The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019, #22: Yob, Clearing the Path to Ascend
MetalSucks recently polled nearly 180 prominent metal musicians and industry insiders to determine The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019! (You can read all about the voters and the methodology behind the poll here.) Over the next few weeks, we’ll be counting down the entire list, one entry per day.
The countdown continues today with Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot Recordings), the 2014 release by Yob!
Let’s all pause for a minute to reflect on how remarkable it is that a band whose music sounds like Yob’s has earned such praise, respect and success.
In the time it took you to do that, I got through one and a half bars of “In Our Blood,” the near-17-minute opener from Clearing the Path to Ascend, the band’s unyieldingly brutal and positively breathtaking 2014 album.
My point is this: Yob’s music is slooooow. It takes extreme patience to appreciate. Which is why it’s even more impressive that the Eugene, OR-based trio has legions of adoring fans the world over. Most bands with songs this long — only one of Clearing‘s four tracks is less than 15 minutes, “Nothing to Win,” at a measly 11 — dazzle with technical chops, progressive song structures and adventurous arrangements, but Yob do none of those things, playing riffs with relatively few notes (often held for several bars at a time), using post-metal’s dynamic song structures and for the most part keeping what you hear on record to what the three of them can produce on stage.
But Yob had been a band for nearly 20 years before Neurot Recordings released Clearing the Path to Ascend, albeit with a short break between 2006 and 2008. So why did it take metal audiences at large so long to connect with what the band was doing?
I’d be pretending if I claimed to know — the forces of cultural relevance and taste are a mystery to all — but I’d surmise it was simply the perfect storm of, well, everything. The early-mid ’10s metal landscape was lush for doom, with bands all over the scattered doomosphere and its cousin, post-metal, gaining attention and scoring record deals, many undeserved. And there were Yob, once good enough for Metal Blade, once good enough for Profound Lore, and now offered a deal by Neurosis, the kings of this particular niche, trucking along, doing what they’d always done — remarkably emotional, expansive doom — and suddenly it clicked in the collective minds of metal fans everywhere.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that the songs on Clearing are some of the most intricately sculpted and deliberately constructed of the band’s career, each a cinematic journey within their own running time, songs to get lost in, bathe with, explore, expand inside and release outwards.
I’m just glad the band finally earned the attention they deserved and were able to use Clearing as a springboard to even bigger and greater things, ushering the band into the universally respected pantheon of Great Metal Bands.