Acclaimed Oregon Doom trio Yob have returned from the very brink with their stunning eighth album Our Raw Heart (Relapse). Following a well-publicized near death experience owing to a particularly awful battle with diverticulitis Yob mastermind Mike Scheidt has channeled the experience into a very personal emotive record, which resonates with the listener both musically and emotionally. Continue reading
While the fall progresses forward and nature around us slowly dies leading up to another New England winter, nothing seems as appropriate as that of a doom metal show. The Brighton Music Hall was once again the site of another memorable show, this time consisting of Sea of Bones, Lord Almighty, Black Cobra, and YOB. The show was so heavy that I was able to go next door for a slice of pizza and know when a band was sound checking and then playing just from how hard the walls were vibrating. The only downside to such a low-end rich show is the drive home when all I wanted to do was go to sleep from the therapeutic doom riffs felt all night.
Sea of Bones kicked off the night to which I can only say was jaw dropping. Previously, I had never heard anything by the group, but was pleasantly surprised with how heavy they got. A nice mix of doom, drone, sludge, and dashes of Neurosis as well as Author & Punisher all came to mind while experiencing Sea of Bones for the first time. I will certainly be catching Sea of Bones the next time I can.
Local heroes, Lord Almighty, came on next and showcased as much of their full-length début album, Paths, as they could in their relatively short set. The progressive black metal outfit certainly made new fans this evening from all the doom fans in-house for YOB and Sea of Bones as well as the fans who like it a bit faster such as Black Cobra. Boston, once again, can be proud knowing that the city keeps pumping out some seriously fun and interesting heavy metal bands.
Similar to Sea of Bones, I had never given Black Cobra the time of day, but had heard their name in passing. Regardless of my ignorance to this band, I quickly became a fan of their up tempo doom riffs and pounding drumming. Also, the sound that is generated out of just these two musicians was truly amazing. From down the street you would anticipate that the band playing had five or six guys with multiple guitarists, let alone one guitarist/vocalist and a drummer. Also adding into the instant fan spell that was placed on me, I found Black Cobra to be quite similar to a long time favorite of mine in High on Fire.
Just when I thought the night could not get any better, out came the guys from YOB to absolutely crush my soul. This having been my third time seeing the Oregon doom threesome this year, I had a good feel of what to expect on the set list. Staple opener, ‘Ball of Molten Lead’ got all heads banging together. ‘In Our Blood’ and ‘Marrow’ were also in the rotation as per the usual off of their latest (and maybe greatest), Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot). Some may call it a little much, but I could honestly see YOB live again between now and February 2016 even if that makes it four times in a calendar year. There is just something else that YOB delivers that no other doom bands seem to have. Regardless, another amazing night for heavy music in the Brighton/Allston area which could not make me any happier!
WORDS BY TIM LEDIN
Not much in this life beats seeing some great bands play live, except for when you see great bands play live and it is the last stop on the tour. On March 24th in front of an eager Cambridge crowd at The Sinclair, Ecstatic Vision, YOB, and Enslaved brought forth a memorable show to close out the first quarter of the year. For me, I had never heard/listened to Ecstatic Vision, only recently started listening to YOB after they were announced for Maryland Deathfest 2015, and have become a big Enslaved fan over the years. To top it all off, this was the final stop on the tour and was curious to see what sort of shenanigans or special moments could occur. To be honest, I still can’t believe some of the things I saw and how ‘Isa’ by Enslaved is now ruined for me forever (in a good way of course).Ecstatic Vision, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
To start off the night on what turned out to be a great note, Ecstatic Vision rocked out and certainly made a vast amount of new fans in Cambridge, MA. The entire set I tried to place what I was listening to, and the best description I could come up with was Deep Purple with Rob Zombie during the White Zombie era on vocals. Naturally, this combination got me excited from the start of the set and straight through until the house lights came on. In a strange moment during one of the epic tracks in the set, Enslaved’s own Grutle Kjellson (lead vocals/bass) and Herbrand Larsen (keyboards, synthesizer, clean vocals) appears on stage to provide some manly hugs to the guys in Ecstatic Vision. Strangest of all was Grutle walking around in a t-shirt and his underwear. Due up next, doom titans, YOB.
