Review Summary: YOB go through their unique and highly addictive motions.
Since the release of Elaborations of Carbon
back in 2001, YOB, the extreme doom outfit from Eugene, Oregon have traveled quite a long and interesting journey within the seemingly silent subterranean oceans of doom metal. While their debut was plain decent in the sense that every band has to start from somewhere, their 2003 follow-up, Catharsis
, excelled in showcasing the hidden link that binds extreme doom to the blues. 2004’s The Illusion of Motion
aptly set the foundations of the band’s trademark sound, while 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived
was a immense exhibition of how extreme doom, psychedelic influences and rock n’ roll can work in favor of each other. Just a few specs of time after reaching its creative peak, the band experienced internal conflicts and split for quite a while. However, a renewed line-up was assembled, and the release of The Great Cessation
in 2009 was hailed throughout the globe as probably their best and most extreme work to date. Precisely 2 years after, YOB are releasing their 6th album, Atma
, calling for their cult following to pay homage to their new effort.
, Yob prolifically dust out nearly all the patents that made them such an intimate and special band during the past ten years. Throughout the 5 songs which bare a markedly extended temporal length, the characteristic and crushing/oriental/sludgy riffs of Jon Scheidt are once again laid to settle slowly over the powerful yet ritualistic rhythm section of Travis Foster (drums) and Aaron Reisberg (bass). The lead guitar melodies are attractively psychedelic and on par with the rhythm guitars as per usual (the divine melody that opens “Adrift in the Ocean” comes in mind), while a great deal of them is of oriental origin as well and in accordance with the rhythm guitar riffs. The record’s most obvious advent lies in the tremendous enhancement of Scheidt’s solo singing (both guttural and “clean”) and his fruitful collaboration with Scott Kelly, of Neurosis fame, in the songs “Before We Dreamed of Two” and “Adrift in the Ocean”. Scheidt uses his clean vocals as the psychedelic substrate upon which the soothing voice of Kelly spreads like butter on bread or, in other words, as a high-pitch antithesis to Kelly’s “sub terra” vocals. The final outcome could be described as an awkwardly beautiful doom metal choir. Furthermore, the songs’ structure is adjusted in such a way, in order for Kelly’s vocals to work as a silent go-between between the past and future intensity bursts within the song’s arrangements.
The ritualistic nature of the music is heavily sustained by the overall concept of the lyrics. This time, Scheidt is readily focused on the importance of an individual in finding its true self (Atma in Sanskrit language). This personal voyage through the experiences and visions of the mind does not account for the occurrence of physical phenomena as self reference. The nature of the lyrics’ concept is more than welcome for those who faithfully observed YOB’s previous work, as Scheidt has used several abstract concepts as inspiration for his lyrics, explicitly cited in the main titles of previous albums. Except from the lyrics, the record’s mystic aura is also favored by the sound production. The sound of guitars is simply awesome and as sludgy as it can get. The rhythm section is heavy and majestic as well, while the vocals have the appropriate volume level, adding the proper dynamics to the effect of music.
Despite the album’s merits – all songs are memorable and with good replay depth – the elements that would assess Atma
as substantially different with respect to the band’s previous records, are rather missing. The riffs and the characteristic structure of the melodies, while they are quite original with respect to the genre’s overall outtake in general, they have been used in previous records by the band in a merely as-is basis. In addition, the band’s song writing, while it is solid overall, it stands relatively far from the sheer excellence of previous albums. Despite all that, Atma
is ideal for establishing a great first contact with the band’s work. However, for long time fans, this record has a high chance of turning out to be a very slow grower, as an indirect consequence of the aforementioned arguments.
In retrospect, with Atma
YOB go through their unique and highly addictive motions, while their 10-year course of continuous musical advents within the genre of extreme doom metal seems to come to an end. This is not a bad thing altogether, considering the overall quality of Atma
. Inevitably, from a temporal point further, all bands cease to further enrich their unique sound, while they refine/recycle it in efforts to come (that is if they don’t change it from its very foundations) and YOB couldn’t be an exception, for better or for worse. Whatever the case may be, the sure thing is that YOB won’t go down to decay without a fight and Atma
is the first piece of hard evidence to substantiate that notion.