Review Summary: The heaviest album of the year, but sometimes a little too meandering.
I'm no doom metal afficionado, but I appreciate a slow, crushing riff when I hear one. And what serious metal fan doesn't like a good thick atmosphere every now and again? On the reunited YOB's latest album, The Great Cessation
, the Oregonians execute those two elements well, but without a whole lot else.
Mike Scheidt - Guitar/vocals
Aaron Reiseberg - Bass
Travis Foster - Drums
is only five tracks long, but these add up to over an hour of music. This works extremely well for more varied bands, but in a genre like doom metal, it can be very hit or miss. The first two songs, "Burning the Altar" and "The Lie That is Sin," are the hits. "Burning the Altar" starts with a very slow, heavy build-up, before vocalist Mike Scheidt makes his presence known with a distorted roar--you may commence headbanging. "The Lie That is Sin" has a nice little clean guitar section in the beginning, before the same YOB formula is implemented. These may not sound like the greatest descriptions, but the songs will satiate any doom fan's appetite.
Middle track "Silence of Heaven" is the biggest problem here. The middle track on an album is often a great spot to place your best track, as both an outstanding centerpiece and a transition between halves. Here, we merely get stagnation. The 10-minutes of "Heaven" are pure blandness, with no build-up and no crescendo, just a couple of generic doom riffs.
The album picks up again with "Breathing From the Shallows," which at seven-and-a-half minutes, is the perfect length for this type of music. The song makes excellent use of suffocating atmosphere (fitting the title and the lyrics), as well as the contrast between Scheidt's absurdly heavy growls and soaring (albeit hard to understand) clean vocals. From the shortest track, we transition to the longest song, the 20-minute title track. This song is essentially split into two halves: the lighter, climbing first ten minutes, and the back-breaking second ten. Summarizing the entire album in a song that takes up one fifth of it, The Great Cessation
is the prototypical doom metal closer, although it isn't quite as strong as it should be.
Overall, the unrelenting heaviness and riffs of the album far outweigh any of the cons. It's just a little difficult to maintain focus. This is not the best album of the year, but if you just want some atmosphere or a solid head-banging (or -nodding, for we more reserved types), you will not do any better in 2009.