Yob, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
Having only got around to really listening to the latest album from YOB and a select few other tracks, I had high hopes for their live performance. I am happy to say that my high hopes were met, and then some. Given the length of the available set time and the average length of a YOB song, I was not anticipating anymore than a few songs and more than likely one or two off the latest album. Turned out they played a total of four tracks, three of which came off of the new album. The set kicked off with ‘In Our Blood’ which shook the very foundation of The Sinclair and the souls of its guests. In a surprise turn of events, Grutle made his way out to center stage again where a spare microphone was waiting for him as he provided guest vocals for ‘Nothing To Win.’ This would not be the end of Enslaved’s appearances as Grutle, Herbrand, and the rest of the crew would come out and provide more manly hugs to the guys from YOB. It appeared YOB may have been done after just three songs, but Mike Scheidt announced they had time for one last song, ‘Burning the Altar.’ The threesome from Oregon had absolutely blown me away with their live stage presence and I am more than excited to catch them again at MDF this year!YOB and Enslaved, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
At long last, it was time for Enslaved to return to the stage, but actually play some music rather than provide comic relief. The set list from the long time extreme metal favorites was obviously in support of their latest release, In Times (Nuclear Blast), so a couple or so songs could be expected and then a few other songs sprinkled in. Off of the new album, the Cambridge audience got to hear ‘Thurisaz Dreaming’, ‘Building With Fire’, and the album title track, ‘In Times.’ On top of that, the set included a track from 8 other albums such as: Axioma Ethica Odini, Below the Lights, Frost, RIITIIR, and Ruun! Normally when I order a flight, I expect a couple of sample size beers for tasting. However, Enslaved truly put on a flight of their catalog for fans both new and old. Personally, I really enjoyed hearing some of the older tracks such as ‘The Watcher’ and ‘Fenris’. In case there was any question, yes, Grutle’s in between song banter and jokes were present and as funny as ever. Always nice to know that some bands out there today can still play some great heavy metal, but can avoid taking themselves so seriously and just have a good time. As most of the Enslaved fans could guess, the set ended with fan favorite ‘Isa’. However, the joke was on Enslaved at this point as members from both YOB and Ecstatic Vision rushed the stage playing pretending to play instruments unplugged. Also, and most notably, some members of the band and road crew were holding pieces of cardboard that looked to spell ‘Iza’ or someone had difficulty drawing the letter S. Then another Z came out, and then a P. Just when I realized that they had spelled out “pizza” (which is all I can hear now during said song now) some ladies from the merch tables came out on stage and started handing out pieces of pizza out to the crowd! This was certainly a first for me and I am not sure I will ever see anything like that again.Enslaved, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography Enslaved, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
Enslaved with YOB and Ecstatic Vision, Photo by Hillarie Jason Photography
It just goes to show you that not much can beat an Enslaved show, regardless of who comes with them. However, on this specific tour, I think the selection of support bands were damn near flawless. Also, I wanted to quickly mention my ever growing love for The Sinclair venue. I have been to this venue now for a handful of shows and the staff is always friendly, lighting/sound is perfect, and just the overall atmosphere just seems to really click. As for Enslaved, YOB, and Ecstatic Vision, I think the rest of the heavy metal world has a lot to cover at this point to bring such a diverse but entertaining group of bands together for a tour.
WORDS BY TIM LEDIN
Doom metal lords YOB have hit the road on a tour of the US, continuing to tour behind last year’s astounding Clearing The Path To Ascend (Neurot) release. Ghost Cult Chief Editor Keith Chachkes caught up with front man Mike Scheidt recently to preview the tour with Enslaved, Ecstatic Vision and Witch Mountain. Mike also chatted about touring in general opening for Tool in arenas versus small clubs.
Mike started our chat with some kind words about Enslaved and his being a fan of theirs:
“I’ve listened to Enslaved… I think the first album was Eld (Osmose), the first full-length album. I did have an Emperor/Enslaved album on CD as well. Over the years they have changed on pretty much every record. I am a big fan. My favorite is Monumension, and Below the Lights and Eld still hold a real candle for me. Mardraum (Beyond The Within) too. We are definitely fans of them. We got to see them one time at Roadburn, which was mind-bogglingly good. So just being able to go out with them is an honor for sure.”
Witch Mountain, playing a western US run of dates with YOB, holds a special place for Schiedt from a personal and professional standpoint.
“We’ve probably played with Witch Mountain 40 or 50 times. Our very first Portland show YOB ever played was with Witch Mountain played. So we have very old roots there. And their drummer Nathan Carson owns Nanotear Booking, and he has been booking us for the better part of 10 years too.”
Speaking about the coast-to coast spanning tour of North America, he was reflecting on the cities and people: “We have a lot of friends all over the place. I think in most places we are playing we have people we are stoked about seeing, as well as playing for all the people coming to see us, and making new friends, of course. Los Angeles, we have a lot of friends down there. Same with Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia. Vancouver. Chicago, we have a lot of friends in Chicago. We haven’t played Boston in a while so it will be great to play there again. We have a lot of good friends in Little Rock Arkansas, and Austin too. We haven’t been to Toronto or Montreal since 2011, so it’s gonna be great to go there. I don’t think there is one city we aren’t really excited about on this tour.”
Speaking about the challenges of touring, Mike offered up this assessment of YOB’s time opening for Tool.
