Neurosis nowadays is considered the perfect example of “post-metal”,a genre not everybody accepts. But before their glorious days, in the 80′s they released two Hardcore albums that were very much forgotten, especially when “Souls At Zero” came out. This album was a first approach to the sound that Neurosis still has today. In a way, “Souls At Zero” is the band’s second debut.
On this album Neurosis maintained some Hardcore influences, especially in the vocals, which never loose their intensity. But mostly, the sound is very much different. The band now incorporates heavier riffs, even though not quite sludgy yet, a very strong progressive influence, especially concerning the structure of these songs, but also noticeable in the instrumentation, which some times includes violin, flute, or sax. There’s also quite a lot of sampling, in almost every intro. I’ve heard a few people saying that Neurosis were influenced by King Crimson here, and you notice that at times, particularly when it comes to layer the sound in songs like the title track. But those experimental post-punk bands from the 80′s are a much heavier influence, like Prong but especially Swans (I do think Neurosis are the official heirs of the latter band). Of course, there is some Black Sabbath in the mix, otherwise it wouldn’t sound so dark and doomy at times.
“Souls At Zero” is a dark, mysterious piece of work, seminal for the forming of Sludge Metal and not only.
Indeed, “Souls At Zero” is a pretty dark, claustrophobic album, with dark melodies and a gloomy sound. But that’s the thing of this album, it never loses its intensity, even when the music quiets down and gets a little cleaner. Listening to this feels like being trapped in a sort of well, you’re calling for help but an angel comes to you and says “you’re on your own, it’s up to you to live or die”. The music is most of the time stretched out and repetitive, ironically, I do feel like maybe the shorter songs end unfinished, like if they were just too short. Neurosis is at it’s best with long songs, its a fact (exceptions later in their career will be made, and plenty of them).
These ten tracks have all good moments, some of them are fantastic; the build up of the opener “To Crawl Under One’s Skin” is just perfect, and a perfectly executed song as well, that incarnates the very essence of what this album is, along with the following track, “Souls At Zero”, another flawless track, mysterious, tense, that eventually gets heavy and very dark. Highlights are also “Stripped”, possibly the most progressive song here, or the hypnotic “Takeahnase”. A mention should be given also for “A Chronology For Survival” and “Sterile Vision” two really good tracks that are essential for the structure of the album.
Overall “Souls At Zero” is a dark, mysterious piece of work, but it’s also a seminal album for the forming of Sludge Metal and not only. If you are into that sort of experimental metal, this is a must, mostly because of its importance in creating the genre.
After the successful and amazingly done “Souls At Zero”, Neurosis takes a step forward with “Enemy Of The Sun” the following year with higher ambitions, but with a lot less effective results, unfortunately.
“Enemy Of The Sun” is a step forward because it is overall more experimental than the previous album, exploring a lot of new sounds; there’s more sampling, there’s a very interesting tribal vibe thanks to the more tom-focused drums, there’s a much wider and open sound, abandoning the claustrophobic feel in “Souls At Zero” and using effects such as reverb; this sound will be perfected with the following album “Through Silver In Blood”. However, besides these things, the music does have a lot of things in common with the previous album, thus it feels like “Enemy Of The Sun” is its natural continuation.
“Enemy Of The Sun” has high ambitions, but less effective results.
But this album does not have the exciting, ear-dragging feel I hoped for. As a matter of fact, I get bored after the first songs, which aren’t bad at all. The melodies just aren’t doing it for me most of the time, and the face-melting sound that Neurosis is so famous for is just not here, even though it attempts to be present. Even the instrumentation feels like its held down a bit, and the production isn’t really helping.
I cannot deny though that interesting moments are present, especially in the first half: the opener “Lost” is a mysterious, nine minute piece that is smothered in a pretty cool atmosphere, just like the even better track “Raze The Stray”, which features a beautiful female vocal in the intro and along some parts that follow. “Lexicon” is also an interesting track, probably the most hypnotizing song off the album. But the title track and “The Time Of The Beasts” don’t say much for me at all, and the final track “Cleanse”, which is fifteen minutes in some versions of the album, but I have the twenty six minute version, is just boring, wannabe tribal drumming that occasionally changes a bit, until it reaches the fourteenth minute, where an annoying vocal loop repeats itself for ten, unbearably long minutes.
Overall, the album is pretty good, but its barely saved by those few tracks in the beginning of the album; It has a few dull moments that I surely do not want to revisit for a while. I recommend it to the fans of the genre and of Neurosis, but not to anybody else.
