Review : YOB – "Atma"

YOB – Atma
Release: 2011Aug16 (US)
Label: Profound Lore
Rating: 4.5/5

Over the course of the last decade, no band has constructed a sound as meticulously unique as the mighty YOB. They have landed in the strange middle ground between Burning Witch and Electric Wizard, all while sounding absolutely nothing like either of those bands. Between Mike Scheidt’s luscious guitar work, inimitable vocal style, and down-tuning so deep it may as well be reaching up from the depths of hell, the formula here is much more than a mere formula. Each album takes on a color of its own, while maintaining a consistent audible throb which can only be identified by a single three-letter word: YOB.

Atma is a sandstorm of aggression, beauty, and a chilling lonesomeness which lies underneath each and every note. Scrupulously constructed, this album sees the band shedding the shiny production value of The Great Cessation in favor of the almost subterranean sound of earlier albums like Catharsis. However, the bluesy stoner-isms of said record are nowhere to be found here. Instead, we have what is sonically the same band that recorded The Unreal Never Lived. Oh, and did I mention that Scott Kelly of Neurosis is featured on two tracks? I would die to hear these two bands get together and put out an album à la Altar. Well, I can dream.

In many ways, YOB is tighter on Atma than ever before. A sure sign of this is track length; Atma is the only album in the band’s discography to not feature a single song longer than 17 minutes. Instead, they have managed to pare down to something more balanced. The tracks breathe deeply, but don’t yawn; each note goes in, but does not go out. Scheidt has clearly found his sweet spot. Let’s hope he doesn’t lose sight of this.

In case they weren’t already on your radar, keep your eyes fixated on YOB over the course of this decade. With over ten years under their belt already, they show no signs of slowing. To make things better, I still have yet to hear a single band in those ten years to come around and match this sound, which transcends the boundaries of metal and travels into an entirely different dimension. To young doom bands: if you’ve yet to listen to these guys, take a friggin’ hint already!

FCC OK
Try: 1, 3, 5

01. Prepare the Ground
02. Atma
03. Before We Dreamed of Two
04. Upon the Sight of the Other Shore
05. Adrift in the Ocean

~Willie Strausser

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