Some say the weather in the Pacific Northwest breeds depression, and while this point may be up for debate, it is clear that the Northwest breeds an incredibly diverse array of heavy music. Eugene, Ore.’s YOB was one such bearer of music for the Northwest. A monolithic doom-metal outfit, YOB recorded some of the best heavy metal – of any genre – in years. Their sound was expansive and encompassing, down-tuned distorted guitars with vocals that ranged from interesting falsetto Ozzy-isms to guttural growls. YOB played long songs, most well over 10 minutes, without ever losing their focus. Almost directly after the release of 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived, YOB broke up, leaving many a fan heartbroken and wondering what new masters of doom metal would emerge.
Luckily, the end of YOB did not mean the end of music for the band’s various members. After the breakup the band splintered into various other musical forces, the most prominent of which is Middian. Middian went through assorted nominal incarnations (they played their first show under the moniker AGE), but their music has always been a continuation of the musical ideas presented in YOB, specifically dynamic doom metal. The core of Middian’s sound is very similar to the core of YOB’s sound – guitarist and vocalist Mike Scheidt’s songwriting. As the main musical force behind YOB, Scheidt wrote songs that hammered and crushed, and Middian’s music promises to do the same.
Playing with Middian are Olympia, Wash.’s black metal kings Wolves in the Throne Room. Wolves’ music is not simple – it doesn’t follow the strict formula of black metal bands of the past. There are moments of intense heaviness with buzzing guitars and screaming, but also moments of serene melodic darkness where quiet female singing invades the desolate landscape that Wolves in the Throne Room create.
The philosophies of Wolves in the Throne Room are somewhat typical of black metal bands, self-described as “anti-modern and anti-human, a musical expression of an emerging eco-black metal consciousness.” While I am not completely sold on their political philosophies (or how they reconcile those philosophies with being a band in the modern era), Wolves in the Throne Room should put on an interesting show.
Topping off this show of absolutely destructive bands is Portland, Maine’s Conifer. Named after a classification system for trees, Conifer’s music is completely oppressive and suffocating in its thick heaviness. Not a “true” doom band, Conifer still has many of the same elements. They play long songs of slow, de-tuned guitar dirges, but also utilize elements of thoughtful electronics and noise. Similar in musical scope to bands like Isis, Conifer is in the business of stretching how heavy metal is defined.
Middian, Wolves in the Throne Room and Conifer will be playing at Berbati’s Pan (10 S.W. Third Ave.) on Friday, June 2, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8.