The young, violent landscape of the Pacific Northwest is an ideal incubator for the music of YOB. Lowing, gleaming guitars are layered like geologic strata, rich with bedrock, metals, and the occasional fossil. Drums explode and cover everything with fine volcanic ash. Melodies slowly ascend like mighty old growth trees, and songs are blanketed with a murky, tumultuous cover of angry clouds. In five short years, the Eugene trio of YOB rose from obscurity to revive doom metal and inject new life into the genre.
"YOB is truly one of the most important doom metal bands in history," says DJ, promoter, and onetime Mercury freelancer Nathan Carson. "They've advanced a very traditional form, bringing it soundly into the 21st century. YOB's music and ideas carried them to the world stage based on quality alone. That's a rare occurrence."
A rare occurrence, and a short-lived one. As YOB guitarist Mike Scheidt says, "Once we got back from our third US tour [in 2005], Isamu [Sato, bassist] and Travis [Foster, drums] expressed they were done with extensive touring. That pretty much was the beginning of the end. I tried a new lineup, but I think losing Travis and Isamu burned me out, and I couldn't see to the end of the process of bringing another lineup to speed, especially trying to achieve the level we had so recently had."
Scheidt formed a new trio, Middian, and released an album in 2007 called Age Eternal. But a Wisconsin band called Midian sued them for having a similar name, and a lengthy lawsuit drained the new band of funds and energy. They toyed with the idea of carrying on under the name Age Eternal, but the joy had been sucked out of the project. "We're fucking dead," says the headline on the band's now-defunct MySpace page.
"The lawsuit took its toll on us," says Scheidt. "Will [Lindsay, bassist for Middian] moved to Olympia to pursue Wolves in the Throne Room full-time, and Scott [Headrick, drums] moved to Idaho to start over entirely." Scheidt found himself thinking in terms of YOB again, and reconnected with drummer Travis Foster. They found a third member in longtime friend Aaron Reiseberg, bassist for Norska and Saintan. "He learned three songs in one practice, which is basically 40 minutes of YOB music. That's all it took for Travis and me to be convinced," says Scheidt.
After postponing the initial reunion gig from December, the YOB reunion show appropriately takes place at Ash Street Saloon, the site of YOB's very first gig in 2000. "At that time, Mike was shorthaired and slightly pudgy, wearing a baseball cap, wire-rim glasses, and a Hawaiian shirt," says Carson. "Fast forward a few years, and his hair was to his shoulders, tattoos on his massive arms. It's been such a pleasure to witness his metamorphosis from Eugene metal nerd to one of Earth's metal gods."
In March, the new lineup of YOB is set to enter the studio with producer Sanford Parker. "At this point we are talking about a half-dozen shows and the album," says Scheidt. "We all have jobs and responsibilities that cannot be put on hold for a month at a time to tour. For now—and maybe always—YOB will be a recording band with a handful of gigs being played here and there, as long as people will have us."