Thursday, September 29, 2011
Yob - Atma - Two Reviews by Two Ripplers
An album that struck our writers so hard we had to review it twice!
I’m glad the new Yob album is finally out so I can go on a doom metal diet. There’s a lot of good doom out there but Yob blows just about everybody else out of the water. Their power, originality and ungodly heaviness is something to behold. Yob’s popularity has greatly increased the past few years and even the New York Times has raved about the band. When they came to NYC in July a lot of curiosity seekers got their doors blown off by their pure molten metal. It was obvious some of these people had never seen a real metal band that plays loud and headbangs through the whole show. That’s probably the thing I admire most about Yob. They have a lot of experimentation and diverse set of influences in their music but everything they do is METAL. These aren’t dudes who grew up on indie rock and heard Black Sabbath for the first time in college. These are true followers of the One Commandment – intense metal is all that you need.
Atma picks up where 2009’s The Great Cessation left off and climps higher on the scale of hardness. Yob songs are long and the new album is no exception. Skull crushing opener “Prepare The Ground” pounds for a full 3 minutes before guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt starts screaming his mystical lyrics. Mike’s vocals are a turn off for some people but I love his voice. At times he reminds me of the clean metal singing of David Wayne from Metal Church and other times of the harsh grunts of Blaine Cook of The Accused. Either way his vocals are impressive and the way he can switch between styles reminds me of the almighty Jim Dandy of Black Oak Arkansas. Mike’s guitar playing is also great. Ultra heavy and downtuned yet you can still hear the notes in the riffs. Bassist Aaron Rieseberg pummels a Gibson Thunderbird bass and it’s pure filth but stays in the pocket with Travis Foster’s drums. Heavy! And how the hell do these guys remember all the parts for these long-ass songs?
The title track has a strong Black Sabbath influence, right down to the rain and tolling bells of the intro. When the riff kicks in, it’s a long slow ride that brings to mind Black Flag’s water torture experiments on side two of My War. “Before We Dreamed Of Two” is a 16 minute mind fuck of psychedelic guitar, trippy samples and guest vocals from Scott Kelly of Neurosis. This is what happens when you listen to Animals by Pink Floyd after a ride on the mescalator at a Slayer show on the Hell Awaits tour. Weird but still totally metal. “Upon The Sight Of The Other Shore” must be the single since it’s only 7 minutes. The album wraps up with the 13 minute “Adrift In The Ocean.” The first third of the song is pretty quiet with some definitely David Gilmour influenced guitar playing before the band kicks in with a heavy groove.
Atma is not for the faint of heart but repeated listens can pay long term dividends. Definitely one to play loud as you drop out of life with bong in hand.
Okay, so, not as "metal" as previous effort Great Cessation--more hippy, more earthy, tuned up from A to B-- but just as cool.
Warm, ritualistic, definitely-spiritual somehow, maybe religious-in-the-formal-sense, while at the same time being friendly, accessible, again, hippy-ish in its lack of hostility and openness to the listener.
Opens with the simple B riff of "Prepare the Ground" with its blend of tribal-funky and crushing. (No easy feat, that.)
Mike Scheidt and his Geddy Lee-ish high-end vocals welcome you, though direly, after one minute of rain and distant church bells at the beginning of the title track, and about halfway through it revolves around a triplet-on-the-low-string riff, the rhythm section lurching in and out, a voiceover popping up now and again.
"Before We Dreamed Of Two," with its chant-like backup vocals at around 4:00, reminds me of every Zen retreat I've even been to-- and is also metal as fuck.
Scheidt and his voice reiterate the great juxtaposition here: the vocals are the venom in the syrup, the arsenic in the punch-- they're raspy, often rageful and somewhat black metal-ish, and they contrast well with the slow, reverent riffs from which Atma is built.
How does it compare to older releases? It's more immediate. Whereas the beginning of The Great Cessation, when that first low A chord bottoms out and just fucking resounds like a heartstring from the House of Usher, was a mighty, distant, massive Heraldic Summoning by the Gods (seriously-- when you meet your God, if it doesn't sound like that, change religions), Atma is a much subtler, more organic kind of mighty, like the old hippy playing his low tuned lapsteel guitar on the street corner, who gives you the impression he's the embodiment of some Very Old Wisdom, and is only toying with you by being in the human form in the first place.
Atma is just as powerful as its predecessor, but much more "after-hours jam session at a tiny bar" versus Cessation's Roar From The Temples.
Frankly, I would've been just as satisfied with Cessation II-- but this is an awesome surprise and riff on/evolution of that classic Yob sound. Definitely top 5 of the year.