“ATMA” – Noun,
1) The Principle of Life
2) The Individual Self
3) (Initial capital letter) the world Soul, from which all individual souls derive, and to which they return as the supreme goal of existence.
4) The latest crushingly awesome release from long running doom legends YOB
After a brief hiatus from the world of doom, Oregon’s YOB returned to a hero’s welcome in 2009 with THE GREAT CESSATION. During their absence, it seemed that the legend of YOB grew to mythical proportions, allowing Mike Scheidt and company some primo festival spots and a new audience ready for their brand of caustically rhythmic sludge. Proving the comeback wasn’t a lucky fluke, the band’s latest release ATMA pushes that caustically rhythmic sludge into more organic and angrier directions than its predecessor and is arguably the best in the band’s 15 year history.
The opening low end sonic pummel of “Prepare the Ground” gets you psyched for the brick upside the head to come. Marching forward like Godzilla stuck in a swamp, the combination of the volatile bottom end rhythm, screeching guitars and Scheidt’s noticeably more distinct vocals create an atmosphere of esoteric fury. The following title track is full of deep, punctuated pauses and resonating fuzz, wrapped in a blanket of teeth grinding guitars. The 16-minute opus “Before We Dreamed of Two” sees the trio stepping into more psychedelic territories as the tune descends into a droning trance, bridged by moments of disturbingly isolated guitar notes. “Upon the Sight of the Other Shore” is a discordant bully, intent on creating an uncomfortable atmosphere through bulky layers of six-string noise. But the closing “Adrift in the Ocean” is nothing short of spectacular. Possibly the most melodic song yet to bear the YOB moniker, the way that it evolves from beginning to end is reason enough to merit a purchase.
ATMA sounds noticeably grittier than THE GREAT CESSATION, a quality that lends it a much earthier presentation. The low end of the guitars is intentionally pronounced in the mix, often sounding like the speaker cabinet is right in front of you. In a sense it integrates the listener into the performance, but more importantly, it just makes the whole damn thing sound meaner. The songwriting, performances, and general attitude of ATMA give it a credibility that many bands in the genre never achieve. One of the most highly anticipated doom releases of the year, ATMA doesn’t disappoint. If anything, it’s set YOB’s creative bar higher yet again.
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