YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend: It’s Time to Wake Up

Posted in Reviews on September 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

yob clearing the path to ascend

Clearing the Path to Ascend is the point at which YOB abandons the formula they’ve been building over the course of the last five years. In its construction and in the execution of the songs themselves, it is still very much their own, but stands apart immediately from past outings, particularly the two released since the Eugene, Oregon, trio got back together after their 2005 breakup, 2009’s The Great Cessation (review here) and 2011’s Atma (review here). Clearing the Path to Ascend – also the band’s Neurot Recordings label debut — strips away a lot of what united those two records, elements like catchy openers “Burning the Altar” and “Prepare the Ground,” and a near-standard foray in guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt‘s signature triplet gallop, which is something that YOB has used to send chills up doomers’ spines since 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived. Songs like “Breathing from the Shallows,” these massive washes of abrasive, unyielding noise, seem as well to be a thing of the past. That’s not to say YOB can’t or won’t ever incorporate any of these things again, but even if they do, Clearing the Path to Ascend will have been the record that proved that wasn’t what the band needed to be. In the meantime, what we’re left with on their seventh full-length and pivotal third since reuniting with Scheidt, drummer Travis Foster and bassist Aaron Rieseberg, is a scathingly honest, human creativity unlike anything else in doom, cosmic or otherwise. An hour-plus four-track release with no individual piece under 11 minutes, it is YOB at their most melodically progressive and an album that dares to let its emotional resonance meet and, especially in closer “Marrow,” surpass an at times barbarous tonal heft. YOB haven’t put a studio LP out in a decade that I didn’t pick as my Album of the Year, and given the sincere nature of the material on display here it seems all the more foolish to feign impartiality. I am a fan of the band, and Clearing the Path to Ascend is their most accomplished outing yet.

Opener “In Our Blood” (16:56) begins with a sample that says simply, “It’s time to wake up.” While this would seem to promise an explosion, but instead, Scheidt‘s guitar quietly introduces the undulating rhythm line that will comprise the core of the song, a roll that, when Foster and Rieseberg kick in after the first minute, sets a lumbering course pace-wise that the bulk of the record will stick to. Vocals, which in years past have typically come either in an ethereal wail or destructive growl, are clearer, cleaner and more confident than they’ve ever been — Scheidt‘s debut solo work, Stay Awake (review here), and subsequent touring could easily be read as a factor in that — but when “In Our Blood”‘s first growls arrive shortly before the five-minute mark, they’re no less vicious than they’ve ever been. Already, YOB have changed course from their last several albums, the way Clearing the Path to Ascend lurches gradually to life rather than slamming listeners with an initial immediacy only to expand from there. It comes across as dispensing with a formality — getting right to the heart of the matter in a different way that’s more immersive for the listening experience of the entirety rather than giving an initial standout and then letting the rest of the album make its statement. Another clean, rolling verse ensues and trades back to growls — it’s not a chorus, but a repeated and expanded part, anyway — before “In Our Blood” shifts into its next movement near its halfway point, a bridge leading to an ambient break, Rieseberg and Foster dropping out to leave the guitar as a bed for an expanded version of the sample that began the song, British philosopher Alan Watts asking, “What is reality? Obviously, no one can say because it isn’t words. It isn’t material, that’s just an idea. It isn’t spiritual — that’s also an idea,” before the “Time to wake up” is repeated and the song bursts back to life, Scheidt loosing a roar that’s primal but which serves more of an ambient purpose than an aggressive one. The riff that will serve as the foundation for the remaining time takes hold, a guitar solo is layered in, deep in the mix, and cycles meet a culmination after 15 minutes in as guitars continue to build and growling lines surface from the plod, the last of them sustained to the point of Scheidt‘s voice breaking as the instruments behind end with a barrage of feedback giving way directly to the punch of drums that start “Nothing to Win.”

That punch, which becomes the core of “Nothing to Win” over its 11:22 run, is not to be understated. Foster‘s tom progression is indebted, almost singularly, to Neurosis‘ “Through Silver in Blood,” but the space those fills occupy, the way they’re used in the track and the sheer stamina required to pull them off make them all the more staggering. The second of Clearing the Path to Ascend‘s four pieces is the most intense, playing off building verse tension via those drums and the guitar and bass that follow them and opening to a chorus that arrives at the title line in a manner fitting the conclusion itself — there’s nothing to win. Listening to it, I’m reminded of a conversation about ambition back in 2011 that was part of an interview with Scheidt for Atma, but without a lyric sheet I wouldn’t speculate in concrete terms what’s being won, or not, and either way, the ferocity remains striking, Scheidt moving into a semi-spoken, seething delivery for the verse and layering shouts and growls for the chorus. Foster again takes the lead after halfway through, switching from the chorus progression to an even more intense run of fills that builds for a minute or so until finally the song seems to collapse under its own frustrations, Scheidt growling out a line that turns to a kind of agonized plead before its end, Rieseberg and Foster coming back in over feedback before the guitar rejoins them on the transition into the song’s last movement, a churning riff, deceptively intricate in its timing, taking hold and carrying YOB through the finish, Scheidt reminding along the way that, indeed, there’s nothing to win, channeling the abrasiveness that once fueled “Breathing from the Shallows” or “Kosmos” from The Unreal Never Lived into a concise declaration that leaves an impression even after the album has finished. Its message gets through, in other words, before a relatively quick fadeout rounds the song out and “Unmask the Spectre” (15:25) begins with a soft guitar line somewhat reminiscent of the opening track and “Marrow” still to come.

