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Architects of modern doom - 95%

we hope you die, March 22nd, 2019

An artist most directly responsible for the modern doom boom, an artist whose development from album to album was as gradual and laboured as the music itself, and an artist that was slow to gain a following. Prolific and retrospectively celebrated at the turn of the century. But lack of recognition took its toll, with Yob breaking up in 2006 only to reform in 2009. But their early efforts were rewarded. And they are now acknowledged as trailblazers of post 2000 doom metal. Yob pursued a lighter, more spiritual calling, informed by Neurosis new-age twaddle.

Yob’s approach to stoner metal is one of collaboration with the listener. Yob’s first offering ‘Elaborations of Carbon’ (2002) was a charmingly odd take on the groovy stoner doom. Mike Scheidt’s weird falsetto vocals that he intersperses with a death metal growl make for an uncomfortable combination at times. And the snare sound is bizarrely tinny, as if it was more suited for punk music than anything below the 80 bpm mark. ‘Catharsis’ (2003), their difficult second album, works with many of the same idiosyncratic limitations. But it turned out to be a masterpiece of trippy stoner doom that has quite frankly never been bettered, and Yob’s subsequent releases have really been variations on the ideas found herein, in a noble yet ultimately futile attempt to surpass it.

So what is it about ‘Catharsis’ that makes it so damn good? The answer lies in the structure. This is stoner doom’s answer to Burzum’s ‘Hvis Lyset Tar Oss’. Rather than pandering to easy wins through Sabbath aping, the album is patiently built around a rigid structure that utilises the basic building blocks of stoner doom to a more ambitious purpose than is typical of the subgenre. Opener ‘Aeons’ begins by introducing themes through repeated riffs and shifting dynamics. It builds slowly with drum and bass grooves and gradual layering of ever thicker guitars. The piece runs through the same cycle a few times, with each reiteration introducing a new layer of music, and with each reiteration we uncover something more within the layer-cake.

Then things take a turn for the more upbeat with ‘Ether’, which sees the album elaborate on the more dramatic elements of ‘Aeons’. The finale and title track brings all this together with epic builds and crashes, until ending in chaos. Each segment of the album references another, each section is placed where it is for a reason. Metal has always been a champion of long-form composition through the LP, but ‘Catharsis’ is one of those albums that takes this to another level. It transcends the musical components it is made up of to reach for something beyond. Each riff, rhythm, bassline and vocal technique will be familiar, we know it belongs within the stoner doom style, but they are all melted into a modern symphony of sorts. A reminder that one need not be bound by the limitations of genre to create something truly profound.

I have praised both this album greatly because it pretty much deserves it. It is a reminder of what the limited style of stoner doom can be capable of. Praise where praise is due, stoner doom rarely gets good, let alone this good.

Originally published at Hate Meditations