Yob seems to be the forefront of the Oregon doom metal movement since their formation back in 1996. The band features Mike Scheidt on guitar and vocals, Travis Foster on drums and Aaron Rieseberg on bass. The band’s sound usually summons images of autumn nights and rusty forests, utilizing guitar riffs, mesmerizing bass passages alongside sorrowful, warm vocals and unrelenting percussion.
From tragedy to triumph, YOB’s incredible 8th full-length recording was conceived amidst dreadful times that nearly left frontman Mike Scheidt dead. Suffering from potentially fatal intestinal disease, Scheidt miraculously recovered and reinvigorated the Oregon trio with a new sense of purpose for “Our Raw Heart”, an album motivated by the will to survive. More exposed than ever both physically and emotionally, YOB composed seven tracks of enormous transcendental beauty across 75 minutes of ultimate doom.
The incredible atmosphere and mind bending listening experience that this band manages to create is unparalleled in the doom category..or whatever they fall under. “Our Raw Heart” is an example of an immense and utterly mesmerizing album that must be listened to in its entirety to be appreciated. Highly enjoyable, the seven sublime spells attack with purpose the centrifugal zone of the listeners soul.
“Ablaze” comes on like a glorious compilation of all the things that made Yob great, shrouded in heaviness. It’s a great track with a lot of substance, a solid meditative touch with warm tones. In addition, the guitar here might be reminiscent of Electric Wizard or even the immense consistence of Neurosis. This sometimes even depressive atmosphere is definitely not the sound the apostles of the party generation want to hear.
“The Screen” is just too immense to give an accurate account of musically; it’s the wonder work featured on this album with bone-dry riffs and a constantly slow pace. Gigantic guitar and drum rhythm drive and direct the pace, whilst the overwhelmingly vocals give the tone that accurately aligns each change of tempo.
When the guitars drag the notes and the rest of the band follows, you get some of the best doom metal sections you will ever hear. Atmosphere balanced with violence in a well-rounded fashion. The seven songs are lengthy indeed but the ability showcased by Yob to bend the framework of the genre and create something unique is remarkable. In the effort to establish trance, on “In Reverie”, Yob sacrificed some segments that would have greatly benefited from a guitar solo or two. Luckily the trance compensated for this absence as it is sometimes barely noticeable to the listener as a result of the interchanging tempos. Maturity shimmers through every note, but it does not asphyxiate the vitality of the songs.
I listened the first Yob albums in pretty much the same way, but I tend to listen to this album here the most. I don’t know why, I guess it’s the more various manners of execution, its very dark, meditative tone, its depressing pessimistic aura… it’s tough to tell. What impress the listener almost immediately is the very thick bass sound especially on “Lungs Reach”. You can hear the glasses shake in the kitchen if you play the music louder…
“Beauty in Falling Leaves” is arguably the most ship-sinking track of the album.. It dominates the landscape with such authority that there are moments in which this intimidating march stuck to your memory for days.
“Original Face” is again one more grandiose opus that follows later, with a more characteristic sound; the bass was tamed to a large extent for the sake of sharper, still super heavy guitars.
The last song is the one which gives name to the album. “Our raw heart” it is a track that will give you the very best of Yob. I like it that the material expressed reflective emotions without neglecting the necessary degree of harshness.
The story has got to come to an end, and what’s so brilliant about this album is that they put this last piece of poetry just before the final track. It will also boost the title track, the last one, with all what is needed to say goodbye. It leaves you with a feeling of transcendence and well being.
As is the case with all classic albums, this exceeds being merely a collection of songs. Alternating atmosphere but only from fear to hope, madness to melancholy; this feels like a concept album, one that comes with a warning: this music is highly addictive; use with caution!