Review Summary: „He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood…”
Few bands in contemporary metal is as audacious and tough as Oregon extreme doom metal masters YOB. By breaking the average concept about song lengths with huge and lengthy compositions that combine every angle the heaviest guitar-centric musical genres listening to their work is closer to a real transcendent experience that just simply enjoying some mashes of feel-good notes. With a large emphasis on ridiculously slow but catchy pacing with distorted, noisy and detuned guitar riffs and equally mud-drenched bass, simplistic but effective drumming they don’t represent themselves as the pinnacle of technicality but they don’t have to. The sheer atmosphere they can create with their well-timed simplicity is amazing and that’s what matters.
On their second album “Catharsis” pretty much build upon the foundations of their first record “Elaborations of Carbon” but they also make some key corrections. The production is better and assessable, the songwriting is much more focused and straight-to-the-point thus “Catharsis” paints a very clear picture about a band that managed to form their own style of music while also paying respectable amount of homage to the ones that influenced them greatly. But it’s also not a simple headbanger from start finish, it’s a complex and fascinating beast that ranges from many quiet and peaceful to wild and maniac. Sometimes it’s Black Sabbath on steroids, other times it’s Neurosis with more fuzz.
The album has only three songs and even their titles are very fitting: “Aeons”, “Ether” and “Catharsis”. “Aeons” is 18 minute long, “Catharsis” is 23 minute long thus “Ether” feels like a short breather compared to the with its 7 minute length. As you can see Mike Scheidt and his company have a lot of time to work with but they sure as hell don’t begin to fluster around. “Aeons” begins with quiet percussions and bass lines and only after two minutes we get some bluesy leads from Scheidt. Then at the four minute mark when the song explodes with a wall of sound and fury. From here the song becomes an oscillation of cleaner and heavier parts, the former being led by Scheidt’s nasal, high-pitched vocals buried under studio effects. There is a very heavy sense of psychedelia in this song that makes its overall feel eerie close to stoner doom pioneers Sleep and that’s definitely a good comparison to bring up.
With its rhythmic tempo and dynamic grooves “Ether” is without the doubt the most accessible track on the whole record. Funny how this song can easily remind stoner/doom metal fans to another Matt Pike project, the equally monolithic and sludgy High on Fire. And something like this is surely well needed before the gigantic title track which sprawls around the band’s entire musical hallway in its 23 minute length. It is a trailblazing display of the band’s ability to push the continuous build-up to its limits and then making a right transition just before the song would become boring. Starts out somewhat uplifted before it ascends into increasingly hellish and brutal riff territories and guttural voice passages just before ends with sheer dissonant mayhem.
From its sluggish and crunching guitar accords and chaotic solos, to its raw, crude and instinctive nature and musical texture, “Catharsis” show YOB as a fully equipped band with ten tons of atmospheric drone doom under their belt which they deliver with flawless execution. Their passion and talent is palpable, and their ambition is grand yet they didn’t collapsed under it. You might not get into their music easily but it sure as hell worth the try.