Yob Song by Song: All the Children Forgotten

Sounds of The Rainforest Doom

I’ve come to think of All the Children Forgotten as Sounds of the Rainforest done right. The closing soundscape of Universe Throb re–enters as trickling water, gently wavering feedback and rumbling thunder, and for a minute and a half a guitar fattened on wah stabs, flares and flicks, before Scheidt begins, in Geddy Lee delivery;

I see the beauty in life…

(–”What is this hippie shi–”)

BUT I DON’T SEE THE DOGMA!

(“–oh fuck run!”)

The contrast between the two vocal styles comes clubbing in, and although there are other roaring doommongers who can switch styles out there, few do this with such dexterity (Mikael Åkerfeldt is another who springs to mind, although I’m not sure Opeth have ever been a doom band) and in such a distinctive style. The range of Scheidt’s pipes are brought to the fore by the space in the instrumentation, although I did occasionally wonder if this track, as well as a few others, might sound better without the clean vocals being run through such heavy EQ filtering.

Keeping tabs on the song structure of All The Children Forgotten is not straightforward; like many Yob songs, it is long and dense, and much like the trickles of rain through the leaves, the character of this song is that it meanders along, with a bpm of 96 in 6/8 time, even as the roars of ‘I see the beauty in life/BUT I DON’T SEE THE DOGMA!’ (or is it ‘DHARMA’?) (or maybe ‘I DON’T SEE THAT DAWG MA’?) form the closest thing this song has to a chorus. Bass guitarist Isamu Sato and drummer Gabe Morley work hard and well to keep it tight, and there’s a great interlude when the vocals whisper from behind flanged guitars, and you can feel yourself mentally leaning in to make out the words (I could make out ‘generation’ and ‘wake up’). In a genre in which the most common criticism is the (supposedly) indistinguishable nature of many of its acts, it is unconventional touches like these that make Yob special.

Yob Song By Song: Universe Throb

EOC inside sleeve

Three figures in habits sit in a circle, a lit candle apiece, facing each other as they levitate upon a floating rock, into which YOB is carved in electric blue. Molten fissures and waves of energy crackle in the background. Various flavours of feedback hum and oscillate for a minute and a half, and then the first riff lurches in. It’s minor. It’s slow. It’s distorted. As first ever songs go (ignoring Yob’s three song demo released in 2000, which I will come back to), Universe Throb is solid, it’s promising, but it’s not spectacular. At 10 and a half minutes long, it is straightforward doom in that the guitar ploughs forward slow and steady and the drums make good use of the space afforded by these slow tempos. Of course, few bands anticipate having all of their songs dissected (Yob are too cool for cease and desist orders, right?). There are a few distinctive touches; vocalist Mike Scheidt’s gurgled Ozzy and Geddy adoption, run through an EQ gate and mild chorus, turns into adaptation with his six second roar at 4.55, showing an unexpected set of lungs. Scheidt also clearly loves his wah pedal. The outro starts with a big, dragging change of pace, bridging into a sonic landscape of scrapes, echoes, shivers, thrums and oscillations, ratcheting and melding, the sound of the universe throbbing. Hints of greater things to come.

 

Yob: Song by Song

YOB_logo_web

The best bits of writing I’ve ever read about music are Invisible Oranges’ series on Metallica’s first four albums. Cosmo Lee went through every song in chronological order and wrote a piece upon each in a deeply perceptive manner, balancing technical analysis with assessments of mood and context. Whilst re–reading these pieces recently, I went through the comments sections (Invisible Oranges was one of the few sites where you could do this without scrolling back up despairing for the human race) and found some thought–provoking comments discussing which other bands had the potential to warrant the same treatment. Slayer was mentioned. Death was mentioned. Black Sabbath. Iron Maiden. Bolt Thrower. Emperor. Celtic Frost. Darkthrone. Portal. Isis (no, not ISIS). Yob.

The application of this idea to quite a few of these bands appealed to me, initially; I like Slayer, but I certainly can’t tell every song apart. I think Isis may be worthy of such a treatment, but I’ve only heard Oceanic, so they’ll have to wait. Having only heard Individual Thought Patterns and Sound of Perseverance, this is also the case with Death. I thought Gojira could be added to that list, but I’ve already written a lengthy piece on them (here) and it’s too early in the night to start repeating myself yet. But Yob…Yob, the new age proclaimers of doom, the quiet iconoclasts. There’s no other band quite like them, and I’m confident that each song of theirs warrants a piece in its own right; there’s a lot going on and a lot to dig into.

Still, a piece on every Yob song is a lot of column inches. That’s 31 songs across seven albums, consisting of six hours and seven minutes of music, and, taking into account a two year hiatus, 14 years’ worth of material. But, as mentioned, they’re a band of considerable depth, so I think a piece on each song could be both enjoyable and educational, two words we are all normally and rightly suspicious of when in the same sentence (‘you don’t fool me, Teach’). Whilst I am dubious about anyone ever saying that these pieces are the best bits of writing upon music of all time, I do think I have some perceptive thoughts to share upon Yob. Up first: Universe Throb.