Mind is blown.
Got to Slim's when openers Will Haven were about halfway through their set, never really heard them before the show except for a couple songs. They weren't very good I thought, though Mike Scheidt (YOB mastermind/vocals/guitars) later said that when he first saw this band in 2001 that it changed the way he played guitar. You can hear some of the influence in that deliberate, highly rhythmic strumming style that Will Haven employ in their style of hardcore/sludge rock, but it just sounded way underdeveloped and lacking in dynamics. The two guitarists and vocalist looked pretty young and total hipster so I'm almost positive this is a newer lineup, maybe they used to be better back in the day.
YOB though, fuck. Maybe the best sounding live set I've ever seen, and that's not a compliment to the venue as much as it is to the band's equipment. We're talking the real thing, vintage Green and Marshall amps pushing major air. Some shows are loud but it sucks because the frequencies are too high and makes that shrill annoying sound, but this was LOUD and like a full body massage, with the bass and drums and the guitars vibrating sound and engulfing the whole room. Very pleasant and very clear, and very loud. When I closed my eyes it was exactly like listening to the record on a pair of high quality headphones turned up to 11 (or more like 11,000).
A good description of YOB's music is like imagining Nile on Rohypnol. Lots of Eastern-tinged melodies and progressions with roaring vocals. I simply could not believe the sounds coming out of this nerdy looking middle age dude's mouth. Unfortunately no one will believe me, but I seriously have never experienced as amazing a vocal performance as that set. Not only can Schiedt growl more powerfully and intimidatingly than anyone I've ever heard, but the next moment he can cut through with some clean vocals that sound like Geddy Lee after inhaling helium. Well maybe its not nearly that intense or polarizing, but he does have a very unique higher register vocals that coupled with some distortion gives off a spacey, ethereal vibe that complements the often spacey feel of the music. The bassist and drummer were both top notch as well, absolutely primo rhythm section. Dude was rockin an awesome white Explorer-style bass too.
The song selection and pacing was perfect. They even played one that Mike said they hadn't done since 2000 (that would be "Pain of I"). Of course they didn't do one from my favorite album of theirs Catharsis
, but I didn't expect them to and wasn't in the least bit disappointed. When most of your songs are 10+ minutes its hard to make a good setlist, but they really nailed it. Here's what they played:
Ball of Molten Lead
Burning the Altar
Pain of I
The Silence of Heaven
"Grasping Air" was amazing to hear especially, but the thing that made this set extraordinary was "The Silence of Heaven". It's off the new album The Great Cessation
which hasn't come out yet so this was for most people in the audience the first time hearing it. Hands down the nastiest, most psychotic, blizzard-brained straight-jacket-needed vocal freakout I've ever heard. I think everyone was just completely dumbfounded, including myself. Shit literally gave me chills. The song itself is one of the slowest and most purely "doom" of their career, anchored around one incredible simple riff progression, but the spotlight is completely on the vocals. Fuck I wish someone posts video of it. After he finished I saw Mike quickly and briefly wipe a tear before thanking the audience, I don't know if anyone else caught it but I'm almost positive thats what it was.
Life affirming show for sure, they need to come back again soon. And if you're lucky enough to have the opportunity to see them play, you would be remiss not to go.