Released: 2014, Neurot Recordings
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Experiencing a new YOB album is akin to a spiritual event. It requires the listener to fully immerse themselves in the music, to submit to the waves of rhythmic low end drone as they come pounding out of the speakers. It creates an almost trance like environment, but maybe “meditative” is a better word? Over the last 14 years, Mike Scheidt has steadily practiced the art of creating such moments through massive riffs and psychotropic musings, the perfected culmination of which comes to us now in the form of CLEARING THE PATH TO ASCEND.
YOB are one of those bands that always deliver exactly what you expect them to, but manage to do so without ever sounding like they’re plagiarizing themselves. At its core, CLEARING THE PATH TO ASCEND is classic YOB; slow, low, heavy and loud, Scheidt’s nasal croon bellowing esoteric just beneath the surface. But CLEARING THE PATH TO ASCEND takes that core of molten sludge and evolves it into a fully expansive musical universe. The guitar pulsations of “In Our Blood” create a sort of hypnotic rhythm, which is bridged with solitary echoed strings and questioned musings of “what is reality?” “Nothing to Win” is the most aggressive and up-tempo of the four new tracks, roaring with growls and a hostile jam session that sounds closer to home with High on Fire than a hippy trio. “Unmask the Spectre” introduces a simple discordant melody that’s persistent throughout the 15 minute track as it rages and subsides like a mythical sea monster, but it’s the album’s final act, “Marrow”, that truly defines CLEARING THE PATH TO ASCEND. In a word, this 18-minute opus is beautiful. It’s a hauntingly subdued song that exudes images of both futility and hope, of love and loss. Its repetitive riff anchors key changes and tonal shifts throughout the life of the song, creating an immediate YOB classic and quite possibly one of the best songs from any band I’ve heard all year.
Even with an hour of run time spread across a scant four tunes, I found myself so swept up in the album that the time on the clock never really registered. The pace and presentation of each tune will capture your attention and won’t release you until it’s good and ready to. Look - if you’re not already on board the doom train, none of this is really going to matter. But if you’re already a fan of YOB or are looking for a doom record that will alter your perceptions and bore deep into your psyche, CLEARING THE PATH TO ASCEND is an essential purchase. YOB is love, and you will love this album.