Isolation is treasured by some, and a deep seated fear for others. After battling with a near fatal intestinal infection, frontman and mastermind of spiritual doom legends, Yob, Mike Scheidt found himself long confined to a hospital bed. It makes sense then that desperation and isolation are the two key flavours laced throughout the latest Yob offering, Our Raw Heart.
Opening with the ten minute voyage that is Ablaze, the album sets out its bleak stall early. The guitar work layered throughout this near 80 minute album exudes a depression, ebbing and flowing between heaviness both sonically and emotionally. Schedit’s torment is palpable throughout. His wailed, rasping vocals are infused with genuine pain, something that many doom bands struggle to convincingly convey. The mastery of his vocal delivery is as admirable as his mindset is blackened by his experience.
The instrumentation of the album is carefully considered and varied. The triplets that open The Screen are lumbering and bestial, while Travis Foster’s drumming swings with the weight of a wrecking ball into each cymbal crash. It is all accentuated by a rumbling bass guitar line courtesy of Aaron Reiseberg, filling out the low end that trademarks Yob’s already heavy as hell sound, particularly on In Reverie.
Despite its emotionally complex and engaging lyrical structure, and equally investing musical narrative, the album does begin to falter in its latter stages. Every song bar Lungs Reach breaks the seven minute mark – often stretching beyond nine – and the record drags a little by the time the title track rolls around. Had this album been two tracks shorter it would have been a masterpiece. Its genius is undeniable, but there’s a feeling it is overwritten. With a subject matter of such abject heft, it becomes a claustrophobic endeavour that stretches into discomfort.
Yob’s latest effort just falls short of sublime, but stands proudly in their back catalogue as a more than solid effort. The band themselves play with vigour, and Scheidt’s performance is so deeply personal, you can’t help but find yourself feeling his torment. It is certainly the heaviest album to be released in 2018, and cements Yob’s legendary status within the doom sub genre. Perhaps a little more restraint would make this album perfect, but it is certainly a respectable piece of work.
Our Raw Heart is out now on Relapse Records.