Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Neurosis : " Fires Within"
One of the most important things I had to adjust in my expectations of this album was thinking that while they are certainly the pioneers of sludge metal, Neurosis is no longer really a metal band. They do eventually get heavy once the vocals kick in on "Bending Light" which opens the albums. They spend the first half of the song wandering around a dark and trippy landscape. These are sounds that please my ears, but it's not "Souls at Zero" or "Through Sliver and Blood". So if that is what you want then there is some acceptance that needs to take place as a listener. I think the direction they are headed on this album is truer to who they are as a band than the more Pink Floydian journey of "Honor Found in Decay".
There is a more post-rock feel to the beginning of " A Shadow Memory". Perhaps it doesn't find them coming down like the ten ton hammer they once hit us with, but it's still good music. I don't have to dig to far to find what it is about this album that is working for me. It's darker. For me I'll take dark in place of metal heavy on most days of the week. Darkness is it's own heaviness. Depression can be more crushing of an emotion than hate. It's not contrived just marked by a somber grimness even when they start rocking out toward the end of "A Shadow Memory". There is a more monolithic lumber that might not trample you like their earlier work, but is effective on "Fire is the End Lesson". It is rough around the edges in manner that is almost more grunge tinged than sludgey. It is different than anything I can recall the band doing in the more up-beat manner of it's tempo. It does evolve into the kind of heaviness that we remember them for.
There is a kraut rock like swelling of sound to the opening of "Broken Ground". Scott Kelly goes into his Tom Waits influenced croon. It does eventually build up into a heavier place, though I don't think it's done quite as effectively as it was on the previous song and by now we all know the soft to loud formula.The rock riff they lock into in cool stoner rock jam, but they have just proved to us on the first two songs they can do more than dial it in. But their dialing it in is better than the best most of the younger bands riding their apron strings can accomplish.
They close with the ten minute "Reach". Their use of sung vocals works much better here. This is more of a dark western inflected rock song. On a heaviness scale it leans more toward Screaming Trees. Musical things are more on the surreal and minimal side allowing the vocals to carry most of the weight.When it begins to drift off into a more atmospheric place it retains the virtue of doing this in a darker manner. A thick angular bass line helps to build it up in a heavier direction, that you had to expect. I'll round this one up to a 9 for now and see how it sits with me . If you are of the belief that this band can do no wrong, then that blind devotion will inspire you to round it up.