You could call Yob’s eighth studio album a labour of love. Certainly, from reading Mike Scheidt’s heartfelt Facebook updates over the past couple years, it’s clear the frontman has a new lease on life after an intestinal disease left him hospitalized in 2017. While doom is definitely no stranger to pain and suffering, whether physical or mental, it might not be a stretch to say that signs of hope can be heard throughout this 75-minute effort.
The band comes out firing on “Ablaze,” a 10-and-a-half-minute number that displays some of Yob’s trademark downtrodden tones. And yet, I wouldn’t hesitate to say there’s more brightness here, whether in some of the lighter guitar riffs, or the mellower instrumental passages. Even Scheidt’s soaring vocals seem to have a brighter sheen. “The Screen” gets off to a rawer, more rugged start, a steady chug and a raspy whispered vocal culminating in one of those longing, soaring choruses that Scheidt and company do so well. The main riff of “In Reverie” hits like a ton of bricks, an excellent example of slow-mo-headbanging, knuckle-dragging doom. But this particular tune has less variation than its predecessors.
The intro to “Lungs Reach” drags on a little too long before the first heavy riff hits about three-and-a-half minutes in. This one is mercifully short, however, at a shade under six minutes. There are a couple of lengthy epics to follow, though. “Beauty in Falling Leaves” clocks in at just less than 17 minutes, taking a mellow, melodic, post-rock buildup into a soaring, airy take on doom, much lighter than your typical Yob fare, but arguably just as impactful. The 15-minute title track also takes a lighter approach, as they dial back the distortion in favour of clearer tones and cleaner vocals. The effect is actually sort of soothing.