Heavy Metal Wise Man

Mike Scheidt is adjusting to a new normal.

Mike Scheidt is adjusting to a new normal.

Last year the singer and guitarist with Eugene-based doom metal band YOB was diagnosed with acute diverticulitis, an infection of the digestive system. On the music blog Noisey, Scheidt described the pain of the condition “like being plugged into the light socket of all that is, a raw nerve ending of the universe.”

Since then, Scheidt’s been focused on recovery. He tells me over the phone he’s still not 100 percent. “I’m not sure what 100 percent is,” he quickly adds. “It’s sometimes worse than ever.”

Nevertheless, Scheidt says he’s grown through the trauma of the past year. “I don’t take time as a given,” he says. But this kind of beatific outlook has long been Scheidt’s style, and it can be heard in YOB’s meditative take on extreme metal music.

YOB songs are long and build slowly, Scheidt’s voice alternating between an almost-angelic higher register and a depths-of-hell roar. Dynamic and searching, the songs use the extremes of loud and quiet for interior journeys that can be enlightening as well as a little bit frightening.

This summer, YOB returns with a new album out on Relapse Records. “It’s the most diverse album we’ve done yet,” Scheidt says.

I ask Scheidt if he considers himself a spiritual person. “That word has been co-opted to the point it’s lost its mojo,” he responds. “I would like a relationship to this thing we’re plugged into that allows us to say we don’t believe in it.”

It’s one of the best articulations of a God-concept I’ve ever heard, but that’s Scheidt: a shaggy-haired and tattooed, denim-wearing, heavy-metal wise man. “We’re in a quite a predicament,” Scheidt comments of life in general.

Not to be taken too seriously, Scheidt quips of his band’s long song structures, “I’m just a long-winded asshole.” Describing his guitar playing, he says, “I’ve made enough mistakes to develop a style.”

Metal music allows Scheidt to explore some dark parts of his personality but ultimately leave them behind. “Music has a power to explore,” he says. “That’s what compels me when I see a band on stage.”

If fans want to come to a YOB show just to feel the noise and rock out, that’s OK, Scheidt says. If audiences are ready for a journey, YOB will guide them to the edge — but the edge, Scheidt warns, “is never reached.”

Following the release of the new record, YOB will embark on an ambitious tour of the U.S. and Europe. In the meantime, Scheidt and his bandmates — Aaron Reiseberg on bass and Travis Foster on drums — felt a local show was long overdue.

“We’ve been touring everywhere else,” he says. “When we’re home, we just want to be home.”

In planning their homecoming, Scheidt says YOB wanted to it a community event, so they picked WOW Hall to keep ticket prices low and the show all-ages.

YOB Plays with Maestus and Eugene grindcore act Paranoiac 9 pm Friday, Feb. 23, at WOW Hall; $8 advance, $10 door. All-ages. — Will Kennedy

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