YOB is a doom metal band from Eugene, Oregon, though that single tag doesn't remotely capture the entirety of their attack, which also integrates sludge, space, stoner, and progressive rock to create an intense and instantly recognizable sound. Their career can be delineated into two distinct periods. The first covers their first four albums: Elaborations of Carbon, Catharsis, The Illusion of Motion, and The Unreal Never Lived between 2001 and 2005, which established a healthy following among doom metal fans, after which they split and guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt went on to form the short-lived Middian. The second period started with their reunion and The Great Cessation on Profound Lore in 2008 -- the band upped its doom quotient and began relentlessly experimenting with prog metal and abstractions of sound, which saw their reputation spread far and wide. At the end of 2016 after a long European tour, Scheidt was diagnosed with acute diverticulitis. After returning home, recuperating, and resuming his everyday activities, he was hit by a second bout in January of 2017. It nearly killed him, but after emergency surgery and nearly a year in convalescence, he went back to work with YOB.
Guitarist and vocalist Mike Scheidt came out of the American Northwest's burgeoning hardcore scene during the early to mid-'90s, playing bass with the bands Chemikill, Dirty Sanchez, and H.C. Minds. He formed YOB as its guitarist and vocalist in 1996 with bassist Lowell Iles and drummer Greg Ocon. Their digitally issued debut demo appeared in 1999. This lineup lasted only until 2001; the rhythm section disbanded after recording YOB's full-length Elaborations of Carbon for 12th Records, issued the following year. Scheidt recruited bassist Isamu Sato and drummer Gabe Morely as replacements. The band signed to Abstract Sounds for its sophomore offering, Catharsis, which showcased their extended, super-slow dirge style to its fullest over three extended tracks. After its release in 2003, Morely left and was replaced by drummer Travis Foster. The critical reception that greeted Catharsis was immediate and international, thanks to the internet. Metal Blade signed the band and immediately put them on tour before getting them into the studio to record their 2004 label debut The Illusion of Motion, which gained the band its first headlining tour of the U.S. After the tour, the band re-entered the studio and emerged with 2005's The Unreal Never Lived. Following a headlining tour and festival dates in Europe, Foster and Sato left the band in July. Six months later, in January 2006, Scheidt appeared to have had enough as well: He announced that YOB had disbanded and that he was now working with a new band called Middian with the rhythm section of bass guitarist/vocalist Will Lindsay and drummer Scott Headrick. They released one album titled Age Eternal -- also on Metal Blade -- in 2007. After being sued and fighting an extended court battle over the name with a Wisconsin band named Midian, they split.
It was far from the end of the story, however. In 2008, Scheidt re-formed YOB with Foster. The intention was to find a bassist, play some gigs, and cut another album. They recruited Aaron Rieseberg to fill the chair in 2009, signed with Profound Lore, and recorded The Great Cessation with guest keyboardist/ engineer Sanford Parker. They toured the globe. In 2010, the band delivered a scorching performance at that year's Roadburn Festival. YOB released one more album for Profound Lore, 2011's ambitious Atma, that featured sampling from Rieseberg's brother and a guest vocal spot from Neurosis' Scott Kelly. They also issued Live at Roadburn 2010. The following year, they played the Scion Label Showcase for Profound Lore Records at The Glass House in Pomona, California and issued two tracks as the Live EP. Months later, those same two tracks appeared alongside two each from labelmates Pallbearer, the Atlas Moth, and Loss -- as well as one from Wolvhammer for the limited-edition Label Showcase: Profound Lore Records. YOB continued to tour like mad over the next year-and-a-half. Another of their performances at Roadburn was issued as a 500-copy edition Live at Roadburn 2012 as two 12" vinyls; they instantly sold out.
The recording was issued just before they signed to Neurot and re-entered the studio. Their debut for the label was Clearing the Path to Ascend, recorded by Billy Barnett, who also contributed Hammond organ to a track. Issued in 2014, it marked their best-selling album to date and peaked at number 18 on the national Heatseekers charts. YOB's touring was constant for two years. In early 2017, Scheidt was diagnosed with acute diverticulitis, a serious infection of the digestive system for which he underwent emergency surgery. He spent nearly a year recovering, but in the interim signed the band to Relapse -- which reissued The Great Cessation in December -- and resumed an intermittent touring schedule. Most importantly, they completed a studio album for a summer 2018 release. Titled Our Raw Heart, its seven tracks were recorded with Barnett at Gung Ho Studio in Eugene, Oregon and mastered by Heba Kadry (the Mars Volta, Diamanda Galas). Its release was followed by a North American tour. ~ Thom Jurek