As a fan of doom metal, I am constantly asked if I am a fan of YOB, so there is always a sense of embarrassment in the air when I say I’ve never heard anything by YOB. With their latest album Clearing The Path To Ascend being voted the best metal album of the year by Rolling Stone as well as the 50th best album of the year, I thought it was time to bite the bullet and check it out.
The album was written in the wake of front man Mike Scheidt‘s decision to quit anti-depressants; he has thrown a lot into this record and he’s clearly yearning for a better future throughout the album, the raw emotion this brings out is one of the album’s strongest features. Because of this, it is perhaps understandable that the first words of the album (on track ‘In Our Blood’) are in fact “time to wake up”. What follows from this is an hour of epic doom metal with touches of progressive and stoner thrown into the mix, giving the music some extra form of clarity. This is a remarkable album and one I very much enjoyed listening to, despite the pain and agony flowing through it.
The lyrical content on the album is simply outstanding. “From womb to the womb, rain falls to the sea, from the leap to the ground, falls the reed into sound, from birth unto the tomb, love breathes to release” – the images and lyrics given from this album are some of the best of the year. The images painted were incredibly personal; when Scheidt is growling on ‘Nothing to Win,’ it’s easy to imagine him releasing pent up anger. The lyrics “so I take, this weary heart and bleed it out. Unshackle my illusions and bleed them out” came to mind when writing this review. YOB are masters of their craft, the notes themselves bring images of calm, despair and stormy seas, all without a single lyric. When the vocals come in, another layer has been added to the songs like in the more mellow ‘The Spectre’, where the vocals give the song an other-wordly feel, rather fitting with the song being called ‘The Spectre’ and all. End track ‘Marrow’ ends the album in fine style, a more peaceful end to the heavier side of the album.
A mesmerizing, beautiful and a landmark album in the doom genre. I can’t believe I’ve missed out on YOB till now. I hope YOB join the likes of Electric Wizard and Sleep in the big leagues as they deserve it. One of the best releases of 2014.
1. In Our Blood
2. Nothing to Win
3. Unmask the Spectre
Mike Scheidt – Guitar, Vocals
Aaron Rieseberg – Bass
Travis Foster – Drums