Oregon may be the state that hones the hipster utopia known as Portland, but it’s also the humble abode to some of the most highly regarded bands in the underground scene. Though not a whole lot of them, one that definitely rules above the rest is none other than Eugene locals Yob, who’ve made their triumphant return to the world of metal, four years after their seventh magnum opus known as “Clearing the Path to Ascend” with a whole new myriad of doom and stoner sludge perfection. Here we have the group’s eighth studio LP “Our Raw Heart”, which has exposed a whole new side of themselves that’s taken the band to new heights.
To round things off, the first track Ablaze features these almost droney and filthy slow riffs that are accompanied by Mike Scheidt’s vocals approaching in a low and gritty Ozzy Osbourne style. The Screen, however takes a dive into a much deeper and obscure ilk, where these snail-paced galloping guitars plague throughout the majority of this piece. In Reverie opens with this very low tuning opening on the strings that almost feel like they’re taking the role of a percussionist, only to then proceed with an aggressive and unexpected drop on the amps. For this song, you get a micro-dose of Neurosis and Melvins in the mix while coalescing with these very grainy vocal scratches by Scheidt that play along with the rest of the song rather fluidly.
Things get eerie and darkly ambient for the next five and a half minutes on the song Lungs Reach, only to then drop these guttural groans from the bass and guitar, followed by some bellowing groans and growls that would make a grizzly bear sound like a litter of kittens. However, Yob musically channel a bit of Tool in the practice of Beauty in Falling Leaves with traces of blues and folk at the start and these flourishing percussions, along with a substantially prog-inspired loom and its structure staples a whole new sonic fingerprint. The fastest song on here being Original Face draws less of the post-metal projection and more as a stoner/sludge metal psalm and brings out a broader landscape to the personification. Meanwhile, as part of the epic conclusion, the clean, echoing guitars as well as the distorted layers executed by Scheidt are grounded by a hypnotic sensation in the title track Our Raw Heart, where Scheidt’s lyrics kind of make you question as to whether “Our Raw Heart” really is the closing point of his thoughts on the cycle of life, death and what stands between the two.
While the lo-fi qualities are present in the mixing and production of the songs, Yob managed to steer into a direction with the tones to clear themselves away from anything sounding muddy and give each track a bit more personality in its own subtext. Despite there being a few minor melodies inhabited in “Our Raw Heart”, there really is not a whole lot of melodic layering, but it’s not like the dissonance is all there in the process either. But it’s more of the trauma and the emotions that really give the record its own distinctive sound more than the actual production that was put into “Our Raw Heart”.
Although, this record carries a highly unsettling aura that I feel the band has exploited in a way that they’ve never done before. Here’s why; in late November, frontman Mike Scheidt was diagnosed with an intestinal disease called acute diverticulitis and was treated for it in hospital. Considering that “Our Raw Heart” was written during his time in hospital, his poetry involved in this album is a lot more grim and upsetting as the man had almost passed away from such a horrific few months he had to experience. Such can be interpreted in The Screen, which has these melancholic lyrics that go “Searching seen through, emptied one, sensing old death, sharing no house with it”. But, there’s a lot more to the libretto of Scheidt other than just the concept of near death experiences, and he kind of sheds a bit more light on the journey of life itself and the determination to survive.
Having known Yob since the album prior to “Our Raw Heart”, I can say that the trio just seem to outdo themselves in ways that transpire differently with the listener. The beauty about them is that Yob have a plethora of albums that are gonna stand out to anyone if they were to listen to the band for the first time. Whether it’s an introduction to them or not, Yob’s latest achievement is going to rip you a new one and there’s no doubt you’d wanna dive deeper into their world.
Grab your copy of Our Raw Heart out via Relapse Records HERE