I’ve thought of Neurosis as a band of the critics, not of the public. This band seems to be praised to death by the first, but they tend to be overlooked by the latter, or simply not as appreciated. People who like any type of metal that is experimental in any way are pretty young, that weren’t around or were not aware of liking it back in 1996, so a lot of people listen to “Through Silver In Blood” only after discovering that they love the genre, so when they listen to this, they might think that there’s nothing new to it. But, in 1996, this was revolutionary, and today we find it a lot less so because of its major influence. Thus it’s historical importance for some might precede the music itself. But doing so would be a huge mistake.
“Through Silver In Blood” can easily be defined as the greatest Sludge Metal album ever released.
Not everybody is comfortable with the existence of a genre such as “post-metal” ( I must admit I’m one of these), and rather define this as Sludge Metal, or even more precisely Atmospheric Sludge Metal. Lately I’ve seen this term use in a way that maybe wasn’t what I was expecting: bands like Blindead or Ghost Brigade, to name two, have a lot of cleanness to their sound and of course a lot of repetition. As far as Neurosis is concerned, Atmospheric Sludge Metal is everything but clean. As a matter of fact, this album is one of the most face- melting, ground shaking records ever recorded. The heavy, loud parts are full of layers, including some reverb, which very successfully make the sound huge. The tribal drums give a pretty effective apocalyptic feel too. “Through Silver In Blood” has a lot of differences from their previous efforts, it is a lot more progressive and mature in its nature, and the most well done yet. Only a few elements, like the vocal style, persist, but even these have changed a bit, it almost feels like it plays a second role to the music. But things are so much different now, it almost feels like this is a completely new band from the one that recorded “Enemy of The Sun” only three years earlier. The progressiveness in Neurosis’s masterpiece is highlighted with a genius use of sampling, unusual instrumentation (piano, bagpipes), strange metallic sounds and loops here and there, some nice, atmospheric moods that usually start a piece. From these moments, most of the times there is a phenomenon for which Neurosis is especially famous for: building, and climax. These songs start very slow, and have a beautiful crescendo that culminates with some of the most mind-blowing sound textures you’ll ever hear, to then ease down a little bit, and perhaps start another build up. A pattern that isn’t always respected (thank God), since each song is unique in its own way.
Listening to “Silver In Blood” can almost be considered a visceral experience, its like finding yourself in the middle of the ocean in the dark of night, the water is at first calm but it slowly starts to be more agitated, until a huge seaquake creates these enormous waves that go right at you, and your struggling to survive on your little raft. When you listen to this, everything around you seems to be melting, or that maybe an earthquake is taking place. There are many ways, as you can see, to describe this monster. The structure of the album is consistent, and the flow of the songs is just perfect.
The opening title track is a fantastic example of Neurosis new style, because of the layered sound, the samples, and the build-up. “Purify” is another long, perfect track, that has many parts, but all of them are majestically connected, the use of sampled loops here is perfect, and the surprising bagpipes at the end of the song give an unexpected touch of beauty. “Aeon” is another flawless Neurosis track, sounding, a bit different from the other two songs but still amazing. “Enclosure In Flame” is a very unusual way to finish an album; for ten minutes you listen carefully, thinking that the song will explode, but, even if it gets really close to doing so, there never really is a complete build up. “Strength Of Fates” has probably the most astonishing build up ever; from almost unperceivable sounds they arrive to a massive wall of sound, that kicks in at around seven minutes, and goes on for the remaining two minutes. The shorter songs are amazing as well; “Locust Star” has become a classic song for Sludge Metal”, and “Eye”, even though underrated, blows me away every time with its massively thick sound. Even the two interludes, that are basically puzzles of samples, are very well done, and their job perfectly.
I literally have no complaints about “Through Silver In Blood”. This is easily my favorite Sludge Metal record ever, and one of my favorite album of all time. If you’re into metal in general, this album is absolutely essential.
“Times Of Grace” is the fourth album of seminal Sludge Metal band Neurosis, the follow up to the masterpiece of theirs and even of the genre as a whole, “Through Silver In Blood”. It is quite hard after such a release to keep the expectations as high. But “Times Of Grace”, even though it is not as good, is a fantastically executed release, that many people controversially consider their ultimate masterpiece, but I do see why some would love this album as much as these fans do.
Abandoning the huge, smothered reverb of “Silver In Blood”, ToG has a much more rough, distorted, sludgy sound, but also more straightforward and maybe not quite as ambitious. The result of this is a claustrophobic sound that is just as scary as the previous album. But the experimentation is very present, with again some unusual instruments for metal here and there, as well as some strange sound effects that accompany the songs, most of them unrecognizable samples. Guitar effects also abound quite a bit, but in a much different way from TSiB.
“Times Of Grace” is the most spiritual, mystical, but also the most abrasive Neurosis album yet.
