» Blog Archive Review: Yob's Appropriately Titled Our Raw Heart -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Streaming

There’s seldom an album I listen to where I immediately love it. Granted, I like a lot of music. “Like” being the emphasis;  I like At the Gates. I love Insomnium, I like Darkthrone. I love Emperor. Even then, I’m generally only listening to the album that I love in my spare time the artist rather than trying to convince myself to love a different album by them. I’m picky about what I love. With that logic in mind, Yob’s Our Raw Heart is a stupendous, if not transcendent album that I loved from the get-go. Three minutes into the ten minute minute opening track and it was immediatey obvious that this album was on another level, entirely separate from the rest of the pack. There’s a lot of hype for Yob’s eighth album, and none of it can squander it for you.

Oregon’s Yob have made a new for themselves in the doom metal community, especially in recent years with releases such as Atma and Cleansing the Path to Ascend receiving high praise from larger media outlets. Misfortune fell on the band early last year when frontman and guitarist Mike Scheidt was diagnosed with acute diverticulitis, but with a GoFundMe and benefit show, Scheidt was quickly on his way to recovering. Our Raw Heart comes four years after the band’s previously released Cleansing, and with it the band have crafted what is possibly their finest work yet. From nefarious and menacing doom progressions to spacious sonic landscapes that covers more sound than three musicians should be able to make, Our Raw Heart is an adventure of celestial proportions, but with a heart that is as ever-present in this sprawling 73-minute journey.

The aforementioned opening track, “Ablaze,” segues into the album’s heavier moments, namely “The Screen” and “In Reverie.” Though I go on about song lengths in my reviews and I look for variety and encourage bands to push forward in making their sounds unique, Yob quickly become the prime example of how to take ten minutes of music and transform it into a gripping and attention-grabbing piece. Though “In Reverie” is arguably as heavy as “The Screen,” the latter employs arm-clenching triplets for the majority of the song, whereas the former is as close to traditional doom as you’re going to get, all the while still being carved into Yob’s own niche.

As “In Reverie” closes, it transitions into “Lungs Reach,” the album’s shortest track at five minutes and forty seconds, which opts to focus on ambiance and some unearthly reverb, shimmer, and noises to segue into the song’s last third, pushing Yob to a dirge of sorts with an explosion of sound. It’s the album’s bleakest moment as the song spirals down and hits a near-funeral doom tempo, but miraculously transitions into the album’s brightest and most colorful endeavor, “Beauty in Falling Leaves.” By no means the band’s longest song, “Beauty” creeps past 16 minutes in length, but whereas the risk of dragging a song out becomes a problem in other cases, Yob have earned that length not only by this point on the album, but in their career as a whole. “Beauty” is not only the album’s highlight, but a landmark for the modern era of doom. 

There’s very much to speak of at length on Our Raw Heart, but perhaps what  praise can sung is that it never drags. Granted, a 16 minute song is still 16 minutes, and the closing title track slips past the 14 minute mark without batting so much as an eyelash, but the songs never feel like filler or a means to an end. A colorful rollercoaster of events throughout, Our Raw Heart justifies being 73 minutes. How often do I criticize albums for having filler tracks? How often do I dread an album that passes the one hour? Though musically different, this is much like Tool’s Lateralus in that the length is justified by viewing the album as an entire piece and state of mind, mhgest.

The production side of the album is just as praise worthy, as everything is damn near perfectly leveled. I’ve listened to the album twice with headphones and once in the car, and to be honest, the more intimate and personal your listening with this album makes it all the better. Schneidt’s guitar is massive at all times, but the cleans remain uncompressed and are allowed plenty of time to breathe and create lush dynamics throughout. Doubling under his guitar parts, bassist Aaron Rieseberg caps off a natural sounding wall of sound, helping create an envelope that is both tight, powerful, and terrestrial, while verging into spiritual territory on the album’s softer parts. While doom bands typically opt for the vintage sound, Yob have nailed the “live in the studio” impression, and it’s a production style I would love to hear experience more often.

Our Raw Heart is a release that we don’t get all too often. One can argue that all of Yob’s albums are great, and they’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’d disagree with them, but this one is surely special. From varied and top-notch song writing to a production that perfectly captures a band at the top of their game, the entirety of metal is going to have to square up with Our Raw Heart come the end of the year for top spots on Best Of lists. It’s a beast of an album, highly meditative in its serenity, but just as engaging and rewarding with how hard it hits at its darkest moments. One of the finest releases of the year, no mistake about it.

Our Raw Heart is out on Relapse Records this Friday, June 8th. You can stream “The Screen” below.

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