Yob Credit: James Rexroad

The doom metal I enjoy generally does a fine job whipping up feelings of dread, revulsion, despair, and outrage—and like a good horror movie, it allows you to splash around in darkness without suffering the associated trauma. As cathartic as that can be, though, it misses a huge opportunity by rolling credits before anyone has had a chance to return to daily life. Oregon trio Yob are distinctively wonderful because they keep going all the way to that ordinary light at the end of the tunnel—their recent eighth album, Our Raw Heart (Relapse), evokes the renewed vision that settles onto survivors of near-death experiences, when every leaf on every tree seems freshly miraculous and radiant. In this case the near-death experience is literal: Yob guitarist and front man Mike Scheidt, 47, was diagnosed with acute diverticulitis in late 2016 and underwent a nine-hour emergency surgery early last year after his sigmoid colon ruptured and flooded his abdomen with pus. As he told Rolling Stone this spring, when he began writing Our Raw Heart, “There was no guarantee that I was going to live long enough to record the album.” These songs immerse themselves in the body’s painful betrayals, the cruelties humans visit upon one another, the downward tug of the lifeless hand of depression—and in response they reach for a divine love beyond time and physical form. “No matter how lost / You find yourself / The sun rises still,” Scheidt sings on “In Reverie,” buffeted by swinging, concussive thunder. “Whatever you believe / In these red times / There is more / Than errors of sight.” Even the album’s structures mirror this seeking, often meditatively circling a riff or a pitch center and then leaping into a vast, kaleidoscopic chorus. Scheidt says his surgeons played Yob’s music as an “anchor” for him while he was clinging to life on the operating table, and for those of us clinging to our own lives, the band can work the same way. “I’m wearing less black,” Scheidt told the New Yorker last summer. “I’m attracted to color.”  v

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.