Doom encourages insight. As mentioned in Revolution, it is the metallic subgenre best suited to and most closely aligned with the concept of enlightenment. Most of Yob’s music digs deep and soul–searches, but it is in their clean, sombre material, such as Catharsis, Marrow or the first half of The Mental Tyrant, with the grace and flow of that mournful, descending C5/Bb5/Ab5 chord progression, complete with flanger and volume swells, where this sentiment really rings true.
With this introspection, it takes three and a half minutes for the intro to evolve into a distorted form, then another couple of minutes to evolve – or rather, to degenerate – again, the chord progression breaking down into ugly sludge. All in all it takes 10 minutes for the vocals to enter, the longest for any of Yob’s song. This ‘degeneration’ makes me wonder who or what the titular mental tyrant is. The lyrics, containing the lines ‘Vast fear/Disguised as wisdom’ and ‘Constant desire for virtue, the higher/Achieve the right to judge our brethren with a smile’, refer repeatedly to hierarchies. They could be about Yob’s lyrical bête noire of organised religion, but remain equivocal enough to be open to interpretation. In particular, Scheidt has stated that he has suffered from depression¹,²,³ and whilst it’s easy to write meanings into songs that the author did not mean, I did wonder if the title of this song was a reference to mental health. Given this lyrical ambiguity, whilst very much not a certainty, it’s possible, which is one of the strengths of this song; digging deep and soul searching.
Talking of strengths, I also like how after nearly nineteen minutes of riffing Yob have the imagination to put throat chanting and drums that sound like they were recorded in a canyon to tape, and then have the audacity to end for a couple of seconds before a chugging re–entry.
Closing notes on The Unreal Never Lived : this album was released on Metal Blade in 2004, just as the New Wave of American Heavy Metal was on the ascendancy. Stablemates/sparring partners included As I Lay Dying, Immolation and Unearth. While not exactly doom’s heyday (has doom ever had a heyday? Can doom have a heyday? Do the words doom and heyday go together? Does heyday go with anything?), I can imagine Yob thinking that they had ‘made it’ to some extent – after all, Metal Blade is a major label, founded by early Metallica–promoter/discoverer Brian Slagel and the one–time home of Slayer. Furthermore, although Yob’s story is an ongoing one (they recently announced the completion of recording for their eighth album), this album is considered to be Yob’s best by many. How about that – critical and commercial acclaim. Then when it came to touring to support the album in 2005, bass guitarist Isamu Sato and drummer Travis Foster quit Yob. In January 2006 Scheidt announced via press release that Yob was calling it a day. As such this was to be Yob’s last album before a two year disbandment – their own great cessation.