YOB – Clearing The Path To Ascend (Neurot)Tuesday, 26th August 2014
The cover says a lot about Clearing The Path To Ascend and the moods it showcases within, many grey moods, each one featuring a different challenge and the end, of course, sending the listener off into a sonic nirvana/abyss (your results may vary). Across its four long and slow-burning tracks there exists a different flavor of doom, largely unlike most other bands but built upon the YOB standard, as there is a distinct lack of aggression here for the majority, perhaps fitting with a more spiritually-inclined theme, and in its place a greater emphasis on moody and at times even bright displays. It doesn’t eclipse 2009’s phenomenal The Great Cessation but the filthy/thin production from 2011’s Atma is lovingly absent.
Time to wake up, so begins 17-minute opener “In Our Blood” and with it, an immediate introduction to the thematic air of Clearing The Path To Ascend. Melodies work their way in sooner amidst the crashing waves of reverb and mainman Mike Scheidt, both here and throughout the album, makes significantly more use of his kinda-nasally cleans. Obese undulations carry the listener from tide to tide as the lengthy piece covers its many widespread facets and with a build of screams and feedback, the song spirals out into the abyss. Thematically follow-up “Nothing To Win” serves as both the shortest work here (still over 11 minutes) and the most aggressive piece, on the drums throughout but in colossal fashion as riffery overtakes the last third of the song.
To dive into the other two, “Unmask the Spectre” or outstanding 19 minute closer “Marrow” would be to sell the album short of surprises given that there are only four tracks here to dive into. YOB has been an established force for some time, especially in the post-Cessation world. It’s music that takes time and discipline to reap rewards from and for those willing to make the journey, a kind of ascension does indeed await you in these halls. YOB continues to clear its own path, privy to but largely distant from everyone else in the scene, a more contemplative and reflective kind of doom. Emotional in a much more refined, esoteric way. It is glorious.