Music Review

YOB – Our Raw Heart [REVIEW]


YOB
Our Raw Heart (2018)
Grade B+

 

Yob is a three piece metal band from Oregon that started in the 90s broke up in the mid-aughts and have bee going strong since their album The Great Cessation came out in 2009.

Stronger. If you sign off on the cliche that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you such.

Mike Scheidt de facto YOB leader, on guitars and signature nasally vocals almost died during a fight with the intestinal disease diverticulitis. I didn’t interview him so I won’t rehash what other reporters and interviewers have already documented. If you’re interested I recommend starting with this very well written noisey article that Mike Scheidt wrote himself. YOB came out alive and have released Our Raw Heart that is sure to end up on many end of year best of lists.

The album cover will be the first thing that sticks out to any YOB fan. Their previous three albums all had drab (but beautiful) gray and yellow tones in the art work that created a tension and feeling of being in some post apocalypse or empty planet. Our Raw Heart takes a different approach, with an almost stained glass colorful style art direction that has a more clear psychedelic bend and had me come into the music with a different mindset.



That color on the cover may have colored my initial reaction of the music. On early listens I considered the album on early listens far more prog metal with the doom elements set in the background compared to ATMA and Clearing the Path the Ascend. But after listening to the new record a number of times and going back and listening to their recent run, Our Raw Heart feels like a continuation. It is a sum of new experiences, talent and compositions written within a YOB shaped box. YOB is an example of a band that never loses their sound but brings something different enough that it still feels like a new album with new thoughts in a different time without ever not clearly being YOB.

If you count yourself as a fan of the band you’ll be excited by the new additions to their lore, excited by the band’s return and this album will sit well next to the YOB mythology you’ve created in your own mind and raw heart. It doesn’t matter where you rank the album in their catalog, it belongs there.

If YOB was never to your taste, then I don’t think Our Raw Heart will move far enough in the progressive metal direction to gain fans of that genre. They are setting a different progressive path than Neurosis developing their sound within the walls of emotive doom riffs.

I am a YOB fan.

I’ve fallen in love with the song order on Our Raw Heart. Song order is something very important to those of us that still think in terms of albums rather than tracks. This new offering starts off very doom with Scheidt’s nasally vocals and doom growls set behind the music which although powerful still has a meditative element. The album moves right into a YOB standard, the chuggy and fast repetitive riff that stays sounding like doom metal because of the the harsh slow vocals set on top of it. The end of the album has new compositions doing exactly what you know and love (or dislike) from YOB. Large riffs, slow pounding music that wanders and tries to discover something for the sake of wondering, wandering and discovering.

Lyrically Mike Scheidt stuck to his Buddhist, dark and meditative themes. Despite the longs songs his lyrics remain very minimalist, designed to fit between the riffs or to have single words screamed at moments that are best for the song. The doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of metal lyrical tropes about emptiness and brokenness, but those tropes fit the mood YOB creates with the music. All the lyrics have an end of the world or end of something theme, but In Reverie and the song that follows it Lungs Reach seem to be directly related. With In Reverie Scheidt sings:

Skin breathes mystery

Lungs reach in reverie

Free in eternal sea

Sink into the deep

Lungs reach in reverie

 

To get the most out of this album and to experience where Mike Scheidt is emotionally and creatively the listener will have to fire up their search engine to study terms like Rigpa and Ayni because you won’t get a song that is a story about being in a hospital or a lyric that tries to rhyme diverticulitis. Those would not feel like YOB lyrics.

So far my listening of Our Raw Heart has been all digital. I ordered the vinyl and will comment on the sound on twitter and comment on the art and packaging. I purchased it on black but Relapse Records sold a few beautiful colored vinyl editions most which are sold out and probably selling for too expensive on discogs.

I gave the album a B+ because I think Our Raw Heart is an incredible showing that still manages to be YOB while changing and advancing just enough. I am just not convinced we’ve discovered everything that YOB is or know to what expanse YOB will take us in the future. It is a future I’m excited to experience.