Review Summary: A call from the sky.
I remember having this dream years and years ago. I was standing alone in the middle of a vast, endless deserted landscape with nothing but mountains in sight. It was bright outside, yet there wasn’t any other life to be seen. Even though I was physically alone, there was another presence with me. One that let itself be known through the sound of siren-like wails and thunderous roars that seemed to be directed towards me from way beyond the towering hills in my sight. A voice that soared over the rumbling noises the mountains were making. I got a sense of fear, despite that voice, that consistently seemed to alternate between wails and roars, assuring me there was no reason to be scared. I felt haunted and desolate…but at the same time I felt larger than life, knowing I was witnessing something that was as primordial as it was surreal.
*snap* dream over, back to reality again…
“What does this have to do with anything?”, you might ask. Quite simply because after I had that dream all those years ago, I could never imagine that there would ever be a band, let alone a metal band, that was able to evoke the same feelings out of me as that dream once did. The name of that band is YOB
and they’re, at least in my opinion, one of the most interesting and one of the most forward thinking doom acts of the new millennium.
The Unreal Never Lived
was the last album YOB did with its original line-up, before breaking up in 2006. Guitarist, vocalist, shaman and big chief Mike Scheidt resurrected the band in 2008, but The Unreal Never Lived
still stands as one of YOB’s crowning achievements.
The band pulls off many of their signature tricks on this album. Opener Quantum Mystic
gets down to business with a faster, rock-ish tone, while Grasping Air
provides the listener with a crushing, airy slab of doom. By the time Grasping Air's final notes have played out, the band decides to speed things up again and pummel the listener into oblivion with the riff-centric Kosmos
. Of course, YOB wouldn’t be YOB if they weren’t ending the album with one of their trademark monstrously long closing tracks. The Mental Tyrant
is a 21 minute gargantuan which profits from an eventful, esoteric build up which burrows its way into the listener’s skull, before smashing that same skull into smithereens with an absolutely pounding wall of doomy terror.
The members of the band fire on all cylinders here; drummer Travis Foster provides the whole with a tight rhythm section while bass player Isamu Sato makes use of a warm, rumbling sound which gives the music more than enough texture to construct itself upon. Though the main star of the show here is Mike Scheidt. From the ethereal, psychedelic guitar licks to the crushing doom riffs he provides in all four songs to the spaced out, proggy solo in Grasping Air…Mike’s guitar work is instantly recognizable. On top of that one cannot look past his by now infamous chameleon-like work he does as a vocalist: Scheidt’s able to go from soaring Neil Young-like cleans to ominous whispers to ear-piercing screams to clangorous growls all within the course of one song. His clean vocals might be an acquired taste, yet in their own way they enhance the kaleidoscopic atmosphere YOB’s music conveys.
Even though the band in my opinion created their masterpiece with 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend
, this The Unreal Never Lived
stands together with its predecessor The Illusion of Motion
as one of the band’s most formidable works. A true testament to the talent of a peculiar, but unique band and a must hear for any self-respecting fan of one of metal’s fine subgenres, doom metal.