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YOB - "Clearing The Path To Ascend" (CD)

YOB - "Clearing The Path To Ascend" CD cover image

"Clearing The Path To Ascend" track listing:

1. In Our Blood
2. Nothing To Win
3. Unmask The Spectre
4. Marrow

Reviewed by on September 8, 2014

"While mastermind Mike Scheidt didn't lose sight of the churning paces and granular guitar tones of his last effort, 'Clearing the Path' is much grander in scope and progressive in approach."

Three years have passed since the release of Yob's pit of gigantic riffs known as "Atma." Those riffs were cause for journalistic raving to the extent that the album ended up on many top-end lists. So it goes without saying that the band has a lot to live up to with follow up, "Clearing the Path to Ascend." While mastermind Mike Scheidt didn't lose sight of the churning paces and granular guitar tones of his last effort, "Clearing the Path" is much grander in scope and progressive in approach.

Yob's latest recording shows the band switching record labels from Profound Lore to Neurot Records, a label owned and operated by members of Neurosis. I can't say whether the switch made an impact on the sound or not, but what I do know is the Neurosis influence is much more observable here. The yelled, caveman vocals that drew Neurosis comparisons are still here, but the post-metal style can be pointed to throughout the album, mostly during softer chord segments. Top strings and whispered vocals lightly push along the first couple of minutes of "Unmask the Specter." Once the quiet is shattered, the band brings in some massive riffs.

Just like the last recording, "Clearing the Path..." follows certain themes. One of these themes is the soft-to-hard dynamic. Another theme is Scheidt's voice. While he sometimes whispers, the bulk of his vocals are either done in the gruff, caveman (Neurosis) style or his weird, wavering voice that draws some comparisons to Sleep. The later comes during ringing, spiritual passages such as those found on "Marrow." Although Yob falls into the doom metal category, often a dark, melancholy form of music, this track seems to be a hopeful meditation--a spiritual ascension akin to the album cover showing the sun climbing into the dark night. Touches of solos and harmonized vocals make this my favorite track on the album.

"Marrow" and the preceding track ”Unmask the Spectre" mark the second half of the album, a more progressive side to the album. While opener "In Our Blood" follows the quiet-to-loud theme found through the album, its chords ring more in a doom metal fashion than the post metal outing found on the final two tracks. Second song "Nothing to Win" shows the band at its fastest and most aggressive. There is a heavy use of tom drums that especially work well with the caveman vocals. It's faster than the typical doom song, but the chord progressions reveal a dark theme often heard in doom metal. For these reasons, this is the song that stands out the most of the album.

Like the last Yob album, "Clearing the Path to Ascend" takes a few listens to fully absorb and appreciate because its songs are long - four tracks at over an hour - and each song seems repetitive. It's easy to zone out and relegate it to background noise. Hearing one or two tracks per listen may keep this from happening. Closer listens will reveal all the subtleties, as well. The fullness of the production and its dynamics and transcendent qualities make it one of the top doom metal records of the year.

Highs: From transcendent voices and soft chords to massively loud chords, the album shows exceptional mood changes.

Lows: The four tracks that comprise this hour-long opus can be hard to get through.

Bottom line: Sure to be one of the top doom metal albums of the year.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)