Nobody in metal right now is as qualified as Yob frontman Mike Scheidt to write an album this hypnotically beautiful and deeply peaceful, or this existentially violent with such a breathtaking resolution to serenity. Mainly because Scheidt nearly didn’t live to write the album.
Scheidt was diagnosed with acute diverticulitis in November 2016 and dealt with the diagnosis appropriately. In January 2017, he tells Noisey he began feeling ill one day but opted not to go to a medical clinic. Instead, he went grocery shopping. Scheidt recalls standing in the deli meat aisle and experiencing world-distorting pain and cold sweats, which resulted in a trip to the ER. After “the next wave of pain hit me harder than anything that has ever has hit me in my lifetime up to that point,” Scheidt was immediately admitted and pumped full of ineffective Dilaudid. Then the diagnosis came – a diverticula had burst. Had the Yob frontman waited another day to go to the doctor, he would’ve died.
Scheidt began to heal in the hospital without surgery, but upon transitioning back to consuming liquids for the first time since his admittance, the pain returned in droves. Now surgery was imminent. The procedure took seven hours and Scheidt came out on the other side alive with a long road to recovery ahead of him. Not long into his healing process shortly after the surgery, Scheidt suffered from a serious MRSA infection from which he would also recover. Once back on his feet, literally and musically, Scheidt began the process of forming Our Raw Heart.
Scheidt likens his near-death experience to a hard drive crash. “Some things just didn’t come back. Others came back in completely different ways. Others are still there but my perspective is completely different. I live in a different world now, and all of that went into this album—new insight, a new sense of self.” He tells Matt Bacon of Metal Injection that he’d been messing with DADGAD tuning on guitar post-surgeries, learned bouzouki, and took the time to expand upon his clean singing voice. In essence, Mike Scheidt is a different man now, and only from that renewed sense of self can come such an album as Our Raw Heart.
Scheidt won’t reveal the lyrical meanings of Our Raw Heart, but the album seems to musically mimic his experience in the past year and a half. The 10-minute opening salvo of “Ablaze” slowly unfurls its blistering pain in a haze of swirling, distorted reverberations. “Ablaze” keeps a steady 6/8 time and evokes feelings of spiraling downward as if it were the closing track to Our Raw Heart, summarizing all the grief and woe into one final tolling of the funeral bell before only silence remains. The following song “The Screen” is more immediate in its delivery. Scheidt and company have stepped out from the veils of sustain found on “Ablaze” and revealed chugging Gojira-styled riffs accompanied by bouts of lumbering dissonance.
Then there’s “In Reverie” and “Lungs Reach.” Both start off quietly tip-toeing in the background of soft ambiance and gentle waves of distortion, but neither stay in such a state for very long. “In Reverie” brings even more of the discordant guitar work “The Screen” originally displayed, but Scheidt relies on Warrel Dane-esque cleans in slow motion throughout the track rather than raspy screams. “Lungs Reach” is even slower, even more droning, and by far the most pissed off Our Raw Heart gets. Scheidt is bellowing growls into the abyss at full force and despite the lack of speed, the trio is following up those guttural displays of anguish with just as much fury and uncompromising force as they possibly can.
From the dark reaches of the void the first four tracks of Our Raw Heart spiral into comes an expanding pinpoint of light. “Beauty In Falling Leaves” marches through the nothingness bearing hope and lanterns burning rich with purpose. Close your eyes while listening to “Beauty In Falling Leaves.” In its aural tapestry, morning slowly unfurls from a rising sun and burns away the darkness and dew. It’s the dawning of a new day, a new life. Maybe that’s not what Scheidt intended, but “Beauty In Falling Leaves” is just too powerful a song not to make you feel something.
On “Original Face,” Yob seems to reverse what was happening on “Ablaze.” The latter felt like the closing moments of a life while the former takes that same sound, strips away the fogginess of its distant production style, and incorporates more positive-sounding melodies in the vein of “Beauty In Falling Leaves.” Finally, there’s the title track of the album to close things out.”Our Raw Heart” employs the hazy brushstrokes of “Ablaze,” but brings forth more meditative melodies with heavily delayed acoustic guitars and towering vocals. From death to rebirth to life, Our Raw Heart comes full circle in a breathtaking climax.
Yob‘s approach to all the aforementioned moods throughout Our Raw Heart is very much rooted in their usual heaviness. Our Raw Heart is a unique record in Yob‘s catalog, but it’s not going to isolate fans or make you double check who you’re listening to. Moreso than anything else, Our Raw Heart will completely floor you. It’s a masterwork that couldn’t have come from anywhere else but the torment, the fear, and the rebirth and swelling heart of one Mike Scheidt.
Buy Our Raw Heart here.