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Yob | Catharsis | review | rock | Lollipop


Catharsis (Abstract Sounds/Candlelight)
by Brian Varney

Standing tall in a genre full of less-than-thrilling cough-syrup casualties armed with more Orange amps than brain cells, these three Portland basement-dwellers explore thrilling new chasms of the labyrinth that folks call doom metal. It's packed with enough low-end frequencies to bother deaf neighbors, the tempos move at roughly the same speed as a slug that just stumbled upon a salt lick, and songs go on for a really long time (the three that comprise Catharsis total just over 49 minutes). It's the sorta self-inflicted psychic beating that'll either thrill you or bore you to death, depending on your predisposition to such terror.

I'm obviously in the former category, or else I'd not be writing this. A lot of your reaction, as I said, comes down to predisposition: Either you get it or you don't. However, there are also differing levels of quality within the world of doom metal, as there are within any genre, and it's explaining what makes something better than something else that presents the real challenge. What makes YOB so special is the music's intrinsic warmth, both sonic and emotional. I'm not one of those folks who likes music that makes me feel uncomfortable, and YOB makes some of the most welcoming experimental music out there. Like a fluffy, warm, down comforter waiting for you on a cold February evening, YOB's music envelopes your entire being, providing a mother's welcome as it pulls you into its own alternate universe, which looks remarkably like our own except everything is very big and very slow. The best analogy for the YOB experience is sitting in a soft chair, wrapped in said comforter, watching a time-lapse film of the Earth's tectonic plates shearing apart, Pangaea split into the land masses as we know them today.

Before we part, I do also need to mention the vocals of Mike Sheidt. Vocals are traditionally the Achilles Heel of doom bands, who more often than not take the lazy route and let some moron sloppily grunt over top of everything, which is usually about as beneficial as spraying whipped cream all over your pizza. As with the other elements of their very elemental sound, YOB do the vocals right as well by employing effective and creative uses of effects to create several different vocal personas. There's a growly metal voice, and an eerie, Leslie-filtered munchkin-like voice, and they sometimes take turns, sometimes duel, as the arc of the band's orbit of the planet grows greater and more distant. It's a thing of crushing beauty.
(PO Box 707 Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462)


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