YOB – Our Raw Heart (Relapse)Tuesday, 29th May 2018
From a near-death experience to creating what should be, for many, an Album of the Year candidate, YOB’s Mike Scheidt has probably experienced enough highs and lows to last a lifetime. A severe scare with a potentially fatal intestinal disease put the man at death’s door, but a miraculous recovery provoked a writing spurt that has led to what is easily YOB’s most convincing album to date, the lumbering, imposing, but shadowy yet bright Our Raw Heart.
Big riffs are in play here, often in long supply, giving Scheidt the opportunity to cycle through them as many times as he would like. There’s a repetitious quality (if you will) to these songs, but they become almost hypnotic as Scheidt spins proto-doom riffs with rich chords and minor melodies. YOB could have just packed it in after monolithic opener “Ablaze” — an impenetrable slab of sludge (a “sludge wall” perhaps?), but the album’s harshest blow comes via “The Screen,” a song that utilizes a basic chug-a-lug to maximum effect. Seriously, you can literally feel YOB (who are rounded out by drummer Travis Foster and bassist Aaron Rieseberg) scrape the earth’s surface with this one. That’s how deep it goes.
However, there’s a certain degree of catharsis and release found within these songs, best exemplified on the closing title track. The song’s somewhat uplifting disposition is warranted — Scheidt has every right to turn his near-tragedy into something that resembles, dare we say, hope and optimism. Striking opposites indeed. All it amounts to is an album that reeks of honesty and basks in the simple glory of writing and recording music. Don’t take it for granted. YOB clearly hasn’t, which explains why Our Raw Heart is their career highpoint.