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Given its heavy/atmospheric tradeoffs — in softer parts, Scheidt‘s guitar seems to have been recorded in some terrifyingly vast expanse, at night — set out along a linear path and the melodic instrumental complexity at which it arrives in its apex guitar solo, it seems fair to think of “Unmask the Spectre” as a lead-in for “Marrow,” but at more than 15 minutes, it’s also a substantial portion of the album, and the fact that it’s paired well with the closer shouldn’t necessarily detract from its individual appeal or the work it does in furthering the atmosphere of Clearing the Path to Ascend overall, cutting back as it does the furious push of “Nothing to Win” and moving YOB back into a more gradual space, patient, encompassing, and resoundingly slow. A high-viscosity chug takes hold as the main riff cycles through early, having lumbered forth from the quieter start, and “Unmask the Spectre” seems to take a different path toward similar venting to “Nothing to Win,” growls and screams topping steady thud from Foster and starts and stops in the bass and guitar. By this point in the album, it’s easy to be lost in Clearing the Path to Ascend, particularly on the first couple listens, and “Unmask the Spectre” sets an especially turbulent course on which the listener is carried, moving between this thunderous stomp and the airy quieter movement, underscored by various rumbling threats, vague noise, and low-mixed shouts and effects-distorted pleas. A rising shout before five minutes in reintroduces the heavy progression, Scheidt losing his fucking mind in the process, and the momentum is carried into the song’s next stage. If there’s a spectre being unmasked, it starts to happen at about the sixth minute, at which the tense, crushing heft spreads itself out to some kind of resolution, Scheidt taking a cleaner approach vocally over his riff, Rieseberg‘s smoothed out bassline and Foster‘s more forward-directed drums. A wavering guitar solo follows a verse past halfway through, but there’s another dropout. As low and minimal as YOB get on Clearing the Path to Ascend, heaviness is never completely absent, Scheidt whispering over windy backing swirl and his own barely-there guitar before Foster thumps the lurch back into place, a crawling return to YOB at their most feedback-drenched and excruciating. It seems like that’s going to be the end — both preceding cuts have had clearly announced final movements — but there’s a switch to cleaner vocals again and the guitar teases melodic leads. It’s a sudden cut to the backing “wind,” but the subdued guitar accompanies, seeming like it’s searching for a way to lead directly into “Marrow,” and not quite making the switch seamless, but coming as close to tying the two pieces together as one could reasonably ask.

Before the album was recorded, the band posted an update to Facebook referring to “the most beautiful arrangement we’ve ever written.” No question “Marrow” (18:49) was the arrangement being described, and accurately. It is lush, and gorgeous, and where it wants to, it launches into a soothing wash of tone more cathartic than “Catharsis” and arguably YOB‘s most singularly ambitious song. Like “Unmask the Spectre,” it starts quiet, but instead of bursting out, Foster and Rieseberg join the quiet guitar line early, making for a more gradual beginning, less jarring in its shift. At 2:25, a fuller rumble emerges, but the soft guitar line is still repeated over it, a peaceful, almost resigned mood emanating from the heavy rollout. There are no growls or screams on “Marrow,” the vocals entirely clean-sung for the duration, but it is Clearing the Path to Ascend‘s most righteous moment, conveying more of an emotional turbulence than a musical one in its initial verse and the movement to the first chorus, which arrives subtly just after five minutes and surprises with Scheidt layering his voice for a kind of harmonized choir effect, resulting in his most soulful performance to date, in YOB or out of it. A quick second to catch breath — one needs it — and the verse is renewed. I’m not sure I can properly convey the sense of arrival that chorus brings with it, or how gently it comes on, led into by a first stage already departed from the verse but not yet giving away the full breadth to come. The effect is only enhanced the second time through, the chorus expanded as “Marrow” moves toward its 10th minute, building to a thudding head, the word “time” repeated and drawn melodically into a hymnal. At 10:33, with more than eight minutes to go, the bass and drums drop out to let the guitar set the foundation of the album’s finale. As with the intro, the guitar, bass and drums all explore this part so that it’s not so much a minimalist interlude as an essential piece of the whole, a background layer of organ — or guitar effects made to sound like organ — hinting of the epiphany and climax still to come. Scheidt sings low and quiet after 12 minutes in, a verse that leads to the most gripping and resonant guitar solo I’ve heard since Ancestors‘ “First Light,” very classic rock in its style, but speaking more to the central melody of “Marrow” than a YOB lead ever has to its respective song. It swirls louder in the mix and carries into a heavier movement — Rieseberg‘s bassline no less astounding than any of the guitar layers — and the vocals return after a few measures to drive “Marrow” further toward into apex, which arrives in multiple stages as a wash of immersive realization. It ends, without a second wasted, by cutting back to the quiet guitar line that introduced the song and noodling out the last note for a final echo giving way to silence.

I know I said this when I saw them play at Roadburn earlier this year, but it’s worth repeating: YOB are a once-in-a-generation band. It is rare enough to find an act willing to push itself at all creatively seven albums in, but to deliberately cast off any sense of playing to expectation in favor of such raw expression — it’s the kind of thing that one or two groups in a decade might actually manage to pull off. More importantly, in doing so, Clearing the Path to Ascend makes YOB‘s a more sustainable evolution by breaking down the increasingly rigid boundaries of “what YOB sounds like” and commandingly taking their songwriting to somewhere new both for them and for the genre as a whole. Nearly 15 years on from their first demo, they sound like they’re just getting started. If this album is true to its title, and YOB are clearing their path by tossing away these preconceived notions of what they are and what “doom” is, and if perhaps what comes next is ascension, then so be it. They’re obviously ready.

Recommended.

YOB, “Marrow” from Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)

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YOB Post Second Teaser for Clearing the Path to Ascend; West Coast Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

In the second video teaser to herald the album’s September release below, YOB guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt discusses the motivations at work in the songwriting for the forthcoming Neurot Recordings debut, Clearing the Path to Ascend, citing an emotional basis in the material that’s brought out more than ever before, and talking about the band as part of a general quest for the defining of self and the making of who they are. There’s a music clip in it too, but hearing Scheidt speak candidly about what he does is always fascinating (I’ve been fortunate more than once; see here and here and also here) for the thoughtfulness of his perspective, and that manages to come through in the clip, brief though it is.

Clearing the Path to Ascend is out in September on Neurot, and in addition to their European tour with Pallbearer, a handful of YOB dates for the West Coast have been announced, including the previously noted Hoverfest on Aug. 23. The PR wire has details under the video.

Enjoy:

YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend Teaser 2

YOB: Oregon Doomsmiths Post Second Clearing The Path To Ascend Video Teaser; US Tour Dates Announced

Oregon doomsmiths, YOB, will released their long-awaited full-length, the aptly titled Clearing The Path To Ascend, via Neurot Recordings this Fall. Recorded at Gung Ho Studio in Eugene, notorious for its reserve of vintage equipment, alongside longtime collaborator/iconic sound-sage Billy Barnett, and mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Beastmilk, Nails) at Audiosiege Engineering, Clearing The Path To Ascend is undoubtedly the crowning achievement for a band whose journey now nears two decades of creating music as commanding as it is cathartic. As is the YOB way, the tracks here don’t simply offer a vacuous glimpse into the already riff-soaked doom genre. These songs demand the tandem attention of mind, body, and soul – etching a mark across a sound that finds YOB as formidable and unequaled as they’ve ever been. The path to ascend is clearly an arduous one, fraught with the peril of mediocrity. Thankfully, YOB pummels that path, climbing upward into a realm that sets the band in a heavy metal place that has been and will always remain wholly their own.