“We toured with Tool for two weeks, and that was kind of like jumping out of an aeroplane without a parachute every night. Still, we just approached it… our view of it was “these guys picked us”. Some of those guys are our friends too, and they picked us for a reason. So we totally just threw every calorie of energy into our set. Arms raised, screaming. Instead of a 500 person club, it was a 20,000 person arena. We didn’t change anything about what we do. It just takes a little bit longer to connect with the room, that’s it. We were ready to be booed every night. We didn’t get booed, but I think some people were clapping that we were getting off stage! (laughs) It was just a crazy scenario to accept that we would even be in a place like that. But who knows?”
“We’re getting ready to go out with Enslaved, and some of their crowd is, I’m sure, not our crowd. The work of the band is two-fold. Of course we want to be received well. It’s also personal work. There’s stuff that we do, and stuff that we do for ourselves. It’s a discipline. We climb onto the stage and climb into ourselves. We climb into us and we let the music take us where it takes us. We want to share that with anyone who wants to come on that ride. Whatever happens is fine. We have no control over that. All we can be is ourselves.”
WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES
…And so we continue with our countdown of the Official Ghost Cult Top 50 Metal releases of 2014 by bringing you Albums 15 to 11. As we get closer the top, the sheer unadulterated quality of the albums covered is astounding, and every one of our Top 20 should proudly sit in your collection already. And if it doesn’t, you should get investigating immediately…
15. GODFLESH – A World Lit Only By Fire (Avalanche)
Joining the growing list of bands who have returned from a leave of recording absence in style, Justin Broadrick resumes where he left off thirteen years ago, delivering dissonant, nihilistic, industrial cold post-metal. Innovators and leaders to a previous generation of bands, Godflesh returns with metallic precision and destructive poundings.
“The crushing landscapes of Streetcleaner (Earache) are recalled in the merciless dehumanised beats yet the harshness of the eight string guitar has taken this unforgiving creation an even blacker more disturbing feel. The momentum never lags throughout this fearsome monolith feeling urgent and vital throughout. It may be their first full length in thirteen years but every fibre of the bands DNA has mutated into an even more virulent strain of post-Sabbath paranoia whose icy claws cannot be escaped.”
Read ROSS BAKER’s 8/10 review here
14. INDIAN – From All Purity (Relapse)
Extreme doom has never been in a healthier or more prolific state, and is a scene with a surfeit of reeking repugnancy spread over a growing horde of performers. Oozing themselves to the very peak of the sludge mountain is Chicago’s Indian, with a release that tests the very limits of just how hideous a piece of music can be and still be appreciated. Essential art, manifested as abhorrent compositions.
“Over the course of 39 harrowing minutes, Indian attempt to batter the listener into submission with a ceaseless barrage of spiky sludge riffs that aren’t afraid to repeat themselves to make their point well and truly felt, percussion that hits as hard as a drunken preacher taking his belt to a cowering sinner, horrible harsh droning noises that sound like a possessed radio broadcasting live from Chernobyl, and all topped off with Will Lindsay’s throat-shredding howls and screeches.”
Read JAMES CONWAY’s 8/10 review here
13. OPETH – Pale Communion (Roadrunner)
On Heritage, Mikael Åkerfeldt led his Swedes away from a technical Death Metal past towards the Prog Rock light. With Pale Communion, transition completed, he perfects the marriage of Opeth and their new slant, constructing a beautiful, reflective, warm and overwhelmingly natural album that speaks in an altered, more progressively refined tongue to the previous voices of Opeth.
“Fast forward three years and Pale Communion is, in many ways a continuation of such a direction, but one that see’s Mikael’s uncompromising view drawing more clearly into focus. Harking back again to the late 60s and early 70s this eleventh studio opus features fluid dexterous drum patterns, moody distorted organ work and another all clean and highly proficient performance in the vocal department. Where Heritage felt somewhat disjointed on occasion Pale Communion is richly woven into a tapestry of ornate and complex elements rather than flitting from one genre to the next.”
Read ROSS BAKER’s 7/10 review here
12. YOB – Clearing The Path To Ascend (Neurot)
Like one of their own dark, weighty epics, Yob’s career is slowly unfurling, opening out as expansive riffs draw out of the dark, and slab-heavy tones meld Post and Doom Metal. Yob’s previous two albums, in particular, have been preparation for this career defining opus, where the permutations of delicate beauty and unsubtle heavyweight guitars are woven skilfully.
“Clearing the Path to Ascend begins by showing a return to the inventive aspects of …Cessation with a gently repetitive chords, and mellifluous tones riding a colossal riffs that move with the speed of a tortoise. All four tracks far exceed the ten-minute mark yet none here exceed their welcome. Combining the best aspects of the band’s aforementioned last albums this is a perfect blend of weight, hostility, melody and ecstasy, and will need many plays to yield its full array of splendour.”
