Now that you can download doom by the yard, it faces the same problem as any other overpopulated heavy music subgenre: too much sameness. All those plodding beats and downtuned riffs tend to blur together into one giant slab of reconstituted St. Sabbathosis at a certain point. Recently reunited ’90s doom trio YOB distinguishes itself from the current glut not only with its pedigree and power, but also with its secret weapon: guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt’s throat.
Vintage fans or doom noobs will feel right at home on opening track “Burning the Altar” as a torrent of massive-sounding chording resolves itself into a sludgy progression over Travis Foster and Aaron Reiseberg’s stately pound and thrum. The five tracks here each stretch out toward the 10-minute mark or beyond and tend toward the two main doom tempos: crippled crawl (“Silence of Heaven”) and mastodon gallop (“The Lie That Is Sin”). But Scheidt breaks free of doom orthodoxies with a vocal range that encompasses the typical metal cookie-monster gargle but also wolverine howls, melodic bellows, and, on cuts such as “The Lie That Is Sin,” a plaintive, almost adenoidal sound that creates a notably human, even vulnerable core for all this blaring tumult. At moments here, as on “Breathing From the Shallows,” he even seems to duet with himself in different voices. As a result, what could have been a solid but undistinguished bad time gains a personality.
Of course, that’s before the 20-minute-plus title track shows up at the end of the running order. Dynamic shifts and contrasting riffs suggest a suite-like shape for the epic wallow, but it’s Scheidt’s unexpectedly strong and resourceful singing that powers past the pitfalls of the metal suite and binds track and album all together into something uncommonly affecting.