As with (nearly) all Yob albums, 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived takes its time to start, but when it does get going, it doesn’t fuck around. A nuke explodes, a guitar starts swinging a slow motion NWOBHM¹ riff around, and just like that time your idiot cousin Earl put the tractor through the barn door, the rhythm section slams in out of nowhere and off Quantum Mystic ploughs on a trail of destruction.
I first heard this song when Yob played it at the Camden Underworld in September 2014, and, going on far longer than I expected, I assumed that they were jamming it out and extending the slow gallop of that NWOBHM riff. In retrospect, I doubt that they did start doing extra laps just for fun, but this gives an idea of how long this intro feels. I say ‘feels’ rather than ‘is’, as it’s actually only two minutes, which doesn’t sound like much when compared to Ball of Molten Lead (3 minutes 40 seconds), or Revolution (5 and a half minutes), but with both of those tracks it quickly becomes apparent you’ve left Kansas and are now in Long Intro Territory, so god help you Marine. On Quantum Mystic, with the guitar panned hard to left and with stabs from the rhythm section, for a long time it feels as though the rest of the band’s about to enter at any moment and someone’s going to start singing in a falsetto about how much they love tequila, rock’n’roll and their souped–up Chevy or whatever car they were flipping into ditches during the summer of ’79.
That all said, I stand by my earlier statement that this song doesn’t fuck around; it knows what it’s doing, where it’s going, and when it picks up it’s as fast as Ether or Doom #2. When it does enter it swings a lot harder than either of these tracks, and doesn’t sound as though its needs to resolve almost continually.
So does this song, and album, mark the start of a new direction for Yob, a distinct turning point in the body of their material? No. The notable difference is that the vocals aren’t run through an EQ gate, or at least far more subtly than on their earlier recordings. The lyrics are still preoccupied with theological concerns; who is the quantum mystic? What is his message, which ‘still resounds for all time’? Sure as fuck it’s not your idiot cousin Earl. Actually, the lyrics are quite specific:
Born in India
A modest shopkeeper living in the seat of Bombay
He raised a family, a common, simple life
Until he met his master and through grace opened eternal eyes.
Quantum mysticism, as far as I have managed to figure out, is a set of beliefs in which consciousness, in the spiritual sense of the word, is related to the idea of quantum mechanics, and generally seems to be regarded as a pseudoscience. Last time I checked, quantum mechanics is/was a scientific theory that explains parallel universes and that Michael Crichton was using to write stories about time travel. Although I can’t speak for Yob’s collective belief in parallel universes and appreciation of Crichton’s fiction (Timeline is good, give it a read), given their spiritual leanings these lyrics could be understood as a willingness to understand that the world and universe exist beyond our physical means of perception;
Beyond all birth and death
The real is timeless
Open the shutter of the mind
And it will be flooded with light
Although this is not new ground for Yob to be covering – song for song, they’re one of the most explicitly philosophical bands going – this song is different in that these kinds of lyrics are matched with that marching riff. It feels more imperative than most other Yob riffs do, and whilst this juxtaposition doesn’t make the song, it certainly doesn’t hurt it, to the point of Quantum Mystic being a fan favourite and regularly appearing on their sets. Even your idiot cousin Earl likes it.
- NWOBHM = New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Check Riot’s Swords and Tequila