I’ve always noticed in Neurosis’s music this distorted, almost spiritual feel that makes the band so special sounding; starting from “Souls At Zero”, the band always were writing music as it seemed like it was intended to be the soundtrack of a shamanic ritual of native people from South America or something. A very primitive and visceral feel is always felt in their music, but I do think this album in particular is somewhat more spiritual and mystic.”Times Of Grace”, because of its sound, is an immensely proud album, that always keeps heads up. however, it has its humble moments,meaning moments of shattered beauty, that surprise the listener very much. But these calmer moments are really dreadful and dramatic sounding, in a good way; the vocals of Scott Kelly, are and have always been full of pain, and on this album he proves it like he never did before. The album is quite solid, the more straight- forward structure of the tracks make this characteristic very easy to detect; there are definitely less-build ups, thus most of the time they start fierce and go straight to the point, but of course exceptions are always made. This album remains quite atmospheric because of the experimentation surrounding it and the always used repetition, and so Atmospheric Sludge Metal once again is a great and accurate way to define Neurosis’s music.
The songs for me are almost always great, starting from “The Doorway”, probably the most intense and abrasive song here. “The Last You’ll Know” might be my favorite of the album, its also the most epic track here, and quite possibly the most beautiful too, while “Belief” is the essence of Sludge Metal and the most atmospheric track, and “Away” is comparable to “Strength Of Fates” from their previous album, being a huge build up to a quite intense piece that takes place only in the last few minutes. The title track is also a powerful and crunchy song that is worth mentioning. Even the interludes are very well done, and should not be underrated; they’re always somewhat hypnotic, and very interesting in their nature.
A splendid release, something that is essential to listen to if you’re into Sludge Metal. One of Neurosis’ most personal albums, full of character and spirit, and that sometimes all you need for an album to work.
With “A Sun That Never Sets” Neurosis start to go on a slightly different path than the one of their second period (from “Soul At Zero” to “Times Of Grace”), reaching to a third period that will end with the last album “Given To The Rising”. Maybe some die-hard fans of “Through Silver In Blood” will get a little turned off by this 2001 release, and even more with “The Eye Of Every Storm” in 2004, but in truth ASTNS is one of the greatest releases of this legendary band.
The reason this album could turn off fans is because it’s simply more experimental, more calm and atmospheric, and the sludgier moments are put a little aside. Sampling is still present, but they got a lot weirder sounding, and also the more electronic sounds are much more well done than their previous albums. Here Neurosis almost sounds like a prog band, even though they’ve always shown plenty of influences of such kind. In some moments the music gets even a little orchestral ( Times Of Grace had some moments such as these though), so with all these characteristics you can clearly see it’s a somewhat unusual Neurosis album.
While “Times Of Grace” and “Silver In Blood” felt like in-your-face, enormous beasts, ” Sun That Never Sets” is the huge, slow-moving guardian of the endless fire sparks, that keep alive the distant skies of the darkest heaven you can imagine . It’s an alarmed album, that seems like it’s always tense and looking for something, and when it does see something, a doomy riff will explode and again melt your face like Neurosis usually does.
“A Sun That Never Sets” is the huge, slow-moving guardian of the endless fire sparks that keep alive the distant skies of the darkest heaven.
The unusualness of the album is clear from the starting notes of “Tide”; when ever has Neurosis started an LP in such a calm, mysterious way? I loved the fact that “A Sun That Never Sets” begins like this, ), so disturbingly quiet ( even though this track does start after the intro, that gives in my opinion a lot of hype for the following piece). Eventually the song explodes into a nice sludgy riff, that would give a smile to every die-hard fan. The album has no low points, all the songs go from good to great; “From The Hill” is the follow up to “Tide”, an interesting song with an interesting structure, and some great riffs here and there. The title track has one of the coolest effects Neurosis has ever come up with, it really gives an eerie atmosphere to the track. Other highlights are “Crawl Back In”, a somewhat tenser, more mysterious and calmer song, and the final near ten minute epic “Stones From The Sky”, a perfect ending to this album, with a dramatic, epic tone to it. “Falling Unknown” seems to be highly regarded also; one of the band’s longest songs (clocks around thirteen minutes), it is majestically structured, mainly in two parts, both of these have outstanding build-ups that culminate in outstanding bursts. The shamanic “From Where It’s Roots Run” and the constantly vigilant “Watchtower” are also really good pieces that have to be mentioned.
This seventh effort for Neurosis is one of the best examples of Atmospheric Sludge Metal, it has a perfect balance between the calm and the aggressive. An album recommendable to any metal fan, a great listen that if you’re a fan of such music you’ll very most likely love.
