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Yo! Your Yob: Clearing the Path to Ascend to Doom Mastery

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At the beginning of the first track on Yob’s transcendent new album Clearing The Path To Ascend (“In Our Blood”), an omniscient-sounding (i.e., British) voice matter-of-factly proclaims “Time to wake up…” — an ironic sentiment for a slow, brooding doom band that in plenty of other contexts might lull you off to beddy-byes. But in this case the statement is totally apropos: you’re about to experience is a rich album that is here to expand your consciousness.

The fantastic opening track on Clearing the Path to Ascend is an appropriate microcosm for the powerful album as a whole — Yob’s band’s first release on Neurot Recordings — as well as the band’s underlying mission statement. Aside from the apparent goal of opening your puny little minds, the sounds feel to be moving the subgenre forward in the oh-so-right direction, one that can trudge ahead with deliberately patient fury but also infuse a substantial amount of unabashed melody that elevates the style to the next level.

Eugene, Oregon’s mighty Yob do psychedelic doom the way you’d hope to hear it; from dense, crushing riffage to mellow introspective interstitial passages, this is thick, moody heaviness with a soulful tinge to it. The musicianship displayed by the band goes far beyond what you’d expect from a typical doom outfit; even when the members are vibing simply on one repetitive riff there is a comfortable, profound mastery held within. And just as the music shifts in tone throughout, so do the always-winning vocals; in several sections there is a powerful, throaty organic scream on top, and yet clean singing feels just as comfortable in plenty of rocking parts as well. There is also an ominously whispered intro for one song (fittingly titled “Unmask The Spectre”), as well as a hushed, spooky spoken section in the same track.

As with most bands/songs in the doom arena, the tracks are unsurprisingly quite lengthy, with the shortest one clocking in at almost eleven-and-a-half minutes while the longest is just under nineteen minutes. Even with just four tracks on this record we’re still looking at a full hour’s worth of music, which does feel slightly long at times. However, with such earnest, quality material it’s hard to judge too much; better to let this stellar trio do its thang.

The aforementioned opening track “In Our Blood” is quite a ripper (seventeen minutes’ worth!) to open a supremely impressive album. Second song “Nothing To Win” doesn’t hit quite as hard as the first song, but it has a bit of a more morose, downtrodden mood to it that doom purists might better connect. Once third track “Unmask The Spectre” kicks in, it pummels accordingly, even more so than the first couple offerings on the album.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any more epic… along comes the gorgeous final track (and longest on the album), “Marrow,” which starts off with a two-minute, delicate, post-rock intro that repeats throughout the lengthy track with beautifully distorted guitars and soaring, triumphant melodic vocals. If this song was condensed into a tight five-minute edit, “Marrow” could perhaps find a place as a successful radio rock ballad, but its repetitive nature somehow seems essential, creating a significantly emotional, meditative mood that certainly feels worth the length. Despite the duration, I could listen to this uplifting song over and over again; it’s one of my favorite tracks so far this year.

I don’t always doom, but when I do doom… I YOB.

YOB’s Clearing the Path to Ascend comes out September 2 on Neurot. You can stream the entire album here and pre-order it here.

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