Okay, first there was YOB, with songs longer than God's beard hair, creepy otherworldly vocals beamed in from some other planet, and riffing so slow and heavy it ground lesser music into sediment like a sonic glacier. Then the rhythm section left, and Mike Scheidt, being one of the most gracious dudes in rock, christened his new lineup MIDDIAN out of respect to them. Enter a deal with Metal Blade and more apocalyptic end-of-the-universe proto-doom, with a slightly faster, crustier tinge. Along came a bunch of third-stringers from Podunk who'd copyrighted the name MIDIAN, and decided to make a name for themselves with a lawsuit that they'd never managed to pull off with their generic band. Exit Metal Blade like a scared puppy, and enter a year of completely pointless legal drama that resulted in the demise of MIDDIAN.The silver lining amid all this hassle? Scheidt, though he's broke and no longer able to pull off long tours, has reformed YOB with original drummer Travis Foster and new bassist Aaron Reiseberg. And one slog through the nearly ten minutes of "Silence of Heaven", with its madman's chorus of barely-audible demonic moans and its lurching, codeine-laced main riff, will tell you that YOB is back and as frozen in space ice as ever. The sound is a little less laden with effects this time out — perhaps closer to a live, in-the-room aura — and while at first that seems like it leads to a loss of intensity, it actually makes for an even more affecting, dramatic, and harrowing trip. Scheidt's tone is the stuff of legends, and the rhythms thunder and crush behind him as he alternates between a plaintive, sing-song clean vocal and a grimacing, wounded bellow. YOB has always seemed to have the ability to stretch and pull time like taffy — when the acoustic guitar bit hits in "Burning the Altar", and you glance at your player and realize you're already seven minutes into the song, it seems impossible — and then an even more awesome heavy part kicks in, and things like minutes and seconds just melt into the lysergic crunge. Songs take unholy minutes to get through a crashing preamble and into the main section, and you don't care — you want more, and an hour of YOB's cosmic doom abuse never seems like a long enough break from the current mundane dimension. Bottom line, if you liked YOB before, you've already sought this out. If you're into the mind-expanding drug drone of SLEEP or WARHORSE and you haven't checked YOB out yet, you either don't exist or you haven't read a record review since 2000. Fans of GRAVES AT SEA, NEUROSIS and ELECTRIC WIZARD, or anyone who just wants the top of their head scooped out and their brain removed with a melon baller and rewired in a way that doesn't show up on piss tests, take note. YOB may toil in relative obscurity and play to a niche so narrow there's barely room for the three of them in it, but the fact remains that they're one of the most interesting, unique, and all-around best bands traversing the underground today. Oh, and just so we're clear, bands who sue other bands are generally useless dickheads.
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