Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Neurosis: Honor Found in Decay

Twenty years ago when I heard "souls at zero" I became enamoured by how Neurosis mixed the cerebral sonics of a band like Swans with forward thinking metal like Voi Vod. A few years later my head was crushed by "through sliver and blood" and though the band wandered off into folky Tom Waits territory I have always respected what they do. In 2007 when the band released "given to the rising " it was good to hear them school the slew of sludge wanna bes which had sprung up.

"We all rage in blood" opens things up after its delicate build in the first minute and post rock feel In the way the verse drives is fairly straight forward for these guys. Scott Kelly's vocal stacks on a stacatto sneer as the song ebbs and flows. Not really heavy until the mammoth chords in the last two and a half mins.

The NPR streamed single "at the well " is the second songs . It is more long the lines of the bands post-times of grace output. Very slow tempo, with leonard Cohen esque vocals proceeding their trademark howl. After a few listens the eerie guitar line in the back ground made me appreciate this one more than my first listen which wasn't a fan of the tempo. Not that the almost doomy feel is anything new for these guys. The bag pipe break midway into this one is a nice color. I really like the vocal chant of in a shadow world seven minute mark leading into the build. The formula for the album seems to follow a pattern of brood into the song and explode into the climax in the last two to three minutes. Though even these heavier dynamic builds are not as heavy as anything before "times of grace" . Another point of Intrest is in the vocals which never go into the harshness of an all out growl, the restrain themselves to a howl and are maily sung in a throaty but forceful manner.

"my heart for deliverance" lingers in the intro like "set the controls for the heart of the sun" sort of thing before going into a oddly timed rumble of a shuffle. The drumming keeps it from being overly angular. It drifts off into post rock wonderland around the five minute mark before congealing through a blend of sampled dialogue into transcendent crescendo. The guitar line which leers out borders on psychedelic, though the vibe I get for the overall album is these guys don't smoke nearly as much pot as they used to.

"bleeding the pigs" is a blatant reminder that even after making the album with Jarboe they have not forgotten the earlier Swans albums. You would think such a wink at my favorite band would win me over no questions asked, but there is not the pay off a sonic eruption that a Swans song would really have.

"Casting of the ages" a very Mark Lanegan vocal line leads into the gradual build of this this one. It oozes into droning of smooth sludge, the humor keyboards provide a aural sheen over the molasses rolling under the vocal howl. Their lyrics have always had a veiled reference to hermetic mysticism, but on this song they come across more like Ronnie James Dio and seem a little recycled in their metaphoric imagery. they could have hovered around the bong a little longer before committing them tithe vocal booth or I could have stood to have smoked before listening and the lethargic swagger of this one would have floated me off the couch.

"All is found In time" things beging to get a little proggy, the drums go into the trademark tribal pattern Neurosis is know for before they even out into a straightforward Sabbath type thing. I have kept waiting to be crushed and it never really happens like a "locust star". This song does veer into very " no quarter" territory . I really like when the songs darkens up before getting King Crimson and
leaving you hanging.

"Raise the dawn" has the apocalyptic loom to it and the vocal phrasing Mastodon was imitating before they found there stash of Thin Lizzy albums.the swirl the ong decends into works for me evenif it doesn't really go anywhere.

In power and intensity I suppose it measures up with post "times of grace" material but doesnt rock as much as " Given to the rising" it is overall very middle of the road for these guys, while I understand they have mellowed with age it never goes to any extremes, committing to a more hypnotic drone might have give more challenge to the listener,I have been in debate about how to score this one because even thoughts not as heavy as I need it to be I do give them credit for expanding into some of the more post rock like sounds I hear on this album but the fact it's so Lukewarm dynamically irks me so I'll give this a 7.5 as they set the bar high for themselves and we know what they are capable of but whos to say it won't grow on me. If you don't know any better round it up a point.

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