YOB is love.
They’re also one big walking contradiction. How else can you describe a band that can write ten-minute doom epics about their frontman’s life-threatening medical crisis and somehow make them feel uplifting? Hell, how can you make a genre literally named after a feeling of encroaching dread and make it uplifting at all? But YOB have done it. Rising from the clutches of a nearly fatal disease, Mike Scheidt and Co. have delivered another masterpiece, surpassing 2014’s Clearing The Path To Ascend in terms of scale and sheer musical vision.
Our Raw Heart is not all sunshine and rainbows, however. The nasty opening moments of second track “The Screen” had me tossing my headphones away, unnerved by the feeling that something was creeping up behind me. Mike Scheidt’s doomsday howl still rings out over “In Reverie” and “Lungs Reach” and his riffs have lost none of their titanic weight.
But it’s on “Ablaze” and “Beauty in Fallen Leaves,” when YOB find their tender heart, that the full meaning of the album is revealed. You can almost hear the layers falling off the old rocker’s hard, cracked shell, revealing a softness that’s never been shown before. It’s amazing how much of a difference a key change can make, but it turns “Original Face” from what would have been a bleak hellscape into a psychedelic journey. It’s a new step for YOB. Impressive, for a band that seemed resolutely set for their two-decade-long career.
Time heals all wounds, and it’s obviously healed YOB’s. The scars remain, however. Our Raw Heart feels like tracing a scar, remembering old hurts and growing from them. This might sound gag-inducingly pretentious, but you think weird things while listening to several ten-minute songs in a row. It’s a testament to YOB’s abilities that they can keep your attention drawn for this long, while other bands who have tried similar things cannot. They’re at the top of their game now, probably the only doom band that could rival Sleep for the throne. Run, don’t walk, to Our Raw Heart. You might hear something you’ve never heard before…
Written by Max Morin
*edited by Kate Erickson