to incorporate quite a bit of noise and atmosphere into their music. You’ll here lots of feedback and drone on this record in between the large grooves and demonic howls. YOB seeks to terrify in the same way that Swans do. There’s a lot of buildups and repetition throughout this record’s 63-minute runtime. Diehard doom metal fans probably won’t see a whole lot in YOB that is very different from other groups in the genre, but that doesn’t mean that what YOB is doing isn’t interesting or effective.
“Clearing the Path to Ascend” is an incredibly hateful record. There’s moments of transcendental beauty on here, sure, but mostly in the “calm-before-the-storm” sense. It almost reminds me of ISIS (the band, not the terrorist organization, just in case you needed me to clear that up). This record consistently builds itself up only to tear itself down again. The band goes very far out of its way to make sure the transitions are smooth and that each movement gets its due time. Any band can noodle around for 20 minutes on end, but YOB prefers to make good use of that time.
This record is dense and intense, choosing to fill nearly every bit of space with sound. There’s very little breathing room here as it’s almost designed to make you pay attention to it. “Clearing the Path to Ascend” is an album that will command your attention, but it also deserves it. It’s an immaculately produced metal record that is very rarely a victim of its own length and inaccessibility. But, if you let it, this album will envelop you and make those 63 minutes feel like 33 minutes. You may not feel quite happy by the end of it (unless you’re some sort of heavy metal masochist) but it’s certainly a listening experience like almost no other. It’s not quite as bulletproof as Pallbearer’s “Foundations of Burden,” but it definitely takes doom metal back to the noisy ’90s. YOB’s first album for Neurot Recordings is almost as twisted as anything Neurosis ever put out, but with the added bonus of the occasional respite from the chaos.
SCORE – 8.5
FAVORITE TRACKS – In Our Blood, Unmask the Spectre, Marrow
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