Oregon based doom metal trio YOB has been in existence for nearly 20 years. Though mostly described as a doom act, they also explore various interconnected subgenres; psychedelic rock, stoner rock, stoner metal, blues metal, and sludge. This album remains confined within these descriptions but in no way is a regurgitation of past efforts.

I have acquired a bizarre emotional attachment to this band within the past year, especially the album "The Great Cessation." Things in life were changing rapidly and felt uncertain to me. YOB was a huge part of the soundtrack of my life for a few months in a period I will remember forever. I'm not sure if this was due to the content of the music or simply the backdrop against in which it was being played. Regardless, I had alot of time on the road to thoroughly digest YOB's back catalog and it certainly seemed to consistently grow on me.

"Clearing the Path to Ascend" fits perfectly into the YOB timeline. Emotionally heavy, but not in a straight forward sort of way. I sense this album was the result of song writing influenced by personal evolution, change and ultimately honesty. Musically the album is heavy and production remains similar to past efforts. There are only four tracks here but within them a great deal of territory is covered.

Straight forward riffs are largely replaced with beautifully semi-dissonant passages that press on for long periods of time. Each song evolves through it's lifespan and seems to continue building upon a single feeling and idea until it reaches the full effect before pulling you away and dropping you into another mental state. Your mind barely has time to comprehend what just actually happened before being led into another buildup or an instrumental passage. This album is not meant to be thrown on for a quick ride down the street. It's greatest impact would occur when you can dedicate an entire hour to letting it play through. I have a feeling these songs will feel even better during the winter and fall months.

I do miss the more "dark" and "straight forward" heavy riffs from Yob's past. Don't get me wrong, this album is heavy but simply in a different way. I just wish these newer territories being explored could have been combined with more of these previous elements.
I like the fact the songs are long and evolve slowly over periods of time but hoped for a bit more variation in each track. Maybe they are just so long that I forgot what was happening at the beginning anyway.

All in all, this is a fantastic album that I suggest you pickup. If you already like YOB you are in luck, they have not failed here. I will be honest though in stating I prefer the older albums to this one.