Song By Song: Age Eternal

In chapter nine of Wuthering Heights Heathcliff loses his shit and skips town for three years. Eventually he reappears in God’s Own Country¹ to chew gum and kick ass, without Emily Brontë ever specifying where he went on his gap yahs. This is an important bit of character formation, but nevertheless, I much prefer it in Batman Begins when Bruce Wayne drops off the face of the earth and the film shows him learning martial arts in Bhutan, or in The Two Towers when Gandalf brawled it out with The Human Torch for one hundred and fifty–two rounds, or how The Count of Monte Cristo includes eight years of Edmond Dantès learning card tricks, weightlifting and how to hotwire cars.

Point being, what happened when Yob called it a day in 2006? Did the former members of Yob save Gotham City? Save Middle Earth? Dig their way out of prison islands? Chew gum, kick ass and become the anti–hero of a lengthy Victorian tragedy/romance/gothic novel which students of English Literature shall forever continue to endure? Travis Foster and Isamu Sato may well have done any of these things for all that anyone seems to know about them during this period. On the other hand, in either late 2005 or early 2006, Mike Scheidt formed a generally–forgotten band called Middian with Will Lindsay of Indian and A Storm of Light and Scott Headrick, bassist and drummer respectively.

Going by their own description, Middian were ‘very much in the vein of YOB, but more angry and mid–paced on average, but still with roots in slow doom and the cosmic vibe that was a part of YOB’². As such, before listening to their sole album Age Eternal, I was expecting it to be a mid–paced trudge and and a poor man’s Yob, forgotten because it was forgettable. As it turns out, I am a poor man’s critic, and Age Eternal is actually rather good.

Doom only in part, it has a different feel to any Yob album. It contains the aforementioned aggression, with opening track Dreamless Eyes coming in fast with punk discordance and the vocals entering with a head–splitter of a scream from Scheidt. It is a diverse listen, with a big slow down of pace five minutes in, and throughout the album the riffs move around a lot more than Yob’s typically do. The teak–thick ending of Dreamless Eyes gives way to the echoing, glassy guitar of second track The Blood of Icarus, just before the rest of the band enter with the sort of riff that makes it hard to move from the floor. The eponymous Age Eternal is light and fluttering where The Celebrant is aggressive, and closing track Sink To The Centre spends a while with a guitar tolling like a bell, but none of that merry shit, more like when Ice–T sampled Black Sabbath and rapped about being in the wrong fuckin’ part of town. This track is more Yob–like, slower and weirder to digest than the other tracks, eventually freaking out into a big psychedelic outro.

Scheidt with short hair. Weird.

Repeated and spaced–out listens (referring to the passage of time, rather than mental state) impressed upon me how good this band really was. It is unmistakably Scheidt playing, but Middian were very much their own band. After this one album, Middian would end under unfavourable circumstances. Unfavourable, rather than unfortunate, as they were effectively sued into paralysis by another band going by the name of Midian, based on the other side of the U.S. in Wisconsin, who issued a cease and desist order in October 2007. Only Middian’s (two d’s) side of the story is readily available, but it looks like Midian (one d) weren’t happy with Middian’s (two d’s) attempts to placate them, and the situation escalated into a federal law suit, which ended with Middian (two d’s) not being allowed (two l’s) to sell their album, being dropped from Metal Blade Records, and disbanding in December 2007.

Having done a bit of research, Midian of one d did not make good on all that litigation by giving the world some decent music. However, as Buddha probably once said, the silver lining to this cloud of shite is that the death of Middian would lead to to the second coming of Yob. As Middian wound up, Scheidt was approached by Foster, fresh from saving Gotham City, about playing a Yob reunion gig. Aaron Rieseberg was recruited to bring the four string thunder (presumably Sato was still busy saving Middle Earth). The gig was good. The gig was loud. Tracks were written. An album was planned. Much like Heathcliff, Yob were back to chew gum, kick ass and play doom.

  1. Yorkshire, of course.