Splitting from the past and delivering what should have been
When two-third of Oregon based doom act trio Yob decided to split in July 2005 (Two months prior to the release of their critically acclaimed fourth album The Unreal Never Lived), it left vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt with the dilemma of either replacing the departed members of the band (Namely bassist Isamu Sato and drummer Travis Foster in this case), or whether to forge ahead with an entirely new project.
After much contemplation, Scheidt announced in January 2006 that he would lay Yob to rest after ten years of existence and move on with a new group, and after a couple of false starts (Where they were previously known as Age and Hadean Dusk), Scheidt finally unveiled his new act Middian.
Sticking again with the trio format (Scheidt is joined by vocalist/bassist Will Lindsay and drummer Scott Headrick), Scheidt's new project Middian doesn't stray too far from where Yob last left off in regards to playing within the doom/heavy stoner rock genre, but that's not to say that the band's debut Age Eternal picks up exactly where Yob's last release left off. Instead, Middian takes a heavier, faster and overall darker approach to the doom sound, giving the band an entirely new sound.
Clocking in at a lengthy nine and a half minutes, Dreamless Eye is the first song on the five track album to show the shift in direction Scheidt is making with Middian, with the immediate impact of the decidedly faster and more up-tempo based song writing an obvious shift in style over Yob. The dual vocal approach from Scheidt (Both clean and screaming efforts) is well utilised and far more varied sounding, while the music itself, apart from being more direct, brings together Neurosis like atmospheric passages, heavy doom/drone pockets and faster clutches of heavy riff rock without a single yawn inducing moment throughout it's long running time. The Celebrant (The shortest track at just over six minutes) is similar to the opening track with its quicker pacing and rocking riff ensembles, while The Blood Of Icons and the title track Age Eternal focus more on sparse/crushing atmospherics and darker/heavier tones than anything else on the album.
Closing up the album is the mammoth (Not to mention fantastic) fashion is the sixteen-minute epic Sink To The Center, which quite literally starts out with harrowing dirge of guitar noise and scathing vocal attacks, before spiralling into militaristic doom march featuring a rambling and incoherent guest appearance from Ben Ward (From U.K. stoner outfit Orange Goblin) on vocals.
If you were a fan of Yob, then Middian's debut will no doubt likely come as a surprise departure from what you would expect, but in a good way. For those who struggled to see what all the fuss about Yob was, then Age Eternal may just be the album that will clarify and live up to some of the past hype.
(Metal Blade Records/Stomp Records Distribution)