As a precursor to the release, YOB is offering up a second Clearing The Path To Ascend video teaser. Produced by William F. Haldane of Solder House, the near four-minute video details the writing process, concept and emotional journey that embodies the record as a whole.

In related news, YOB will bring their otherworldly riff rituals to the stage later this month on a handful of West Coast live excursions that will include performances in Sacramento, Oakland and Seattle as well as a headlining performance at Portland’s Hoverfest alongside Witch Mountain, Lord Dying, Eight Bells and more!

The tour comes in advance of the band’s previously announced overseas trek this Fall. Slated to commence on September 3rd, 2014 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, the band will level twenty-eight cities, the tour coming to a close on October 11th, 2014 at Desertfest in Antwerp, Belgium. YOB will be joined by Little Rock doom bringers, Pallbearer.

YOB:
7/25/2014 Starlite Lounge – Sacramento, CA w/ Giant Squid, Will Haven
7/26/2014 Oakland Metro – Oakland, CA w/ Black Cobra, Augurs
8/01/2014 Space Eugene – Eugene, OR w/ Hell, Diseased Reason, Broken Dead
8/09/2014 El Corazon – Seattle, WA w/ Wounded Giant, Transient
8/23/2014 Hoverfest – Portland, OR w/ Witch Mountain, Lord Dying, many more…

UK/EU Tour 2014 w/ Pallbearer:
9/03/2014 Tivoli de helling – Utrecht, NL
9/04/2014 The Fleece – Bristol, UK
9/05/2014 Roadhouse – Manchester, UK
9/06/2014 Audio- Glasgow, UK
9/07/2014 Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK
9/08/2014 The Underworld – London, UK
9/10/2014 FZW – Dortmund, DE
9/11/2014 Vera – Groningen, NL
9/12/2014 Atlas – Aarhus, DK
9/13/2014 Truckstop Alaska – Gothenburg, SE
9/14/2014 Hostsabbat @ Betong – Oslo, NO
9/16/2014 Tavastia – Helsinki, FI
9/17/2014 Slakthuset – Stockholm, SE
9/18/2014 Loppen – Copenhagen, DK
9/19/2014 Connewitz – Leipzig, DE
9/20/2014 Firlej – Wroclaw, PL
9/21/2014 Bi Nuu – Berlin, DE
9/23/2014 Klub 007 – Prague, CZ
9/24/2014 Arena – Vienna, AT
9/25/2014 PMK – Unnsbruck, AT
9/26/2014 Gaswerk – Winterthur, CH
9/29/2014 Le Romandie – Lausanne, CH
10/02/2014 Razzmatazz3 – Barcelona, ES
10/03/2014 Villamanuela – Madrid, ES
10/04/2014 Amplifest – Porto, PT
10/05/2014 ES ESonora – Erandio, ES
10/10/2014 Kyttaro Club – Athens, GR
10/11/2014 Desertfest – Antwerp, BE

Clearing The Path To Ascend will be released on September 1st, 2014 in the UK and Europe and in the US on September 2nd, 2014 via Neurot Recordings.

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YOB Announce UK/European Tour Dates with Pallbearer

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Yes, I am well aware these dates were posted on Monday when Pallbearer announced the run. I couldn’t care less. The press release from YOB gives me an excuse to post the live video of “Nothing to Win” — you’ll note the maddening drums from Travis Foster — shot at this year’s Roadburn fest, and that’s really all I need, if the sheer fact that it’s YOB isn’t enough.

YOB‘s new album, Clearing the Path to Ascend, on which “Nothing to Win” appears, is out Sept. 2 in the US on Neurot Recordings. One whole day before they start this tour in the Netherlands. Pallbearer‘s Foundations of Burden will be out by then as well.

Info follows, fresh off the PR wire:

YOB: Doom Metal Trio Announces Mammoth UK/European Tour In Support Of Clearing The Path To Ascend

Long-running Oregon doom metal conjurors and recent Neurot signees, YOB, will embark upon a massive overseas trek this Fall. Slated to commence on September 3rd, 2014 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, the band will levy their cathartic riff rituals upon twenty-eight cities, the tour coming to a close on October 11th, 2014 at Desertfest in Antwerp, Belgium. YOB will be joined by Little Rock doom bringers, Pallbearer.

The tour coincides with the release of the trio’s long-awaiting new full-length, Clearing The Path To Ascend. Recorded at Gung Ho Studio in Eugene, notorious for its reserve of vintage equipment, alongside longtime collaborator/iconic sound-sage Billy Barnett, and mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Beastmilk, Nails) at Audiosiege Engineering, the four tracks comprising Clearing The Path To Ascend don’t simply offer a vacuous glimpse into the already riff-soaked doom genre; these songs demand the tandem attention of mind, body, and soul, etching a mark across a sound that finds YOB as formidable as they’ve ever been. True ascension requires a destruction of those barriers that prevent any movement forward. Unsurprisingly, YOB pummels any and all of these obstacles with absolute authority, clearing the way for a genuinely visceral listening experience and climbing upward into a realm that sets the band in a heavy metal place that has been and will always remain wholly their own.

