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.