SOUL HEALING: YOB LIVE AT HARD CLUB, PORTO
Some wise men believe that nothing in our lives happens by chance. Whether you choose to believe that there is an universal plan for us all and that God might have something to with it or that our destiny is entirely our own, is up to you. But there is no denying that certain events in our lives seem to make themselves manifest in order to push us towards the right path. If anything, our past actions, whether right or wrong, serve only to teach us as we move forward. This was the overarching feeling that was felt on a somewhat cold and modest Saturday in October’s end, as we walked towards the Hard Club venue once more to witness two performances that will remain in our minds and in our hearts for the rest of our lives.
“For if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes back into you.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche, in Beyond Good and Evil, 1886
By now most of you have already had some form of contact with the Church of Ra, a collective of collaborating artists founded by Amenra and with bands and artists such as Oathbreaker, The Black Heart Rebellion, Treha Sektori and Wiegedood in their impressive roster. It was precisely the latter ones, a black metal trio composed of members of aforementioned Amenra and Oathbreaker, that were playing tonight to a sold out crowd.
Passive and inconspicuous, the trio calmly took their respective places on stage and never left those same spaces until the act was done. But behind this somewhat calm facade lay a desire for explosiveness, a fiery anger ready to erupt. Had we not known already what Wiegedood was capable of, we would definitely be caught by surprise once the first chords of “Ontzieling” made themselves manifest. Immediately we could feel the fury and total absence of light, as Wiegedood quickly opened a rift of dark energy from which all of our terrors and worst nightmares poured out, consuming our essence and cleaving our souls in two. To say anything else would not be making justice to a band that can create an incredibly dense atmosphere, especially with the third record they were presenting, entitled De doden hebben het goed III, and of which they played the title-track and “Prowl”. We stared long into the abyss and the abyss devoured us whole.
“The past has no power over the present moment.”
– Eckhart Tolle
As we barely came back to our senses, we were reminded of what brought us here in the first place. The past is just that, the past. What we experience, what we go through, what we live, serves only to teach us, to improve ourselves, to make us better and stronger. Ultimately, what matters is the now and only the now. A lifelong lesson and one that Yob are all too familiar with. We don’t need to talk about the specifics as most already know the story of how front man and mentor Mike Scheidt almost departed from this life but came back through sheer will and perseverance. Again, what matters is the now. And now, Yob were about the crush our minds.
Much like Wiegedood before them, Yob’s entrance onstage was done without any kind of deafening uproar. The crowd was too expectant to even dare make too loud a noise, as the anticipation ruled over them throughout the moment of transition. Without warning and without even the slightest breather, Yob pounded a sequence of two tracks, “Ablaze” and “The Screen”, from their latest record, Our Raw Heart, the first since Mike’s incident. That was proof enough for us that Yob was still a force to be reckoned with and maybe even more now than ever before.
After a devastating “Ball of Molten Lead”, a track from their The Illusion of Motion record, Mike Scheidt proceeds to move his thumbs around specific areas of his head and torso. The more casual observer would not have noticed but we recognized the gestures as Mike was opening his chakras, letting his energy flow free in his body. A sort of spiritual release, if you believe in that sort of thing. Esotericism and spirituality as a whole play a very important role in Yob’s music and Mike himself is a man that follows mantras of inner peace and well-being. Those beliefs and practices are evident in many of their songs.
With his arms up in the air, Mike lets out a growl and “The Lie That Is Sin”, from The Great Cessation, commences. The title-track of Our Raw Heart follows suit and we think that a more beautiful ending couldn’t exist. Oh, how wrong we were. At the request of some, two more songs were played and they were a treat. First off, Yob collectively invites Levy Seynaeve from Wiegedood to perform “Grasping Air”, which not only is a fan favorite but also is this reporter’s favorite Yob song. So I was pretty ecstatic and so was everyone else. The conjugation of Mike and Levy’s harsh vocals with Aaron Rieseberg’s doom-laden bass fills and Travis Foster’s incessant and majestic pummeling was impeccable. I talk very little of both Aaron and Travis but their contribution to Yob’s incredible sound is undeniable. Last but by no means least, we have the second treat, “Marrow”, a nearly 20-minute long track from their previous record, Clearing The Path To Ascend. Coincidentally, the last time they were on Portuguese soil, they finished their set with the very same song. And that was also in October, four years ago. But there are no coincidences, everything happens for a reason.
Enlightenment and ascension are the two main keywords of any Yob show, but tonight, recovery was also one of them. Not just for us, as we mentally regained our focus from the daily grind and the stresses of life but also for the band, as they ascertained themselves on a path that is as clear as the day sky: Yob is back and nothing will ever stop them from moving forward. And for that we are all blessed. Blessed to have such an incredible band formed by incredible people that continuously outdo themselves on every record and on every show. Yob truly is love.
Words by Filipe Silva
Photos by Marta Rebelo