GIG REVIEW: Yob, Sea of Bones, Black Pyramid Live at The Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA
Bell Witch’s unfortunate drop from the tour temporarily due to a back injury left an open slot that was more than adequately filled by Massachusetts’ own doom institution: Black Pyramid. On a night brimming with more atmospheric and extreme sounds, their brand of rock-ier, more traditionally structured stoner-doom mixed things up and made for a lively start to the evening. Original front man Andy Beresky and company tore through a well-received set highlighted by fan favorite “Visions of Gehenna.” Yob main man and coolest guy in the room Mike Scheidt looked on approvingly as drummer Andy Kivela, whose every deft hit threatened annihilation of his drum heads, Beresky, and rock-solid bass player Eric Beaudry relished in an unexpected opportunity to play for the Boston faithful.
Sea of Bones’ set was one of the loudest in recent memory. I regretted having left my high-end earplugs at home, as the bass heavy drone of their predominately atmospheric set provided the added benefit of a foot massage. Their monolithically heavy set washed over the stock-still, almost hypnotized crowd, who were beaten well into submission and primed for the main event.
Having spent the last twenty minutes of Sea of Bones’ set seemingly meditating side stage, Yob’s Scheidt took the podium along with his bandmates to loud approval from an adoring crowd. His unusual position stage left, looking in on bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster, cultivated a communal vibe that encapsulated the spirit of their heavy and sometimes aggressive, yet reflective and frequently trance inducing set.
The ritual commenced with “Ablaze,” the lead-off track from their excellent new record ‘Our Raw Heart,’ a song whose efficiency belied its long runtime. A heavy tune both emotionally and musically, it’s as good a calling card for Yob in 2018 as one could ask for, and found the band in fine form.
The band leaned heavily on the new album throughout their seven-song set, including a romp through lead-off single “The Screen,” a track that sounds slightly repetitive on record but slays live. The swampy ugliness of the knotty, stuttering verse is metaphorically washed clean by the heartfelt emotive wave of the chorus, expertly emphasizing the band’s ability to balance light and dark.
Elsewhere, ‘Our Raw Heart’s’ aggressively urgent “Original Face” played the yin to its title track’s yang. The latter, a song that Robert Plant might call “a song of hope,” is a deeply moving meditation on life inspired by Scheidt’s recent near death experience due to severe complications from diverticulitis. The brilliantly executed song and set highlight progressed from a spare guitar intro, which provided a brief respite from the set’s unrelenting heaviness, into a sprawling unhurried and beautifully sung anthem that commanded the crowd’s undivided attention.
The set, which to my dismay eschewed 2014’s masterpiece ‘Clearing the Path to Ascend’ entirely, was rounded out by a handful of mid-catalog tracks. The slow, plodding doom of “The Lie that is Sin” from 2009’s ‘The Great Cessation’ built into swirling metallic psychedelia to the delight of a crowd clearly in the know. 2011’s ‘Atma’ was represented by standout track “Adrift in the Ocean”, whose beginnings lie in atmospheric Iommi-esque guitar noodling and an extended tom heavy build-up, perfectly suited to Yob’s euphoria-inducing slog. Offset by the ferocity of the verse riff and the subsequent and deceptively catchy chorus riff and melody, the track was easily another set highlight.
The band reached back to 2005 for the metallic shuffle of show closer “Quantum Physics” from 2005’s ‘The Unreal Never Lived.’ The song’s aggressive groove and start-stop riffs emphasized the tightness of the band, and provided moments of catharsis as Scheidt’s inimitable wail highlighted every sludgy twist.
The harbingers of doom laid sonic waste to a capacity crowd in Cambridge, MA on Saturday night. The members of Yob, Sea of Bones and Black Pyramid played well-received sets of literally ground-shaking metal that were at the same time crushingly heavy and thoughtfully contemplative.