North London is treated to a seriously unhealthy amount of doom as the purveyors of everything heavy Yob and Pallbearer roll into a sold-out show at the Underworld in Camden. And this is what we learned from the experience...
Doom is booming
Whoever booked Yob at the Underworld clearly underestimated the potency of their following but what they also didn’t bargain for is explosion of fervour for Pallbearer’s second and quite brilliant album Foundations Of Burden which has as many people hitting the venue to hear that record as have come to see the headliner’s Yob. Of course, it helps that sluggish leadweight offerings are thriving thanks to bands like Conan, Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath’s respectable comeback, and while doom might not be everyone’s cup of tea there’s no denying that this music that drags you through an aural swamp reaches parts of the soul that other brands of metal daren’t venture.
Pallbearer have dropped an album of the year
On the basis of two very solid albums no-one can fault the altogether more celestial brand of doom that Pallbearer create so brilliantly. But with Foundations Of Burden just recently released all ears are on the new songs. And so we are treated to cuts that alternate between ominous bass notes that could make Hades quake and entrancing guitar licks that take the form of misty shards of light. Brett Campbell’s voice is a little shaky at times but otherwise the harmonies on songs like Worlds Apart are enough to induce the crowd into a trance-like state. Like a spiritual awakening, Watcher in the Dark dissipates any sense of foreboding with sky-reaching melodies that reminds us that doom for the 21st century can beautiful and bone-crushing.
**It’s okay to play an album in full **
There are people actually leaving the venue after Pallbearer play which thankfully offers up a bit of breathing space on the floor but doesn’t leave us wondering why anyone would want to miss Yob. Blending the guttural dirge of Mastodon and Crowbar with the post-rock abjection of Neurosis, Yob work by their own agenda and have no qualms in writing 20 minute songs or playing Clearing The Path To Ascend in full, which exactly what they do tonight. When they plough into In Our Blood, in the dimly lit recesses of Camden’s famed metal haunt, it’s like being yanked into some subterranean pit of lava that leaves you gasping for light and air.
Heads are banged
Segueing without grace into the rumbling tumult of Nothing To Win, the heavy head nods of the masses become a frenzied, unified headbang in time to a crashing blitz of riffs and screams. Headfucking us out of the tempest Unmask The Spectre creeps in like an aural nightmare, ready to pounce with another slab of stop-start rhythms, like a razor-sharp pendulum swinging between creeping volcanic destruction and sparse but ominous atmospherics. The same is heard, and indeed felt, on their opus Marrow which at times arrives at reflective moments akin to Cult Of Luna before building to a wash of sheer heaviness.
**It’s all about timing **
Yob prove that doom doesn’t have to be about playing everything at a snail’s pace as they pick up the tempo with a couple of oldies, namely Quantum Mystic and Adrift In The Ocean, culminating in an outbreak of tremulous war drums and an arresting haze of distorted guitar to finish off an impeccable set.