Read PAUL QUINN’s 9/10 review here
11. TOMBS – Savage Gold (Relapse)
While predecessor Path of Totality (fortunately not a dub-step album, like Korn’s of the same name)) was a great album in its own right, it is in 2014 that songwriter Mike Hill, backed by a crystalline production by Erik Rutan, has finalised the blueprint of how to merge granite flecked post-Metal with rusted Black Metal, bathing us all in cold, exacting, current, intelligent and hostile extreme music, where the caustic overwhelms.
“Savage Gold, the third album from Brooklyn quartet Tombs, is certainly no easy listen. Since their debut release Winter Hours in 2009, the band have attempted to show just how black and post-metal should go together and once again stand head and shoulders above the competition, for Savage Gold is a triumph in visceral aggression and brooding atmospherics.”
Read JAMES CONWAY’s 9/10 review here
Compiled and additional words by Steve Tovey
YOB and Pallbearer are both out on the road in support of stellar new albums. YOB’s Clearing The Path To Ascend (Neurot) received a 9/10 from Ghost Cult earlier this month. Pallbearer’s Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore) was a rare 10/10 from us and was our August Album of the month. Both bands recent teamed up for a co-headlining run of dates in the UK and Luke Denham of Luke Denham Photography caught both bands in front of his lens. A full review is coming soon. In the mean time, enjoy these shots!
Those who feel that the grand, experimental The Great Cessation was bloated and overlong, or that the fantastic follow-up Atma was a little too commercial, have not truly embraced the second coming of Eugene, Oregon low-end trio Yob. They are, of course, still revered by large swathes of that fraternity and, as a result, this first album in three years seems like it’s been a long time coming.
Atma was all muscle and power; like Leviathan-era Mastodon on zopiclone, with Mike Scheidt‘s remarkable vocals at times a falsetto evoking an angry Geddy Lee, at others Brett Hinds incarnate. Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot) begins by showing a return to the inventive aspects of …Cessation as opener ‘In Our Blood’ sets out with a gently repetitive chord, the mellifluous tones soon riding a colossal riff moving with the speed of a tortoise, augmented by harsh vocals. A brief lull broken by an explosion of noise returns to the crawling weight, from which the track builds to a crescendo aided by an undercurrent of lead running a length of steel through it.
The brutality continues with the ensuing ‘Nothing to Win’, a faster, rolling rhythm with cavernous, semi-tribal drums down in the mix, the power of the shimmering riff almost sickening. Scheidt’s vocal is phenomenal, veering from the roar of a deranged gorilla to screamed choruses, via passages of spat malevolence; while Travis Foster keeps up a sensational pace through the first seven minutes before dictating an eerie, somewhat aboriginal comedown in a remarkable show of drumming.
‘Unmask the Spectre’, with its whispered vocal and subtle guitar initially offers stark contrast before the unstoppable creeping juggernaut crashes in once more, Scheidt’s evil roar reminiscent of Bastard of the Skies’ Matt Richardson. The tide is stemmed occasionally by those softer interludes, the voice hushed but frantically straining to be let loose, before returning to that slow, deliberate pounding. A throaty blues lead is employed here giving a mournful edge around the halfway point and breathing real emotion into a track which throbs and glides, briefly deliberating too long before closing in a euphoric crash of snail-like rhythm and spacey atmospherics.
Epic closer ‘Marrow’ sees a reappearance of that post-style jangle, before a laconic powerhouse of a riff leads that high vocal on a psychedelic crush through the cosmos. When the moving keys and a voice so deep it’s almost inaudible bring the track down it introduces a passage of real beauty, affecting leads dragging a titanic, howling riff and some real passion from Scheidt as the swell gradually builds to the desolate coda of what is essentially a prog-doom ballad, and arguably the band’s finest moment.
All four tracks far exceed the ten-minute mark yet, unlike …Cessation’s occasionally meandering nature, none here exceed their welcome. Combining the best aspects of the band’s aforementioned last albums this is a perfect blend of weight, hostility, melody and ecstasy, and will need many plays to yield its full array of splendour.
Doom kings YOB, fresh off of their headline appearance at last months Stumpfest, is prepping their brand new opus, Clearing The Path To Ascend for release. The Oregon natives recorded at Gung Ho Studio in Eugene with a trove of vintage gear befitting of their greatness with their long time producer Billy Barnett. Mastering was handled by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Beastmilk, Nails).
Comments main man Mike Scheidt –
“Writing this album felt like being plugged into a main. Emotionally, it’s our heaviest. But it also has some real beauty and light. We dug the deepest we ever have to get to the heart of these tunes.”
More news to come soon on this release, in the meantime… enjoy this new track!