Album: Our Raw Heart
Label: Relapse Records
Non-Airable Tracks: N/A
Release Date: June 8th, 2018
Description: YOB is a melodic doom metal band from Oregon and Our Raw Heart is their eighth full length studio album. Here, they incorporate a sort of stoner rock guitar tone (a tone reminiscent of Kyuss). As is the case with every other YOB release up to this point, all of the tracks have extended lengths and feature brooding metal; the average track length is just over 10 minutes with the shortest being a measly 5 minutes 39 seconds (“Lungs Reach”). Every track follows a prototypical doom metal pattern by unfolding slow, dark, and heavy riffs while building up tension. Unfortunately, there are no surprises to be found throughout the 1 hour and 17 minute runtime but there is also never anything offensively bad. Every song simply meets what is expected of an album of the tag “stoner doom metal” and little more.
The album begins with what is probably the best song, “Ablaze”, where the tension builds to a shoegazing peak over the course of 10 minutes. Following that are two more songs with nearly the same lengths, “The Scream” and “In Reverie”, boasting the same grotesque vocals over stoner guitars. “Lungs Reach” then provides a two-minute cool down but, without warning, reverts to their melodic doom metal. The centerpiece of the album is certainly the most dynamic 16-minute “Beauty in Falling Leaves” that, thanks to its length, reveals the limits of the band and their ability to express emotions through their music (with especially poor vocals). This track plus the last two tracks, “Original Face” and “Our Raw Heart” make for an epic and ultra-melodic ending that almost feels out of place coming off of such a bleak first half.
For an album as consistent as Our Raw Heart, there is not a lot to warrant its existence. Everything the album has to offer has been exceeded by other bands (look to Electric Wizard, Sleep, Type O Negative for better doom and Boris for better stoner/ drone metal etc) and even exceeded by YOB themselves. Scheidt’s singing, grotesque as it may be, is poor more often than not and this is shown most explicitly on the longest song, “Beauty in Falling Leaves”. Moreover, the mixing is poor and leaves the drums and bass in the dust. YOB was never terribly original in the first place, but I would easily recommend their third album The Illusion of Motion from 2004, or any of the two that followed that, over Our Raw Heart. Ultimately, Our Raw Heart is only an album I could recommend to fans of this kind of melodic doom metal who have exhausted all other resources.
Final score: 5/10
Sounds Like: Melvins, Sleep, Electric Wizard
Recommended tracks: N/A
Recommended tracks for radio play: Ablaze
Reviewer: Bryan Burnett
Review Date: September 30th, 2018