|Yob - The Unreal Never Lived - Metal Blade Records 2005
Running Time: 51:49
2004's The Illusion Of Motion again reaffirmed my "Third Album Theory" by presenting the most complete musical portrait of Yob to date. Always a band for musical exploration, Yob delved farther into the sounds of underground death metal that had peppered their past two albums, which spread a cloud of musical ash and black smoke over their doom, leaving the listener weary when emerging from the other side.
Well, if The Illusion... left you tired, a listen to Yob's newest, The Unreal Never Lived, will find you at the end positively exhausted and struggling to the stereo to press Play again. The distant drone that begins opener 'Quantum Mystic' is suddenly cut through with two chords, which morph quickly into Yob in all their fuzzed-out glory. The galloping pace soon falls in on itself, returning to the beginning theme, and here we go again, from the top. It takes just over four minutes for Mike Scheidt's tenor howl to enter the picture, but his "bastard son of Wino" vocal tones soon develop a snarl and growl much more in keeping with the man's beloved death metal than traditional doom. Angular leads slash their way through the rhythm section's dense fog, and when Scheidt delivers the lyrics from which the album title comes, "The unreal never lived, and the real does not ever die.", you know he's (in a very real way) pouring out his soul. 'Grasping Air' takes a page from the book of Isis, Yob constructing literal towers of sound and musically starting at the bottom, climbing slowly, steadily to the top, hauling pyramid-sized riffs all the way. To those as yet unfamiliar with Yob, and ready to write them off as your typical "forlorn I weep beside your grave" doom band, it must be stated here that one would be hard-pressed to find a more wholly positive lyrical slant than those engraved upon this bedrock of doom by Mr. Scheidt. It's hard to be depressed when a lyrical sampling of 'Grasping Air' unearths "Each moment a brand new day, each life is all, don't believe your eyes". That's really, in the end, what Yob is about to me. They're as much a study in darkness and light, in trial and triumph as any philosopher you could name, and the music follows that lyrical quest, searching out and hammering through the existing parameters of not only doom, but metal as a whole, and becoming reborn as less music and more pure emotion. Catharsis and the cosmos. Speaking of, 'Cosmos' finds Yob pounding away at the boulder of traditional doom with not only the hammer of death metal but the smaller chisel and handaxes of Tool-esque progression and discord ala Botch's early material. By this time, most bands would've shown a little mercy to the listener and just ended things politely at the half-hour mark. Not Yob, though. We still have the twenty-minute-plus 'The Mental Tyrant' to make it through breathing. Fluid leadwork turns to oceanic waves of churning riffs and rhythms, Travis Foster cementing his place as one of the most versatile drummers in metal, being able to pound away one moment, then shift to feather-light accents the next. Soon, all falls, except for the hairy, exploratory riffs of Scheidt, which are joined by the redwood-thick bass - and vocals, actually, this time - of Isamu Sato. Again, Yob shows their desire for music's true advancement beyond the barriers by not using ethereal female vocals, as doom bands are often wont to do. Sato's vocal bellows blend well with Scheidt's higher range, creating a whole new way to view this creature called Yob. Sixteen minutes into 'The Mental Tyrant', pulverizing death bashes its way through the wall of doom, joined momentarily by droning intonations and spaced-out (literally) drum attacks of which Neurosis would be proud, ending the album nowhere near where it started, but in an entirely different galaxy of sound. It takes Tool 5 years to release albums this crushingly heavy.
And thus, with The Unreal Never Lived, Yob once again shatter the image of conventional doom. I'm at a loss for words on this one. Just go buy the damned thing, listen to it on a good stereo system, then when it's done, press Play and do it all over again. I dare you.