YOB UK/EU Tour 2014 w/ Pallbearer:
9/03/2014 Tivoli de helling – Utrecht, NL
9/04/2014 The Fleece – Bristol, UK
9/05/2014 Roadhouse – Manchester, UK
9/06/2014 Audio- Glasgow, UK
9/07/2014 Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK
9/08/2014 The Underworld – London, UK
9/10/2014 FZW – Dortmund, DE
9/11/2014 Vera – Groningen, NL
9/12/2014 Atlas – Aarhus, DK
9/13/2014 Truckstop Alaska – Gothenburg, SE
9/14/2014 Hostsabbat @ Betong – Oslo, NO
9/16/2014 Tavastia – Helsinki, FI
9/17/2014 Slakthuset – Stockholm, SE
9/18/2014 Loppen – Copenhagen, DK
9/19/2014 Connewitz – Leipzig, DE
9/20/2014 Firlej – Wroclaw, PL
9/21/2014 Bi Nuu – Berlin, DE
9/23/2014 Klub 007 – Prague, CZ
9/24/2014 Arena – Vienna, AT
9/25/2014 PMK – Unnsbruck, AT
9/26/2014 Gaswerk – Winterthur, CH
9/29/2014 Le Romandie – Lausanne, CH
10/02/2014 Razzmatazz3 – Barcelona, ES
10/03/2014 Villamanuela – Madrid, ES
10/04/2014 Amplifest – Porto, PT
10/05/2014 ES ESonora – Erandio, ES
10/10/2014 Kyttaro Club – Athens, GR
10/11/2014 Desertfest – Antwerp, BE

Clearing The Path To Ascend will be released on September 1st, 2014 in the UK and Europe and in the US on September 2nd, 2014 via Neurot Recordings.

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YOB, “Nothing to Win” Live at Roadburn 2014

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YOB Unveil Clearing the Path to Ascend Album Details

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

YOB have set a September release date for what’s still my most anticipated album for the rest of this year despite the fact that I’ve heard it (once) front to back, Clearing the Path to Ascend. Also their Neurot Recordings debut, it’s comprised of four songs, three of which were aired live at this year’s Roadburn festival in the Netherlands. It’s been a long time since I last heard a YOB record I didn’t make my album of the year, so yeah, this is definitely one I’m looking forward to. I’m sure you are as well, so I won’t delay the info further.

From the PR wire:

YOB: Clearing The Path To Ascend Artwork + Track Listing Revealed; Record To See Release This September Via Neurot Recordings

This September, two years after leveling the expectations of critics and listeners alike with Atma, doom trio powerhouse, YOB, will unveil Clearing The Path To Ascend, an aptly titled album for what will undoubtedly be the crowning achievement for a band whose journey now nears two decades of creating music that is at once commanding and cathartic.

As is the YOB way, the four tracks comprising Clearing The Path To Ascend don’t simply offer a vacuous glimpse into the already riff-soaked doom genre; these songs demand the tandem attention of mind, body, and soul, etching a mark across a sound that finds YOB as formidable as they’ve ever been. True ascension requires a destruction of those barriers that prevent any movement forward. Unsurprisingly, YOB pummels any and all of these obstacles with absolute authority, clearing the way for a genuinely visceral listening experience and climbing upward into a realm that sets the band in a heavy metal place that has been and will always remain wholly their own.

YOB’s music is not unlike the path that’s let them to their current place among heavy metal’s elite, slowly building from a hushed ethereal vapor into the thunderous and masterful tumult of sound domination. The ethereal mists of Eugene, Oregon no doubt provided the perfect catalyst for founding member and vocalist Mike Scheidt to call up the signature of surging doom that would soon come to garner YOB its current position as one of the most respected and revered bands in all of heavy metal. While giving due sonic credit to the cornerstone influences such as Cathedral, Sleep, Electric Wizard, and Black Sabbath — YOB immediately set out to define a sound wholly singular and utterly devastating in its cathartic enormity.

Those threads of progressive rock and drone that have always underscored the music of YOB are now fully realized with Clearing The Path To Ascend. Drummer Travis Foster wields his signature rhythmic furor here with bombastic precision while bassist Aaron Rieseberg coils around the sonic tide with an unforgiving churn all the while in a deadly synchronicity with Scheidt’s uncanny vocal range and its pendulous movement between the triumphant howls of a medieval madman and the earth splitting growls of a war-battered titan.

With Clearing The Path To Ascend, YOB explores a thunderous dimension that’s familiar in its auditory clout but completely new in the execution of its trajectory, taking the band’s sound into a remarkable place as ethereally compelling in its aesthetic, as it is merciless in the magnitude of its sound.

Comments Scheidt, “Writing this album felt like being plugged into a main. Emotionally, it’s our heaviest. But it also has some real beauty and light. We dug the deepest we ever have to get to the heart of these tunes.” Behold the artwork that will adorn this work of art, and check out the track listing below:

Clearing The Path To Ascend Track Listing:
1. In Our Blood
2. Nothing To Win
3. Unmask The Spectre
4. Marrow

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YOB, New Song at Roadburn 2014

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YOB Post Video Teaser for Clearing the Path to Ascend

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This is the first audio that’s been made public from YOB‘s due-in-September seventh album and Neurot Recordings debut, Clearing the Path to Ascend, and mostly, it confirms that YOB are still YOB. The landmark Oregonian cosmic doom trio haven’t decided to become YOB Lion and do a reggae record — though no doubt they’d pull it off — and they haven’t lost the balance of weight and atmosphere that’s made their work so influential over the last decade. They’re still YOB. Good.

What it doesn’t do is show off quite how far out YOB go on Clearing the Path to Ascend. It doesn’t give a sense of the patience at work in the album or some of its expansive elements into classic rock, experiments in furthering parts of YOB‘s approach that may have always been there but have come clearer into focus. But time’s limited and for a first listen to the album and a first look at the artwork, I’ll take it.

From the PR wire:

YOB, Clearing the Path to Ascend Teaser

YOB: DOOM METAL CONJURERS REVEAL FIRST VIDEO TEASER; FORTHCOMING NEW FULL-LENGTH TO BE UNVEILED VIA NEUROT THIS AUTUMN

Long-running Oregon doom metal conjurors and recent Neurot signees, YOB, are pleased to unveil the first taste of their forthcoming new long player. Titled Clearing The Path To Ascend, the trio’s latest audio exploration was recorded at Gung Ho Studio in Eugene, notorious for its reserve of vintage equipment, alongside longtime collaborator/iconic sound-sage Billy Barnett, who mastered YOB’s Atma, The Great Cessation, The Unreal Never Lived and The Illusion Of Motion. Mastering was handled by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Beastmilk, Nails) at Audiosiege Engineering. The result is a wholly cathartic, sonicly enormous, riff-soaked sound collage of dark and light.

Comments founding vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt, “Writing this album felt like being plugged into a main. Emotionally, it’s our heaviest. But it also has some real beauty and light. We dug the deepest we ever have to get to the heart of these tunes.”

