Review Summary: Due to non-linear, complex song structure and captivating dynamics, “Atma” feels like a concept progressive rock album being filtered through doom and sludge metal standards.
The Eugene, Oregon-based trio, Yob, proved to be up there among the most essential acts in the doom metal genre by delivering one stellar album after another during the last decade. With every new record, they have been getting more proficient in crafting oppressively heavy doom metal epics. Released in 2005, “The Unreal Never Lived” seems to be the pinnacle of their career showcasing the essence of doom, sludge and drone in an impressively well textured package of four extended jams. Their new album, “Atma,” while not equally abrasive, finds the act verging into a dirtier and sludgier territory. While this music style is hardly original, Yob make the best of it displaying an appropriate level of commitment and intensity in their aptly structured presentation.
The concept of “Atma” revolves around the Buddhist theory of 'self' as the new age voice-over in the title track proclaims. The album indeed feels very organic and earthly throughout being centered around hypnotic, mid-tempo grooves, which along with enigmatically altering dynamics, evoke the permeating atmosphere of decay. The front man, Mike Scheidt, provides heavily distorted, groove-laden riffs accompanied with occasional paranoid soloing. He also shows a major improvement as a vocalist providing a diverse performance that ranges from clean, traditional heavy metal-inspired falsetto singing to demented, brutal growls. This is coupled with not overly technical, yet totally reliable and precise rhythm section.
Sonically, the album focuses on a massive, low-end assault which is interwoven with sparse airy sections. “Prepare The Ground” begins with a monolithic riff that later develops into frenetically layered, quasi-melodic passages. The title track is both stylistically and thematically riveting exploring the concept of spiritual 'self' with a penchant for sludge. "Upon The Sight Of The Other Shore" allures with titanous vocals as well as absolutely towering guitar work. Nearly 16-minute-long ”Before We Dreamed Of Two” happens to be trippy and multi-dimensional venturing into a wide range of gripping sections. The assault suddenly stops and the evocative performance of Neurosis singer, Scott Kelly, kicks in only to bring the astoundingly plodding climax that features amazing dual vocals. The other epic song, “Adrift In The Ocean,” may only disappoint with Scheidt's singing that doesn't gel very well with ambitious music this time around. Other than that, the composition flows swiftly with its tribal, progressive and drone influences being used to great effect.
In essence, due to non-linear, complex song structure and captivating dynamics, “Atma” feels like a concept progressive rock record being filtered through doom and sludge metal standards. While its impact on a listener might not be immediate right from the onset, it certainly earns its status of the essential doom metal album with multiple spins.
"The album indeed feels very organic and earthly throughout being centered around hypnotic, mid-tempo grooves, which along with enigmatically altering dynamics, evoke the permeating atmosphere of decay."
holy hell it's a big word party. love it.
Nice write up Greg. If I knew anything about or liked doom perhaps I'd be into this, but I think I'll pass
yeah actually after I posted that I went and listened to a couple songs (and by a couple I mean one cause it was like 12 minutes long). kinda cool, not sure if I'd dig it for an entire album though haha
Funny as it may be, i have a review ready for this pinpointing more or less what you write plus some more stuff, i don't know if i should post it because it will seem as plagiarism compared to yours lol.
idk... I will leave it up to the mods lol.
Indeed the record is a very slow grower. For me it started as "average" and ended as "great", its end rating imo.
However i thoroughly disagree with the following:
due to non-linear, complex song structure
These two hardly happen in Atma, imo. As for Track 3 - Before We Dreamed of Two - it feels more like a batch of three different tracks made as one, not an entirely good thing altogether.
Plus the last track kinda ends somewhat abruptly, despite its huge temporal length.
This rating is a bit generous for this record, as anything they bring in here, has already existed before in much more inspired versions imo and that's precisely why the record it's a slow grower. In your review you don't provide proof for your final conclusion. Atma somewhat reminds me of The Illusion of Motion minus the complex structure of the latter, but it is surely below anything they issued prior to this.
@silentpotato: For me, it just barely tops The Unreal Never Lived. I thought it was worse after the first couple of spins, but this is such a grower. I'm also a sucker for awesome vocals and this album marks a major improvement in this department.
@iFghtffyrdmns: Cool. It depends on which tracks you've heard. Tracks 3 and 5 are more proggy, the rest is more straightforward.
@Voivod: Cool. I think you should post your review later on. Preferably when this album is released. For me, it started as a solid 4 and now moves to 4.5.
Strangely, I agree with almost everything you stated. Track 3 feels like a batch of 3 different tracks. Very true, but I don't think it's a disadvantage. Prog rock bands do it all the time so why Job can't do it? I dig every one of the components.
Track 5 ends suddenly? Yeah. It's hard to argue with this. I guess it ends so by design. The record is designed as an endless cycle. After the last track, one should listen to the whole album again.
I'm still discovering new layers of this album's sound so I can't say for sure if it's superior to their previous material. What I know is that the vocals are definitely better and more up my alley.