Oregon's trance-doom astronauts YOB approached their fifth studio album, 2011's Atma, with something of a back to basics attitude, intentionally wrapping their trademark, slowly developing epic grinds -- inspired by everyone from Sabbath to Vitus to Sleep to Dark Castle -- inside a hazy production fog. And, as a result, some power (and, one would imagine, some fans) is lost right along with the discarded layers of double- or triple-tracked guitars (God only knows how many), yet the songs themselves are still unmistakably YOB. In fact, the opening psych-punctuated bombast of "Prepare the Ground" could very well pass for an outtake from 2004's The Illusion of Motion, and just when the loosely jammed title track (a Hindu term for "self") teeters on the verge of collapse, a repetitive staccato riff clenches its second half like an iron gauntlet and brings it on home with authority. Yes, attention spans are bound to wander during "Before We Dreamed of Two"'s 16-minute meander, and even the half-as long "Upon the Sight of the Other Shore," but their snail-paced progress gradually reveals a subtle swing as hypnotic as the deep-seated grooves underpinning them. What's more, as the closing "Adrift in the Ocean" proceeds to justify its evocative title by following a series of bewitching guitar notes with a doomsday march worthy of High on Fire, the resemblance between YOB main man Mike Scheidt's ragged guitar tone and Matt Pike's transcends mere coincidence. Speaking of Scheidt, his signature high-pitched warble (which has never been to everyone's liking) is oftentimes replaced by a more commonplace metal growl across this album, thus sacrificing some of YOB's unique imprint for a safer, though certainly very effective new option. All of which points to Atma potentially going down as a transitional, far from perfect album for YOB, or even a creative pause for breath to collect their thoughts before diving off the deep end of experimentation once again. In either case, this one's suited for devoted fans only. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
- Format: Vinyl
- Genre: Pop
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Meta Artist: Yob