Sunday, November 02, 2014

YOB: Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)


I’ve always kind of felt that YOB is a bit overrated. No, let me rephrase that: I used to think YOB was overrated.

Despite Mike Scheidt’s crappy folk album leaving me cold, I already enjoyed both his growled and sung vocals (especially with Vhöl). Yet YOB’s work has always given me the sense that it was just, pretty good. Not great. Clearing the Path to Ascend has fully convinced me. It’s four epic-length tracks totaling over an hour of massive volume and crushing heaviness tempered with a broad emotional range . And it’s just, really good. Great.

The tracks roll by slowly but engagingly. While individually they don’t have the variation of, say, an Opeth song, they aren’t overlong. They do have a measure of rage and despair and sadness within, each with an emotional arc and a crescendo to give the sense they’re telling a story. Dynamically, they put quiet parts where needed and brutal parts in other places.

I want to highlight two tracks in particular. “Nothing to Win” is faster-paced song, doom metal riff played in a black metal style (or vice versa), with a fantastically lively drum beat in a pattern reminiscent of Kylesa. When it slows down to highlight the bass riff and let the feedback ring, that is pure sonic excellence. Closer “Marrow,” on the other hand, is a more introspective, vulnerable piece, a la Pallbearer. It also incorporates melodies which sound strangely like they’re out of some long-lost Lynyrd Skynyrd song that makes tough rednecks cry—but I say that in the most positive way possible.

So, I’m happy to herald their ascension.

The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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