By Dave Pehling
SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — One of stoner/doom metal’s leading lights returns to the Bay Area Saturday when Oregon-based trio YOB shares the stage with fellow Northwestern metal experimentalists Khôrada and local avant metal group Ails at Slim’s.
Best known as the leader and principle songwriter for Northwestern doom-metal legends YOB, guitarist/singer Mike Scheidt is a prolific musician who has been adding more and more diverse projects to his resume in recent years.
YOB has rightfully risen to become one of the most respected bands in the metal underground since being founded by the Eugene, OR-based Scheidt in 1996. Mixing in elements of droning psychedelia and progressive rock with his monolithic, Sabbath-influenced guitar riffs and intricate songs that usually stretch beyond the ten-minute mark, the epic tunes heard on such classic YOB efforts as Catharsis and The Unreal Never Lived show off the talents of a restless artist who has always pushed the boundaries of metal.
While YOB would split up in the mid-2000s much to the dismay of their fans, Scheidt would convene a new trio under the name Middian that explored a still heavy sound at decidedly faster tempos on their single album, Age Eternal. Eventually, the guitarist would reform YOB in 2008 with drummer Travis Foster (who had already played with the band for a couple of years prior to the split) and new bassist Aaron Rieseberg. In the decade since, Scheidt has produced some of his most indelible work with the band.
The Profound Lore imprint released The Great Cessation and Atma to wide praise, but it was the band’s first disc for Neurot Recordings (the label founded by Bay Area experimental metal heroes Neurosis) in fall of 2014 entitled Clearing the Path to Ascend that brought the group a new level of critical adulation. Drawing on a wider sonic palette inspired in part by his more acoustically oriented 2012 solo album Stay Awake for Thrill Jockey Records, Clearing the Path to Ascend was praised by many as YOB’s most cohesive and powerful recording to date.
Named the best metal album of 2014 by Rolling Stone and appearing on numerous year-ending “best of” lists, the four-song, hour plus collection delivered some of the most emotionally charged and evocative music of Scheidt’s career without sacrificing an iota of YOB’s trademark heft.
Scheidt also teamed with noted Bay Area guitarist John Cobbett (Hammers of Misfortune, Ludicra) as part of Bay Area metal band VHOL, who issued their ambitious 2015 sophomore album for Profound Lore, Deeper Than Sky, that garnered widespread critical acclaim for it’s eclectic mix of prog-metal and thrash. Last year Scheidt had a serious health scare after being diagnosed with the intestinal disorder diverticulitus. A sudden attack in January led to emergency surgery that saved the singer’s life, but slowed work on the next YOB album as he concentrated on recovery.
Invigorated by his brush with death and return to good health, Scheidt eventually emerged with some of his most triumphant songs yet. Released in June on Relapse Records, Our Raw Heart opens with the majestic, uplifting anthem “Ablaze” and proceeds to deliver a mix of the songwriter’s most intensely emotional and gorgeous tunes (“Beauty in Falling Leaves” and the soaring title track) balanced by his trademark chugging riffs (“The Screen” and the snarling crusher “Original Face”) over the course of nearly 75 minutes.
YOB played several Northern California shows this past September with a massive doom-metal tour featuring SF trio Acid King and Sacramento outfit CHRCH, but the group brings the new material back to the Bay Area Saturday en route to an appearance at the Decibel Metal and Beer Festival in Los Angeles Sunday. For this Saturday night gig at Slim’s in San Francisco sponsored by online metal radio station Gimme Radio, Scheidt and company will be joined by Portland, OR-based crew Khôrada. Formed by members who had made a name for themselves in boundary-pushing metal band Agalloch (guitarist Don Anderson, bassist Jason Walton and drummer Aesop Dekker) alongside former Giant Squid guitarist/singer Aaron John Gregory, Khôrada creates a dramatic and atmospheric style of metal with heavy prog-rock elements on its recent debut album Salt. Opening Oakland quintet Ails is the latest project featuring former Ludicra vocalist Laurie Shanaman and guitar player/vocalist Christy Cather.
YOB with Khôrada and Ails
Saturday, Dec. 1, 7 p.m. $25-$30