“The part about the writing that was different than any other album was there was no guarantee that I was going to live long enough to record the album,” Yob leader Mike Scheidt told Rolling Stone, “or maybe even long enough for my bandmates to hear it.”
Few genres spend as much time gazing at mortality as metal. And the eighth album from Eugene, Oregon lurchers Yob – perhaps the 21st Century’s most critically acclaimed doom metal band – was literally written from a hospital bed while Scheidt recovered from a ruptured colon, a seizure and a staph infection. However, Our Raw Heart is no Bergman film. “From holes in my gut/To love from miracles” he sings in the title track, a 14-minute opus that sounds like Diane Warren wrote a power ballad for sludge hypnotists Neurosis. “Lifting off, renewed/Astral form in flight/Enthrall every hue/Unknown to our eyes.” Our Raw Heart is a gushing affirmation of self.
The trio has always subverted doom’s bleak conventions, painting the genre’s slowpoke churn with uplifting melodies, cosmic textures and Scheidt’s existential howl like a dreampop Dio. Our Raw Heart leans into the mid-Aughts rainbow repetition of bands like Jesu, Isis and Pelican – even sounding a bit like Glenn Branca’s guitar symphonies by album’s end. “In Reverie” starts with funereal atmosphere and the 16-minute “Beauty in Falling Leaves” takes off with or pastoral plucking, but both peak with exploding push-pull riffs that sound like Soundgarden trying to approximate the flight of a wounded bird – Scheidt did once take lessons from Captain Beefheart guitarist Zoot Horn Rollo. The feel-good deathbed record of the summer.