Witness the first sampling of Clearing The Path To Ascend http://youtu.be/vHhrk0w7g3I

YOB:
Mike Scheidt – vocals/guitars
Travis Foster – drums
Aaron Rieseberg – Bass

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YOB Sign to Neurot Recordings; New Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This morning brings the news that Oregonian cosmic doom forerunners YOB will issue their next full-length through Neurot Recordings. Fans will recall that Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly also appeared on YOB‘s last album, 2011’s Atma (review here), and the two bands have played shows together enough that the alliance between YOB and Neurosis‘ label certainly makes sense. Details on the record itself are slim, but YOB will be at Roadburn this year, and hopefully one of their sets will have some room for material from their forthcoming seventh album.

Hot off the PR wire:

YOB: Oregonian Doom Metal Trio Join The Neurot Recordings Family

Neurot Recordings is pleased to welcome long-running Eugene, Oregon-based doom metal trio, YOB, to their expanding household of eclectic, thought-provoking music. The band — founding vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt, drummer Travis Foster and bassist Aaron Rieseberg — will release their seventh studio offering this Fall preceded by an appearance at the illustrious Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands in April.

Comments Scheidt of the recent union, “YOB is very happy to have signed to Neurot for our new album. Travis, Aaron and I agree that Neurosis is the epitome of forward-thinking heavy music, made with zero compromise. Our love for their music is total. Neurot’s dedication to putting out uncompromising music is no different. To have this opportunity to put an album out on their label is an honor that runs deep. We cannot wait to share our new music with Neurot and our friends worldwide.”

Neurosis’ Steve Von Till notes, “This was meant to be. Neurot has always sought out to work with those who share in the purification of spirit through sound and who harvest their sound from originality and intensity. When I listen to YOB, see them leave it all on the stage, or share a conversation with them about life, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that they embody what Neurot stands for completely and we are so very honored that we get the opportunity to work together with them on their next album.”

Adds Scott Kelly, “YOB, as with all things that actually matter, there is only one. They have built their temple with a foundation concreted in absolute truth. The truth is the riffs, the truth is in the delivery, it’s in the unwavering commitment, and in the handshake and the look in their eyes. If you don’t know them, then you are fucking up your own lifes’ truth. There’s is nothing heavier on the face of this earth than this band. The Neurot Family is honored to be a part of legacy of this, the monolithic treasure of sonic achievement that is YOB.”

Further details on YOB’s forthcoming new release to be unveiled in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

YOB on Facebook
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

YOB, “Adrift in the Ocean” from Atma (2011)

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YOB’s Catharsis Vinyl Reissue Due in March on Relapse

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Who’s gonna argue with this one? Hard to imagine it was a very long meeting at Relapse when they were deciding to get behind a vinyl reissue of YOB‘s 2003 sophomore outing, Catharsis. “So, here’s one of the best albums of the last decade remastered by Tad Doyle sounding more kickass than ever. Should we get on board?” “Yes.” Meeting adjourned. Everybody goes to lunch.

Seriously, Catharsis is one of if not the most essential documents of American doom since the end of Sleep, and I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s true and anyone who tells you otherwise is simply mistaken. Profound Lore put out the CD of the Doyle remaster — you’ll also note the new artwork by Aaron Edge, completing the Lumbar triumvirate — last year, and aside from a Roadburn-exclusive gold with black splatter version (fucking kill me that’s awesome), there are a host of killer editions set to arrive in late Feb./early March.

Details via the PR wire:

YOB: Doom Metal Classic Catharsis to See Deluxe Vinyl Reissue

Relapse Records is proud to announce the re-release of YOB’s psyche-doom metal classic Catharsis on vinyl.  After being out of print on vinyl for over six years, Catharsishas been given the deluxe re-issue treatment and will be released the way it was meant to be presented.  Re-mastered from the original tapes by Tad Doyle, the reissue features stunning new artwork by Aaron Edge and brand new liner notes from Guitarist / Vocalist Mike Scheidt.

Catharsis will see it’s official vinyl re-release on March 4th in North America, March 3rd in the UK/World and February 28th in Germany/Benelux/Finland.  The vinyl includes a digital download of the full album and is being pressed on four limited color variations including gold, gold with black splatter (available exclusively at Roadburn), clear with black, bone white & gold splatter, and a special swamp green with purple & yellow splatter version that includes a blacklight poster available exclusively at Relapse.com.  Pre-orders are currently available via this location while a trailer with detailed pictures of vinyl colors is available via this location.  The full album can be streamed here.

Additionally, YOB will be headlining Roadburn Festival’s official Afterburner party on April 13th in Tilburg, NL alongside Triptykon, Avatarium, Morne, Bolzer and many others.  Details are available here.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Yob/36708497970
http://www.yobislove.com
http://www.relapse.com

YOB, Catharsis (Reissue)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Mike Scheidt of YOB

Posted in Questionnaire on December 9th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

For years, I’ve been haunted by the “Proust Questionnaire” — a series of questions that was developed by French author Marcel Proust to discern personalities more or less as a parlor game. The idea is that by comparing different answers, one can discover somebody’s attitudes not just by their answers themselves, but even how they approach the answers. Do they blow it off? Go deep? Somewhere between? What does that say about the person answering?

My hope is that over time The Obelisk Questionnaire will be able to provide fodder for such understanding. The questions will be the same — the first of them left as purposefully vague as possible — and have been dealt out to a fairly wide swath of people of various levels of prominence whose work I deeply respect. Since I want to build a backlog as quickly as possible, we’ll have a new one each day this week, and I’m pleased to be able to debut the feature with Mike Scheidt of YOB this afternoon.

Since YOB made their full-length debut in 2002, they’ve gone on to stand among America’s most pivotal acts in the heavy underground. They’ve cast a wide net of influence and even up to 2011’s Atma (review here) have crafted essential, cosmic and wide-ranging songs with a deep undercurrent of spirituality. YOB are set to begin recording a new album Jan. 17, 2014, and this year, Scheidt also debuted the crust-infused side-project Vhöl, and contributed vocals to Lumbar‘s The First and Last Days of Unwelcome (review here), helping to make that one of 2013’s heaviest and most emotionally resonant offerings.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Mike Scheidt

How did you come to do what you do?

I used to go and watch what was to become the band Dirtclodfight practice when I was 15. I was a massive music fan, but up until then I’d never known anyone who was actually in a band. After watching them jam once, I knew I had to do it too. I got my first electric guitar shortly afterward.

Describe your first musical memory.

