originally written by Jim Brandon
So, you like it heavy, huh? Heavy enough to make it hard to breathe, or just smashed into a patty of bone, sinew, and offal? I’d make the strong suggestion that The Great Cessation is exactly the fix you’re looking for. If anyone thought for even a brief moment that doom veterans YOB would come out the other side of their disastrous name change to Middian and back by playing the whimpering victims of a cutthroat music industry, then they’d be sadly mistaken. This is the sound of vengeance, collected in five songs. The rumbling, psychedelic catharsis of The Unreal Never Lived, orThe Illusion Of Motion is most certainly not being administered in large doses this time around, since this is undoubtedly one of the more infuriated albums you’re going to hear for quite some time to come, much less this year.
YOB don’t make things difficult for their listeners to understand; it’s just a merciless assault that only gives fractional opportunity to catch a breath of stale air (briefly in “The Lie That Is Sin”) before the killing begins again. We’re talking half a step away from pure ugly, except there’s still a certain peculiar grace woven into all of this. “Silence Of Heaven” alone is over nine minutes of dissonant, tortuously methodical dementia that simultaneously, somehow, exudes a sinister vibrancy that must be heard to be understood, and isn’t far removed from the barren churn of SunnO))). The lead-off track “Burning The Altar” is about as painless as it’s gonna’ get, being accessible to unaccustomed ears to a limited degree, jam packed with cool groove, all the while showing a masterful display of the most fundamental and beautiful aspect of great metal. Of course, we’re talking riffs, folks, and a lot of them.
It’s those thundering, potent guitar riffs that collaborate with a brain-jarring rhythm section, which are then topped off by Mike Scheidt’s utterly inhumane vocalizations bringing forth a sound that’s even more expansive than ever, resulting in this nasty, bitter brew. Roars from the void, screams from the depths, with trademark warbling cleans that sound neither cleansing nor comforting are firmly intact and pushed to the breaking point of arguable album highlight “Breathing From The Shallows” a tune that shows YOB indulging a riveting mix of dynamics and oppressive riff heft. Yet as commanding as the first four songs are, the towering 20+ minute conclusion is the band’s crowning glory, that would be the signature monolithic title track to The Great Cessation, and what a monster it is…
Deception is an occasionally seductive weapon of war, so despite its pensive beginning, teeth steadily begin to gnash, grind, and puncture to the point of bloodletting. It’s a heartless tease that starts to show its true face about four minutes in, as a sorrowful Converge-like guitar and sullen vocals float from the mire and eventually bloom into thick power chords, with a pained voice harkening heroin enhanced Mustaine. They sound spent, and nearly defeated, yet as the eleven minute mark rolls around,YOB unleash a final strike, bringing more mass casualties. The combination of steady repetition, calculated build, and powerful restraint closes the album with a sense of total completion, like a death well deserved and fought for, and not one moment of this concluding twenty minutes suffers filler. Scheidt, Reiseberg, and Foster really have given it their all.
The Great Cessation is absolutely exhausting on every level imaginable, and at times makes The Unreal Never Lived sound like a kitten playing with fallen leaves under a tree in autumn by comparison thanks to producer Sanford Parker’s magic fingers and ears. I can’t even bring myself to call this “epic” in the classic sense, because there’s no feeling of release, ascension, or reflection at any point throughout the disc. They only want to do damage, and they do so, leaving an inordinate amount of wreckage behind. The troubles with Middian left in the past, and freshly signed to Profound Lore, the rebirth and revitalization of YOB could turn out to be the comeback of the year, and you will never realize how much you missed them until you properly allow this superb hulk to run roughshod over you. I cannot find a mentionable flaw anywhere, and if you can, then we might not be listening to the same album. A must-have return, and yet another Top 10 Year End dark horse that may just surpass them all.
Long live doom.