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Two years after leveling the expectations of critics and listeners alike with Atma, doom trio powerhouse YOB unleashes 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 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. 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 led 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 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, incomparable to any other music being created at the time.
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, as each track forges into the next with a ferocity that’s as completely unhinged as it is utterly focused. 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.
It is 2014, and on August 19th, two years on from the release of their seminal debut LP Sorrow and Extinction, Pallbearer will unleash the most powerful and engaging chapter in their story thus far; Foundations of Burden – an auditory exploration that is sure to command even more acclaim for these Arkansas natives. Each song carries a weight of melancholic devastation that sees Pallbearer forging it’s own brilliantly desolate path through the realm of heavy metal, crafting music that seeks to balance itself at the very threshold of an unforgiving void. Produced and mixed by Billy Anderson (Sleep, etc) in Portland, OR in the late winter of this year, the album evokes a sonic consciousness of melody coiled tightly around the surge of doom metal at its most relentlessly formidable
Initially formed in 2008, by Joseph D. Rowland (bass) and Brett Campbell (vocals/guitars), Pallbearer grew from the fertile underground metal scene of Little Rock, Arkansas. A year later, joined by guitarist Devin Holt and (since departed) drummer Zach Stine, the four members quickly recorded the band’s first demo. These three tracks garnered well-deserved attention, with critics and fans taking notice of what could only be described as a wholly singular sound from the promising band.
Pallbearer’s debut full-length Sorrow and Extinction was released in early 2012. At just under fifty minutes, the album’s five tracks capitalized on the primal clout of the band’s demo, but here the songs were freed from reliance on volume as the music wavered beautifully between subdued introspection and towering aural force. Released by the well-respected Canadian underground label, Profound Lore, Sorrow and Extinction instantly made waves among listeners and critics who found Pallbearer’s compositional paradox of vulnerability and might unparalleled in a metal world replete with imitators.
Hailed by Rolling Stone as the #1 metal album of 2012, the album also received the coveted “Best New Music” stamp of approval from Pitchfork as well as being cited as one of the year’s best albums by outlets such as Spin and NPR. Sorrow and Extinction proved to be an unequivocal masterpiece in any genre of music and, most importantly, compelled Pallbearer to reach even further creatively for what would come next. 2012 would also see the addition of drummer Mark Lierly, adding further depth to the already immense and mercurial sound the band had pioneered.
Rather than settle themselves in the convenient safety of listener expectation, Pallbearer delve even deeper into melodic contexts for Foundations of Burden, with Rowland now adding his own impressive vocalizations to the sonic texture. This new vocal dynamic brings an authentically visceral component to Pallbearer’s music that, while giving credence to their metal foundations, adds a new and compelling dimension to music which has long since proved itself to be inexorably captivating.
Sunday 7th September 2014
Price: £12.00 advance (+stbf)