Our Raw Heart

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Ablaze
02. The Screen
03. In Reverie
04. Lung Reach
05. Beauty in Falling Leaves
06. Original Face
07. Our Raw Heart

YOB's riffs and songs are gargantuan. YOB is the heavy metal equivalent of planets colliding. Something of a similar magnitude, in a pejorative sense, impacted ring leader Mike Scheidt recently with regard to his health. He underwent a major surgery for intestinal disease, a surgery that took hours longer than expected. His health woes essentially left him standing at death's door. He pulled through and survived it all. The understandable scope of emotions involved with such an ordeal, ranging from sorrow to joy and relief, color his band's latest album, "Our Raw Heart", probably its best effort yet.

While a vast array of expected emotions shines through "Our Raw Heart", it's interesting that the feeling of uncertainty doesn't come across excessively. It isn't non-existent. It's just usurped by a greater sense of survival and triumph. In terms of performance and the overall scope of the songs and emotions involved, there's a clear, overriding sense of fortitude and determination. This is what one would expect from the spirit of a survivor. These feelings are almost tangible throughout the album. Needless to say, simply because the source material was there for a powerful album and that a sense of catharsis was surely achieved by the primary creator, it doesn't instantly mean an artistic endeavor has been fruitful, not for the audience, anyway. But with its eighth full-length, Scheidt and his henchmen in YOB—bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster—have fortunately released what is probably the best album of the Eugene, Oregon-based band's career.

YOB has always had the ability to leverage sounds, and the lack thereof in between, toward an expansive soundscape that's somehow instantly majestic without being pretentious. Perhaps most salient of the songs and emotions are the more maniacal ones that teeter on the brink of the sinister on both the title track as well as "The Screen". Whatever the case may be, these songs unquestionably encompass an overwhelming sense of rage via the more aggressive musical attributes, but most especially due to Scheidt's vocal delivery which entails an unhinged sense of lunacy unlike that which we've heard from him before.

There seems to a deep sense of harrowing introspection more than anything, however. This is no better exemplified than by the earth-shattering riff that erupts at the very onset of "In Reverie". Scheidt's performance here is absolutely heart-wrenching, to such an extent that one would be forgiven for thinking he was experiencing a severe state of physical pain during the recording. Perhaps he was. The passion is absolutely overwhelming, surely recognizable to the lay person completely unfamiliar with this kind of music if they were to hear it. In any event, Scheidt's ordeal with pain and suffering has manifested itself into an artistic expression that is being appreciated by doom metal fans the world over. His dance with death has been immortalized with "Our Raw Heart".

Author: Jay H. Gorania
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