My first musical memories are from when I was very little. My mom listened to the radio everyday, at home, in the car, everywhere we went. In the early ’70s, the radio kicked ass. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Doobie Brothers, Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, Steely Dan, Todd Rundgren,Three Dog Night, Elton John… that was “pop” music.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I have too many to name one. It would be impossible. If I had to say one, it would be the first one that I cannot remember which introduced me to music in the first place.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

The belief that people are inherently good. That I am inherently good. That belief is validated, and tested, daily.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

If we are lucky, artistic progression leads us more deeply into our Self.

How do you define success?

Anything that allows one to truly love.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I do not regret anything I have seen. Some things have been much harder than other things, but there is no turning back, no escape. To say that sounds haunting, but actually I find it comforting.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

There is quite a bit, musically and otherwise, that I would like to have the opportunity to create. Creation can be a bit of a violent affair. Struggling, fighting against all odds to make something happen. Willing it to be. I would love to be able to further foster the space within where creation is not encumbered with my shaky need to find meaning and identity in it.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I am looking forward to the time where each of my children find their calling.

YOB’s website

Lumbar on Thee Facebooks

Vhöl on Thee Facebooks

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YOB, Catharsis Reissue Coming Nov. 12 on Profound Lore

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

A classic of modern doom and inarguably one of the most pivotal albums of the decade since its release, YOB‘s second full-length, Catharsis, is set to be reissued by Profound Lore on Nov. 12. The new version of the album — complete with new art by Aaron Edge, remastering by Tad Doyle and liner notes from YOB‘s own Mike Scheidt (the three parties also collaborating in the new project Lumbar) — is sourced from the original tapes and gives those who missed it the first time around or who came aboard a chance to experience an absolute cosmic masterpiece that has become a blueprint like very little before or since.

Scheidt will also kick off a cross-country solo tour with Uzala on Oct. 13 at the Fall into Darkness festival, and you can find the dates for that along with the PR wire info on the new version of Catharsis below:

Within doom metal circles, there are good number of YOB and doom metal fans alike that consider YOB’s second full-length album “Catharsis” as the trio’s shining moment. In turn it would become one of the most cult American doom metal albums over the succeeding years where YOB would build up their reputation as one of the penultimate titans in doom metal today. The only hindrance had been that “Catharsis” had been out of print for many years and would become the band’s most sought-after item from their repertoire as the initial label that released it folded and the album was never re-pressed or made available again for wider consumption. That is until now.

Ten years after its release (though “Catharsis” was recorded in 2002, much before it was first released in Nov of 2003) Profound Lore is proud to unveil the definitive re-issue of YOB’s sought after cult classic. Re-mastered from its original tape source by legendary grunge godfather Tad Doyle, making “Catharsis” sound that much more complete and monstrous than its original incarnation, along with new artwork and presentation by Aaron Edge and liner notes by YOB mastermind Mike Scheidt, this re-issue (which is just presented with the three tracks that comprise “Catharsis” as a whole) of one of the most colossal American doom metal releases of the last ten years is a reminder of how the vision of YOB culminated and began as a singular entity to what it has become today. That being YOB’s recognition as one of the most important bands in heavy music today.

UZALA and Mike Scheidt (YOB, VHÖL)
Autumnal Wanderings US Tour 13
(dates marked with ¥ include Mount Salem, dates marked with † include Sabbath Assembly)
10/13 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios FALL INTO DARKNESS FESTIVAL with The Skull (ex-Trouble) and Hammers of Misfortune

10/14 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey with Black Queen
10/15 Boise, ID @ Visual Arts Collective UZALA RECORD RELEASE PARTY with Muscle & Marrow
10/16 SLC, UT @ Bar Deluxe with Eagle Twin and Sub Rosa (cd release show)
10/17 Denver, CO @ Three Kings with Space in Time and Munimula
10/18 Madison, WI @ WISCO with Orogen (¥)
10/19 Chicago, IL @ Township with Bongripper and DJ Stavros (¥)
10/20 Columbus, OH @ Ruby Tuesday with Before the Eyewall (¥)
10/21 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar with locals TBA (¥)
10/22 DAY OFF
10/23 Providence, RI @ Dusk with Bog of the Infidel (¥)
10/24 Worchester, MA @ venue TBA with SET and Keefshovel (¥)
10/25 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie with Heavy Temple (¥)
10/26 Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar AUTUMN SCREAMS DOOM II FESTIVAL with LOSS, SOURVEIN, Churchburn, others (¥)
10/27 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter with Druglord (¥)
10/28 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 with Caltrop (¥)
10/29 Athens, GA @ venue TBA with Demonaut (¥)
10/30 New Orleans, LA @ Siberia early show with Red Shield (¥)
10/31 Austin, TX @ Red 7 with Communion (†)
11/01 Fort Worth, TX @ The Grotto with Solomon (†)
11/02 Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves with Dead to a Dying World (†)

http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

YOB, “Ether” from Catharsis Reissue (2013)

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Buried Treasure and the Little Things We Do for Ourselves

Posted in Buried Treasure on February 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I remember when YOB‘s 2000 demo got re-released in 2009, I held off buying it. My thinking was that sooner or later the thing would show up on CD and I didn’t need to shell out for the vinyl, which, well, wasn’t a format I wanted to deal with anyway. Sure, YOB occupy a slot on my ever-rotating list of favoritist favorite bands, but what was the point in buying a copy of their demo on vinyl and feeling stupid later when I finally got it on the CD I wanted in the first place?

Well, the point turned out to be that there was no CD coming. Probably I could’ve asked someone and found that out, or done even the most cursory level of research and found out that Raven’s Eye Records, the label run by the artist Sean Schock (also of Geistus and H.C. Minds), wasn’t doing a CD pressing and that once the vinyl run was gone, that was it. That the label, like the band, was based in Eugene, Oregon, and that even in this day of interwebular immediacy, it might not be so easy to come by. But yeah, I didn’t do that research or ask anyone if a CD was coming. Hey, it was 2009. I was busy not having a job.

YOB‘s demo retreated to that place in my mind that holds the list of music I should pick up at some point. I guess half of me was still holding out hope that a compact disc release would come along sooner or later, and it just took that long for me to finally resign myself to the fact that one wasn’t, but at long last, I snagged a copy of the 12″ version on eBay late last year. It was my Xmas present to myself, a little something to get me through the cold months. Calling it a treat in such a manner didn’t really take away from the fact that I was a stubborn dumbass for not buying it in the first place, but it did give that all-too-familiar feeling of dumbassery a nicer frame than it usually gets.

