posted on 3/2007 By:
The premature death of Oregon doom dealers YOB was a serious bummer, especially as it came after the band had delivered a string of excellent albums capped off by 2004's The Unreal Never Lived. The silver lining was that mastermind Mike Scheidt announced right away that he’d be getting to work on a new project. It would have been easy for Scheidt to simply replace his departing rhythm section and continue on under the YOB moniker, so it’s admirable that he chose to close the book on that band and make a fresh start. Well, a fresh start of sorts, at least. As much as it will no doubt frustrate Scheidt, fans and critics will spend a lot of time comparing this band to his old one. Maybe that’s not completely fair, but when the rhythm section changes and the singer, guitarist, and creative force remains the same, it’s impossible to avoid comparisons, especially as the two bands are similarly aimed.
Truth is, Age Eternal would be entirely convincing as a YOB effort, albeit one that would represent a shift. And although such statements might bug Scheidt and Co., in the end it’s a win for band and listener both. Middian is cut from a similar cloth as YOB, but is far more direct, uptempo, and a bit less psychedelic, which means that not only are current fans going to find a lot to love here, but also that listeners who couldn’t quite sink their teeth into YOB are more likely to take to the more direct approach taken here. Although you might prefer one project over the other, it’s likely that you’ll be happy with both. In a way, this is almost reminiscent of the evolution Matt Pike made from Sleep to High on Fire.
Scheidt signals his intentions right off the bat with opener "Dreamless Eye", and if you thought tracks like "Quantum Mystic" and "Doom #2" were uptempo, you’re gonna be floored by the urgency and how absolutely crushing Middian is. "The Celebrant" is a similarly minded steamroller, while "The Blood of Icons" and the title track take a more epic approach. Both use lengthy guitar intros that build to more aggressive and uptempo sections. The former consists of sparse, echoing, guitar lines that yield to crawling, oppressive doom, while the latter is awash in a warm, trippy, chorus-rich picking pattern. Both are evidence that although Middian sheds much of the psychedelic tendencies of YOB, the band still retains some of the same cosmic aura. "Sink to the Center" is a vintage Scheidt album closing head-fuck marathon track, this one featuring ranting from Orange Goblin’s Ben Ward.
Age Eternal pushes the hour mark with five tracks all close to, or even well over, the ten minute mark, with the exception of "The Celebrant". New recruits Will Lindsay (bass/vocals) and Scott Headrick (drums) have debuted nicely and developed a solid framework for Scheidt’s monstrous, sky-scraping riffs and distinctive high/low vocal style. With YOB gone, Middian is every ounce of what one could hope for from Mike Scheidt, delivering the vast majority of what fans have come to love, as well as moving into some new territories. Age Eternal will reward fans as well as make new ones. Breakneck, gut-punching doom of the highest order, and an easy recommendation.
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