Oregon's YOB requires little in the way of an introduction. Doom folks "in the know" are well aware of the trio's already impressive body of work that includes "Elaborations of Carbon" (12th Records), "Catharsis" (Lunasound/Abstract Sounds), and the band's 2004 Metal Blade debut, "The Illusion of Motion". That "The Unreal Never Lived" consists of only four songs that span 51 minutes won't be much of a shocker to fans either. Staying true to its frightening brand of tripped out doom, yet keeping the style fresh with each new release, "The Unreal Never Lived" is sure to be viewed as one more in an ever lengthening line of quality albums.Mike Scheidt's guitar work on the disc takes on a thicker and more menacing sound, throwing in minor switches and still squeezing out every drop of blood from a saturated cloth with each note played. One of many examples of the man's ability to get the most out of a single instrument, his shivering guitar solo (of sorts) on "Grasping Air" produces those little things call goose bumps. Scheidt again uses several different vocal styles, from vintage mournful doom to moments that approach a death-growl. His witchy semi-falsetto voice is used more sparingly this time around, standing out most noticeably on "Kosmos". Never stomping on the gas pedal, but changing time signature within narrow parameters, even those with only a passing interest in doom should enjoy these epic arrangements. The mid-tempo SABBATH march of album-opener "Quantum Mystic" is more muscular than much of the band's previous work. A smoke-filled HIGH ON FIRE vibe is present on this track, as well as parts of "Kosmos". The 21-minute "The Mental Tyrant" begins with a long opening instrumental section that reminds me of something PELICAN would concoct. Wave after wave of mountainous riffs wash over you, bringing one to the brink of suffocation, allowing only brief gasps of air. Bestial scream vocals and thunderclap riffs crash down, as echoing spoken parts ooze out amidst even slower thuds later on. The pace finally picks up, if only slightly, around the 16-minute mark, the agonizing screams becoming more desperate, the gigantic riffs ever more fearful. Like a slithering serpent crawling away into pitch darkness, a chugging riff eventually leads to a beehive of swirling vocal effects. The track is as monolithic a chiller as I've heard. Predictable more so in the sense that a top-notch product is once again offered to the masses, "The Unreal Never Lived" should keep doomsters fat and happy for another year or so.
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