The package showed up a couple weeks back. Not exactly timely for the holidays, but whatever. I was still happy to see it, except for the fact that at this point, I own two turntables and neither of them works. So yeah, after three-plus years, I decided to buy YOB‘s very first demo — three tracks, “Silence,” “Revolution” and “Dogma,” coupled with a live recording of a song called “White Doom” recorded in 2005 at CD World in Eugene, pressed up with artwork by Brian Mercer – and I don’t have a way to play it.

One of these days, I’m gonna hear this fuckin’ thing. “Revolution” is up on the YouTubes, so that’s easy enough to check out, but hearing how different it is from the version that appeared two years later on YOB‘s 2002 12th Records debut full-length, Elaborations of Carbon, does little more than tantalize and make me want to listen to the other tracks. I’m sure it’s up for download somewhere, but screw that. I’ve waited this long, I can keep on staring at the LP sleeve until one of the two turntables — which are stacked one on top of the other with posters on top, for that extra touch of class — is repaired or a third is acquired. Patience has always been one of my stronger qualities.

YOB, “Revolution” Demo

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Mike Scheidt, Stay Awake: No Matter What Comes

Posted in Reviews on July 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Much of the derisive end of the response I’ve seen to YOB frontman Mike Scheidt’s first solo outing — given the title Stay Awake and released last month via Thrill Jockey – seems to center around the simple point that, “This isn’t YOB.” This is true. One imagines that had the Eugene, Oregon, native wanted to follow-up YOB’s 2011 Atma full-length, no one would’ve argued. The quick turnaround would’ve been hailed near universally and it would’ve been a great way to continue the momentum from their run of shows opening for Tool and a way to mark their ascendancy as a touring act (new West Coast dates were just announced). Thinking about that, maybe part of the appeal of doing an album like Stay Awake for Scheidt is the purposeful defiance of that expectation, checking that forward push and not losing sight of a personal creative drive. I don’t know that to be the case, but it makes for easy conjecture. Most pivotally, what the album does is balance neo-folk intimacy with Scheidt’s own particular psychedelic lushness, and amid a slew of heavy/doom solo outings – this year alone has brought acoustic works from Nate Hall of U.S. Christmas and Scott Kelly, as well as Kelly’s three-way split with Wino and Neurosis bandmate Steve Von Till tribute to Townes Van Zandt – it’s the flourishes that work to distinguish what is by now a familiar form at its root. Couple that with Scheidt’s relative inexperience in the style – he has said on stage that he’s very new to it – and Stay Awake can’t help but be individualized, whatever aspects of others’ work it might draw on. Some Kelly influence is there, and the interplay of electric backing chords and acoustic picking that forms the musical basis of “Until the End of Everything” is something I tend always to attribute in my head to Ben Chasny’s Six Organs of Admittance or perhaps even Angels of Light, but Scheidt maintains his wavering melodic vocal delivery and puts it to use in a variety of constants on the six-track/43-minute Stay Awake, which was recorded by the venerable Tad Doyle at his Studio Witch Ape.

That it’s a genuine studio production would on paper seem to run counter to the album’s bedroom folk intimacy, but in terms of the actual sound of the record, it doesn’t. Whatever room space is added to the third cut, “In Your Light,” the solitary mood pervades, and that’s true from the gradual fade-in of opener “When Time Forgets Time,” which keeps Scheidt’s unique (though increasingly imitated) riff patterning despite the shift in context. Of all the songs on Stay Awake, the first is probably the closest he comes to YOB’s style, but he’s neither near it nor a stranger to straightforward opening tracks – see any of the last four YOB records – so don’t think I’m making a direct comparison. “When Time Forgets Time” does much to establish the overarching aesthetic, but little to set up the dynamics that play out over the course of the ensuing Stay Awake, fading out as it came as though we’ve just glimpsed a piece of a larger whole. The shift toward more radical experimentation first shows itself on “Until the End of Everything,” which dedicates the first 1:45 of its total 4:49 to a slow spoken word piece formed at least in part from the lyrics on which a breathy Scheidt reminds his listeners that “Reason has no place in this,” and “Until the end of everything/You will be loved.” The turn from the momentum of the first track might be set as an analogy for the album itself, but that spoken part also marks a misstep – not so much in concept or recording, but in execution – and it’s the moment on Stay Awake where Scheidt’s inexperience with singer-songwriter material feels most apparent. By the time his jarringly distorted electric guitar kicks in at 1:46, the words he’s saying feel forced and overperformed. The reason I say this relates to inexperience is because once the song starts and the lyrical cycle begins again, that’s not the case. “Until the End of Everything,” on which he backs himself vocally and touches on harmonies here and there, marks one of Stay Awake’s most effective arrangements and most lasting melodies. Even the feedback shortly before the four-minute mark and that fades back and forth through the last minute of the song feels purposeful and impeccably placed behind Scheidt’s soft picking. Really, it’s the pacing and, at the end, the drama in the spoken delivery that derails the beginning and forces the music to reclaim the momentum that “When Time Forgets Time” set into motion, which, thankfully, it does. (I’ll say here as well that in the two times I’ve seen Scheidt perform “Until the End of Everything” live, he’s delivered the spoken part quicker and more effectively.)

Read more »

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YOB Schedule Headlining Dates Around Tool Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 5th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

By now, you probably know that YOB were hand-picked to open for apparently-revived progressive metallers Tool — who are also supposedly going to have a new album out this year — on Tool‘s upcoming winter tour. If you hadn’t heard, no worries, the info’s here. Just a bit ago, YOB announced a string of headlining dates around the run of shows, some of which will also include a solo set from frontman Mike Scheidt, whose acoustic debut is also set to be released in 2012. Look forward to that, but in the meantime, here’s the poster with the info. Click to enlarge, as always:

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On the Radar: Rye Wolves

Posted in On the Radar on December 27th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

I have the feeling that if my geographical situation was different and I lived on the other side of the country, I probably would’ve heard Rye Wolves by now. Maybe literally, given the loudness that seems to come across on their three-song Species Battle in the Branches full-length, which was released earlier this year. The Eugene, Oregon, trio meld neo-psychedelic bombast with post-metal’s inhuman tonality, finding room in the 23-minute “Malnutrition Bends the Beak” to go all USBM for a little while. What it all rounds out to is a heady and crushing sonic mix that loses nothing in atmosphere for its heft and occasional foray into the maniacal.