Recognized as one of the the greatest metal bands of the past twenty years, Neurosis didn’t have to prove much, but they once again proved that they’re the kings of Sludge Metal, with 2004′s “The Eye Of Every Storm”, eight years after “Through Silver In Blood”. This 2004 release is in my book the second part of the trilogy that concludes Neurosis’s career, the first part being “A Sun That Never Sets” and the last one “Given To The Rising”. There is a small release in the middle of the trilogy, but I tend to forget about it.
In 2001 the band had significantly changed direction in their sound, going for a more experimental approach, using more interesting sounds and samples and turning down the volume. “The Eye Of Every Storm” continues towards that path, using less strange sounds and focusing much more on the guitar textures, very frequently clean. Of course in both these albums Neurosis manage to get pretty darn heavy, but not as much as they did in the earlier days. Also, I couldn’t help noticing that on this more recent release they are less build-ups, and more atmosphere. Clean, undistorted atmosphere, it almost sounds like Post- rock most of the time. The vocals are less aggressive, but still have a rough delivery, sounding frankly like a sort of animal that is whispering in pain. I’m not crazy about this kind of singing, I rather hear Scott Kelly burst in rage like he did previously. The songwriting is good, and the structure of these songs seems a little sparse but very stretched out, almost like if the ideas were all floating around in a pretty long fragment of time, as if they were echoing endlessly in space, dissonantly.
“The Eye Of Every Storm” is a dissonantly melodic, meditative, and thought-provoking experience.
Dark tones are pretty much dominant, thanks also to the samples, which are much less used but when they are they play a great role. There’s a good handful of repetition, which seems to overcome the climaxes, and in this way it still manages, once again, to be an Atmospheric Sludge Metal release for Neurosis. However this way the tracks always are at the same tone, without increasing it or decreasing it, which makes the listen a little flat at times. The distortion is very present and is inevitable to miss, as it has a more ambient use to it, so again we have another factor that makes “The Eye Of Every Storm” particularly influenced by Post-Rock.
But these songs are never boring. They always manage to be very fascinating sounding, even though after a while the album gets a little too long for this kind of music. Even some of the songs are a little too stretched out; the title track to me is decent but nothing more, and it goes on for what seems like forever. The other epic song “Bridges” is much more interesting and fascinating, with great sampling and electronics. There are songs, though, that build, “No River To Take Me Home” and even more in “Bridges In The Sky”, both very good tracks. The songs in the core of the album are good as well, they have certainly their moments. But the closer “I Can See You” is a dreadful song, the song that has the most emotion, that is probably the most mysterious as well.
This album may not be a good introduction to the band, but it is a great release for Sludge Metal, a definite must if you like this genre, and also an essential addiction to any Neurosis fan.
Finally we reach to the end to Neurosis’s career so far, “Given To The Rising”, the final chapter of the final trilogy. I had pretty high expectations for this, even though I was noticing it didn’t get such great feedback. I gave it a few spins, and I was unfortunately a little disappointed by it, it did not have the good qualities I expected it to have.
Post Metal is a label I never liked, I always found good alternatives. But with “The Eye Of Every Storm” and even more with this one, this choice is harder to maintain. It’s, sure, the usual Atmospheric Sludge Metal, but it’s hard to not fall also into Post-Rock territory in some of these songs. While in the last couple of albums the band has got much more experimental and open towards Post-Rock textures, “Given To The Rising” is much heavier than those releases, more aggressive, more distorted. It has many beastly moments that are gigantic sounding. The building is much more frequent than in “The Eye Of Every Storm”, which leads to one word; nostalgia. I’m guessing that Neurosis wanted to make with this album the “Through Silver In Blood” of the 00′s, but the result is not at all as good. The experimentation here is brave, the sounds the band uses to fill in the music is very fascinating and cool, and that’s one of the best elements this album has going for. It’s obviously a pretty ambitious album, even more than the previous effort, but everything here feels so tired and forced, it’s like Neurosis are using the same exact formulas they usually use on every album before this.
“Given To The Rising” is the table of contents of Neurosis’s career
Maybe this is the time when Neurosis is the past, and the bands that feel influenced by them are the future. It would be kind of nice for this to be their last album, I feel like it’s a sort of summary of everything the band has done: ambience, heavy distortion, raging vocals, repetition, build ups, strange samples, Post-rock, Sludge Metal, Progressive. Imagine the band’s career as a book; the previous albums are chapters, “Given To The Rising” is the table of contents.
But enough of the bad talk: there are many moments here that are truly worth the time, like “Hidden Faces”, great hook and good structure, “Water Is Not Enough”, a heavy, strange song. Good moments are present also in the title track, another heavy song, the more experimental “Distill”, and the final epic “Origin”, eleven towering minutes that are very well put together.
A decent album overall, even though it does lack of a few essential elements such as originality. But it has enjoyable moments that a Neurosis fan like me would gladly listen to.