Yob’s eighth full-length album may draw inspiration from guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt’s highly publicized medical battles, but it doesn’t paint the typical picture of triumph. True to title, Our Raw Heart is an incredibly painful listen presented by a thoroughly exhausted band. The guitars sound warped, the drums lurch as if they’ll collapse at any second, the held-out chords are enough to make one wonder if they have the strength to get up again, and the vocals are delivered in an incredibly painful wheeze.
Yet despite such description, these flawed components all come together to form a beautiful whole. This is best demonstrated on “Beauty in Falling Leaves.” While a sixteen-minute run time in combination with the album’s slowest tempos would suggest agonizing dullness, the drawn-out vocal lines and subtly shifting dynamics strike an emotional core that allows time to freely float by while one is in the throes of catharsis. “Lungs Reach” works in a similar fashion as its minimalist first half provides some satisfying ambiance that pays off at its pummeling climax.
Of course, this album isn’t an easy listen by any means. The predominately heavier songs seem somewhat out of place as nearly ten minutes of the slowed-down gallop on “The Screen” feels like beating a dead horse after a while. I also feel like the album could’ve ended at “Beauty in Falling Leaves;” the two songs after it are great, the title track is quite strong, but ending there would have culminated in an even more powerful climax than “Marrow,” which closed 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend.
Our Raw Heart may offer the same post-metal sludge that fans have come to expect from Yob, but it holds an emotional core that none of its imitators could ever hope to match. It’s not an accessible listen, but its compelling presentation can pull even the most hardened listeners past its flaws to experience that, despite this being among the band’s least aggressive efforts, its contrasting dynamics hit incredibly hard. It is an album that is not to be taken lightly. Those with the time and patience to withstand its pain are sure to be deeply rewarded.
“Beauty in Falling Leaves”
“Our Raw Heart”
Related reading: Yob: Live at Reggie’s, Chicago, July 2018