Yob Song by Song: Ether

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Ether. Def. /’eeth[e]/ noun | an inflammable liquid that vaporizes readily, used esp as a solvent and formerly as a general anaesthetic: formula C[2]H[5]0C[2]H[5] b any of various organic compounds characterised by an oxygen atom attached to two alkyl groups. 2 literary the clear blue sky or upper regions of the atmosphere. 3 a medium formerly held to permeate all space and transmit electromagnetic waves >> etheric /ee’therik/adj. [Middle English via Latin from Greek aithēr, from aithen to ignite, blaze] [1].

For a song that shares a title with the etymological root of ‘ethereal’, and following the slow roll of AeonsEther is unexpectedly quick, straight out of the gate with a choppy riff at 128bpm and a gruff ‘Yeah!’ Half a minute later it transitions into a mid–paced verse with four snare hits per bar, one on each crotchet at 80bpm. Although – or maybe because – this is one of Yob’s faster songs, these verses feel laboured. Gabe Morley’s usually well–paced drumming begins to drag, the snare plodding along with each downstroke. So the guitar break after the second chorus, heavy on the wah and flanger, and as much funk as anything else, is an unexpected and very cool move; I can take or leave the awkward mid–paced verses, but this break makes the song for me. It leads into a variation of the same riff, but the alteration in phrasing, drum beat and effects makes it a clever, seamless and not particularly obvious continuation.

Suitably, given this unexpected pairing, the opening line is ‘Inside two worlds explode’, although it’s unlikely Scheidt is referring to the merging of funk and metal. Instead, lyrically, things we experience individually – hate, ecstasy, pain – collide with forces of nature – glaciers, the planet, the sun. I couldn’t decide whether the narrator was on earth, crushed by an apocalyptic setting into a frozen life (‘Enthralled with ice and snow/Glacial rivers of compressed hate’) or voyaging through space, too far gone to even be able to see our sun;

Awake in ageless time
No place to call home
Searching the expanse for a sign
Never will i see the sun again

In this, two recurring, key themes of Yob are presented; oppressive weight and an expansive psyche. This is an interesting pairing, given the contrasting nature of the two concepts, but by no measure is it unique to Yob; doom metal has been asking philosophical questions since Ozzy asked who that figure in black was. Yob differentiate themselves in that most doom bands tend to be forever falling, drawn into the darkness; Yob also remember to look upwards, permeating all of space.

 

[1] Penguin Complete English Dictionary.

 

Live Review: Damnation Festival 2016

Damnation Festival wasn’t an event I was aware of until Hang The Bastard announced they would be on the 2016 lineup playing their last ever gig. The rest of the lineup, consisting of 26 other bands across four stages, looked good, but Hang The Bastard were the act we bought tickets and drove 200 miles for. After the fun drive up to Leeds and joining the swarm of battle jackets outside the venue at the student union we caught Svalbard on the Terrorizer stage, whose cold, tremolo–picked post–hardcore was a good angry start.


After Hang The Bastard’s set at Holy Roar X in May a band member told me that they would be playing another gig with both vocalists performing. As they took to the Jägermiester stage black metal shrieker Tomas Hubbard was sighted but not original vocalist Chris Barling, hardcore yeller extraordinaire. I don’t like to say it, but their set turned into mush and ultimately fell flat. I stand by my earlier sentiment that Barling was the better vocalist for them, and was glad to have seen them as such at Holy Roar X.


After a blast of death metal from Venom Prison on the Terrorizer stage everyone and their grindcore sideproject shuffled into the basement to the Mine stage for Employed To Serve, who played a set that was a magic triangle of mental, caustic and catchy.


Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas put on an intense and immersive performance of Mariner on the Jägermeister stage, accompanied a great light show.


Although Black Tusk’s sound on the Eyesore Merch stage was a bit too reverb–heavy, much the same as their sound at their set at The Boston Music Room on Thursday 3/11, their energetic performance of high–energy songs was great and I really enjoyed their set of motorbike anthems.


I’m generally not a big fan of black metal – I generally prefer bands who mix it up with something else (Alcest, Deafheaven, Kvelertak, Wolfmangler) – so I found Abbath, on the Jägermiester stage, wholly unremarkable. My friends said that it was a pretty sloppy performance. I couldn’t tell. I don’t care. Back to the Terrorizer stage, and Enslaved, on the other hand, was a rewarding mix of black metal and prog.


I missed Ingested, but I did manage to get a guest review from a super enthusiastic hesher in the line heading out of the Mine stage:

MDFF: Did Ingested just play?

Hesher: Ingested were awesome, absolutely brilliant, I have no musical talent but you can just tell how good they are as musicians.

MDFF: …I’m sure you do, y’know, everyone has a talent –

Hesher:  – No, no, I have no musical talent, I work in I.T, but Ingested were awesome.

Needless to say, he was very happy and super enthusiastic. I took him for his word.

Back up all the stairs to the Jägermeister stage to catch Electric Wizard. They only played around three songs, but these were the best three songs of the day. It was deep, barrelling, hazy and hypnotic doom, and I would have gladly listened to another set of it, and then another.

Despite the band I bought the ticket being a bit of a let down, it was more than made up, particularly by Electric Wizard, Cult for Luna and Black Tusk. A good day of damnation.