"Clearing The Path To Ascend"

By Dr. Abner Mality

YOB have been at the forefront of creating a new kind of heaviness. Something massive and weighty that isn't chained by the cliches of death, war and chaos like most extreme metal is. "Clearing The Path To Ascend" is their most spiritually "heavy" record yet.

Better pack a lunch if you seek enlightenment with YOB. Here we have four songs, only one of which comes in at under ten minutes. You can't rush nirvana. Each of the songs takes precisely as long as necessary to achieve its goal. If you are familiar with the YOB technique of slow-building, steady crush mixed with expansive atmosphere, nothing here will surprise you. The album is not quite as pounding or brutal as the previous "Atma" but shares much of that great album's DNA. There is more space for tranquil introspection and "Clearing The Path..." contains some of YOB's most restrained moments. But those always give way to the rumble of shifting tectonic plates...doom so massive it blocks out the sun. "In Our Blood" demonstrates this approach to a T. The following "Nothing To Win" is more ominous feeling and is full of nervous tension all the way through. It's also the shortest track. "Unmask The Spectre" again mixes both quiet and heavy, but has a darker feeling overall. Mike Scheidt is surely the master of shifting vocal styles, with gut-wrenching bellows, nasal whines and plantive clean vocals all adding some needed variety to the epic tunes.

This album tells a story, the story of a journey. "Nothing To Win" and "Unmask The Spectre" are the dark parts of that journey. The final 18 minute plus monolith of "Marrow" is the light at the end of the tunnel. This is crushing doom with hope, featuring a melody that is haunting and positive even when at its heaviest. The mellower moments are entrancing, the heavier moments transcendental. You have moved past the stormclouds into the calm that fofllows.

Metal as a spiritual journey...YOB are surely its masters.