My favorite shows tend to have diverse bills. When varied bands play together, it highlights the distinct strengths of each. When several bands that ply the same trade share a stage, it sets up unflattering comparisons among them.
If I played in a slow metal band and found myself on a bill with Yob, I’d be scared. The Eugene, OR band may be the best doom band in the game today. They sport an intimidating catalog and one of the most impressive live shows I’ve seen. Yob casts a harsh light; few likeminded bands could look good in such a glare.
Connecticut’s Sea of Bones and Brooklyn’s Batillus did their best not to wash out. The former took the whole “doom=slow” thing literally. By their account, they didn’t dig their van out of this past Friday’s snowstorm until 4 PM on the day of the show, causing their set (and thus the rest of the show) to run late. Sea of Bones also takes doom’s gear/volume obsession to an extreme, employing more full stacks than musicians. The huge backline paradoxically makes it harder to hear what notes they’re playing. (It also looks a little silly in the small clubs and basements they frequent.)
Batillus’s PR language pitches them as “avant-industrial doom conjurors.” I hear the doom, and some of the industrial (especially on record, where they benefit from a tricked-out Sanford Parker production). The “avant” part remains a mystery to my ear. It seems to me that Batillus owes much of their success to their ability to give relatively conventional sludgy doom a fresh coat of paint, for which Fade Kainer’s Wrest-esque vocals deserve considerable credit.
This show (on 2/11) was the second of Yob’s two-night IO-sponsored stay at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn (pictures from the first). According to guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, they will not play another for some time, owing to preparations for their next record. No material from the heretofore-unannounced album appeared. The set featured songs from their last four records instead: “Ball of Molten Lead” from The Illusion of Motion; “Quantum Mystic,” “Grasping Air,” and “The Mental Tyrant” from The Unreal Never Lived; “Burning the Altar” from The Great Cessation; and “Upon the Sight of the Other Shore” from Atma.
Descriptions of Yob tend to focus on their psychedelic elements–the drifting rhythms, the ethereal leads, the Geddy Lee vox, and so on. Seeing them in person reminds you that their music is as gutsy as heady. Scheidt plays with attitude; he strikes his guitar rather than strumming it. His energy caught on with the surprisingly drunk Monday-night crowd. (Some guys started moshing. Moshing to Yob is so inexplicable to me that I’m not even sure how to comment on it.)
It is strange to hear such unearthly sounds coming from a man who looks and dresses like The Dude. I was reminded of Luc Lemay’s quip from the 2010 Gorguts tour: “Small, but loud.”
Sea of Bones
More pictures and some video of Yob in action on the following page…