Our Raw Heart by YobRelease date: June 8, 2018
Label: Relapse Records
The Oregon transcendental doomsters Yob return with their raw, heart-filled record named Our Raw Heart.
Cards on the table, I feel like I’ve had an unusual listening relationship with this band, having seen them a bunch of times, including at Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands, but weirdly–and almost uniquely–I found I enjoyed them far more seeing them at venues OTHER than in Tilburg (in a dingy warehouse-style space in Birmingham, and in a bizarre chandeliered space above a courtroom in Toronto with Dark Castle and Sons of Otis, where the sound of every riff clanged sharply off the marble-faced walls). In each of those spaces they were spectacular and shattering, whereas their feted shows at Roadburn seemed a little cold somehow. And their previous records I’ve enjoyed but they haven’t felt as essential as say, Om’s stripped back meditations or Monarch!’s hardcore drone doom epics in a vaguely similar mood of expansive, crushing slowness.
So as background you could say I wasn’t fully signed up, while acknowledging them as a fearsome force in doom. Our Raw Heart, however, is a fierce and urgent statement. Before listening I didn’t read too much into reports of Mike Scheidt’s newly resolved serious health issues, but, like with Dylan Carlson’s recovery prompting a new lease of riff-heavy life for Earth recently, it’s impossible not to hear an energetic renewal in the power of this record.
Striking on first listen, and really deepening and developing through repeated hearings, is a sort of dense consistency, a rumbling insistent continuity in tone that is simultaneously austere and richly intense. While the riffs aren’t that similar, nor the shape of the album as a whole, the touchstone here is Sleep’s mighty Dopesmoker, and what Brad Boatright called ‘dynamic sustain’ when he was remastering the monstrous thing, a kind of depth foundation to ground all the snaking snarling riffs for all time. The artwork on the cover has a lurid, lively luminosity which could invite all kinds of esoteric speculations (love those thangka-style clouds!), a range of oblique shapes and references brought together by a strange glow, just like those diverse riffs melted into a great album through its fearsome hum.
And the album is a hefty slab, too, with five of the seven tracks reaching beyond ten minutes, but despite the continuous bass-mantra backdrop, there’s diversity enough that each track feels important, fresh and intense while contributing to the whole. The opening track ‘Ablaze’ is a classic doom riff exploration for example, which is to be expected, but there’s also a sort of post-black metal feel later on in the levitation riffing and in the gruff shouty vocals too on ‘Original Face’, a light-dark contrast on the comparatively brief ‘Lungs Reach’, while the second track ‘The Screen’ has an unclassifiable shuddering, engine-stalling riff. The latter is really quite unusual, and though it does begin to flow later on, there’s something oddly catching about it that I’m still not sure I get on with- though for its experimentation and stretching the bounds of the riff I’m glad it exists. Elsewhere on the album there’s no such concerns, as the diversity of styles (aforementioned post-black metal channeling here; seeds of classic metal vocalists there) is subordinated to the seriously heavy droning power of that pummeling low end, and the oceanic flow of the riffs and the songwriting that joins them together in a tidal battering that washes over the listener.
The emotional core of the record is definitely the longest track ‘Beauty in Falling Leaves’, which is a properly stunning doom epic, janging and dringing opening chords giving way to a riff and vocals like they’re tearing down mountainous walls with bare hands to let the luminous weird light of the album cover in. Filling all of its sixteen minutes and fifty-seven seconds with raw doom heart power, this is a brilliantly experimental yet burstingly heavy beast, the jewel in the seven-petalled lotus that is Yob’s far-reaching yet deep-rooted recording.