Some mid-period Neurosis sway arises in eight-minute opener “Tearing at the Shapes,” but I wouldn’t put Rye Wolves in the post-metal category outright before I’d put them in three or four others, among them doom and whatever it is we’re calling angular sub-technical Mastodonic noise riffing this week. Vocals are harsh but varied, shouts and screams permeate thick tones and complex structures, highlighting an energy pulsing through Species Battle in the Branches, which is Rye Wolves‘ second release behind the less-distilled 2008 debut, Oceans of Delicate Rain.

The primary difference between the two releases seems to be that on the newer, the ideas have better blended together to create a whole, so that the beginning of “Hey David” will be rife with ethereal post-rock guitar echoing, the end will stomp to an agonizing, Khanate-esque doom conclusion, and the middle will provide flow from one to the next. “Malnutrition Bends the Beak” has enough diversity to be an EP unto itself (and some more Khanate as well; this time with tortured vocals included), but also rests well in the context surrounding, its sustained and thickened low-end rumble all the more foreboding for the pace it has divided seemingly in half.

Anyone noticing the band is from Eugene and looking for a YOB connection will find it more in the fact that Species Battle in the Branches was recorded by former bassist Isamu Sato than in Rye Wolves‘ actual sound — though their locale and their playing extended post-doom songs is bound to lead to comparisons. Rye Wolves have put the whole of Species Battle in the Branches on their Bandcamp page for streaming (they’re also on The Facebooks here), and I grabbed the player and put it here in case anyone wants to check it out. I’d recommend doing so, anyway:

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YOB to Support Tool on Upcoming Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 22nd, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

This news was kicking around the forum and Thee Facebooks yesterday, but the official release came in on the PR wire last night, so it seemed only appropriate to post it here. Congratulations to Eugene, Oregon, space doomers YOB, who just happened to release my favorite album of 2011, on landing an opening spot for Tool‘s upcoming North American dates. I’m not sure how I actually feel about it, as I hadn’t really planned on seeing Tool (ever) again but don’t think I can let a YOB gig pass unattended, but whether or not I show up, it’s well-deserved on the band’s part. No argument from me there.

Here’s the press release:

Oh, what a year it has been for the mighty doom metallers YOB! First they release one of the most highly respected albums in recent memory with Atma via Profound Lore. Now the band is happy to announce that they will be direct support to TOOL on the progressive titans’ upcoming Jan/Feb North American tour. With two behemoths such as this, fans can expect one of the most impressive tours of the year!

The following dates have been announced with more to be unveiled in the coming days.

01/28 TD Garden Boston, MA
01/29 Susquehanna Bank Center Camden, NJ
01/31 Mohegan Sun Arena Uncasville, CT
02/01 Izod Center East Rutherford, NJ
02/03 TBA
02/04 Bojangles’ Coliseum Charlotte, NC
02/06 Bank Atlantic Center Sunrise, FL
02/07 UCF Arena Orlando, FL
02/08 Gwinnett Center Arena Duluth, GA

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YOB Interview with Mike Scheidt: Breathe in the Power Held in This Moment

Posted in Features on July 20th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

This past weekend, I made my way south to Philadelphia to catch the current YOB/Dark Castle tour. I’d already seen the two bands as they stomped Manhattan into the ground earlier in the week, but the prospect of another show within a meager two hours’ drive, on a Saturday, was too much to resist. When I got to the Kung Fu Necktie and saw it was basically a small bar with a stage area in back, I was all the more thrilled at the chance to witness YOB‘s powerful live sound in such a confined space. It was gonna rule, I assured myself.

I assume because Kung Fu Necktie is in a residential neighborhood and they’ve had noise complaints, the show had an 11PM curfew. When irono-post-punkers Psychic Teens finished at 9PM or so and neither Dark Castle nor YOB were to be found in the venue, it was immediately apparent something was up. As it turned out, they’d been stuck for however long in traffic coming from their Canadian show the night before. They were rushing to get to Philly, but for the crowd standing there, we didn’t know if or when they’d arrive.

And if they’d canceled the show, saying that they wouldn’t have enough time to play and get done by the curfew, well, shit happens, that’s life. But they didn’t. YOB and Dark Castle rolled in a bit after 9:45, immediately set up their gear and got to work kicking ass. Even Rob ShafferDark Castle‘s drummer pulling double-duty filling in for Travis Foster in YOB — breaking his bass drum pedal didn’t curb the momentum. Curfew was extended till 11:30PM, YOB got to play four songs in 40 minutes, and peace and doom reigned in the City of Brotherly Love.

What was most striking about it, though — aside from the fact that they did it — was that before their set started, YOB guitarist, vocalist, principle songwriter and, on this tour, sole founding member Mike Scheidt told the crowd, “We’ve got 40 minutes and we’re going to give it everything we have. We are YOB” (or something thereabouts), before launching into the most righteous rendition of “Quantum Mystic” from 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived that I’ve ever heard. By the time they finished playing, the delay didn’t matter, the lost songs didn’t matter. There was nothing that was going to stop that crowd from loving every minute of YOB‘s performance. Damn what could have been, we were there for what was, and Scheidt, Shaffer and bassist Aaron Reiseberg kept true to his word.

YOB‘s second album for Profound Lore, called Atma, will see release Aug. 16. The record, as Scheidt explains in the interview to follow, takes its name from the spiritual concept of the self as being a part of an underlying current of selves, all joined in one essential experience. Where Western tradition has gummed this into theistic dogma, the notion of “atma” is more obscure and thus even more universal: The self as connection to everything around it. As I stood in Kung Fu Necktie and watched the crowd around me get absorbed into Atma opener “Prepare the Ground,” it was hard not to feel some understanding of what Scheidt was talking about. They were transcendentally heavy.

We spoke at the beginning of the tour, via phone, as the two bands ran errands in Iowa, and I’ll say flat out it’s the best interview I’ve done in a long time. The guitarist’s openness, honesty and genuine nature is apparent in his every answer, and his discussion late in the conversation of the nature of ambition and how it relates to YOB presents an awareness of perspective that, much like his musical approach, is entirely his own.

I won’t delay it further. Please find enclosed the 5,700-word Q&A transcription of my interview with Mike Scheidt of YOB, and enjoy.

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