Review Summary: Through Silver In Blood is the loudest and most ferocious album by Neurosis, and in my humble opinion, their finest. Of course, that means it's fucking amazing.
The dust stirred up by a thousand boots rises slowly into the murky brown sky. The eternal march has drowned out the inherent color of the sky, a welcoming pale blue. Instead, the air has taken on a sickly brown pallor similar to that of the drought ridden desert through which the army marches. The soldiers in this massive army have long since lost all capacity for intelligent thought; the endless journey has dulled their senses and their interest in the world around them. If they were capable of advanced thought, however, they would almost certainly feel sickening terror at the prospect of their imminent death. Although the army they are a part of is massive, they know the forces they march to face are much larger. The only solace they can find is in the fact that even as they fight and die, a new generation of warriors is maturing in their hometowns. A brief lull may ensue after their defeat, but eventually, their children will take up arms and continue the eternal battle.
Through Silver In Blood is the soundtrack to a war. Not the glamorous, glorified war that bands like Manowar and Bolt Thrower portray, but rather the true, gritty, horrific essence of war. The thunderous climaxes are portrayals of the ferocious battles, and the ambient lulls are a representation of the uneasy calm between the killings. In Through Silver And Blood, Neurosis explored the heavy aspect of their sound, and took that specific element as far as it could possibly go. Never again would Neurosis be this heavy, or convey emotions of such intense hopelessness. The power of Neurosis is simply tectonic, complete with doomed out riffs, slightly distorted bass playing, berserk tribal drumming, eerie electronic additions, and tortured shrieking that sometimes consists of three different vocal tracks at once. All of that chaos is drenched in a layer of thick, fuzzy sludge. But full blast assaults are only one part of the rather typical post metal formula that Neurosis utilizes, which consists of uneasy ambience followed by jarring noise. The ambient sections of Through Silver In Blood are excellently done, even if they are not extremely interesting in and of themselves. Instead, they serve to create tension and apprehension. They are very bleak and thin, but at the same time convey a definite feeling of unease. On occasion during these ambient parts, Neurosis creates harmonies that are intentionally discordant. This is demonstrated during the eerie opening to Purify, where the piano melody and the string melody are intentionally disharmonious. While this may sound like a bad idea, it works to perfection in the sense that it keeps the listener on edge and attentive.
Through Silver And Blood is definitely meant to be listened to as a whole. If singled out, the individual songs are interesting in the sense that the climaxes are powerful and the ambient sections are well done, but if listened to together, the stubborn repetition of specific motifs makes for a hypnotic listening experience. Take, for example, the album opener. The main sludgy riff built on sustained chords is repeated so many times that it mesmerizes the listener. Just when the listener is about to break out of their reverie, Neurosis shift gears. It seems like each musical passage on this album is played for the exact right amount of time; long enough to mesmerize the listener, but not to the point in which it becomes boring. Because of this unerring precision, Neurosis manage to sneak in a few odd aspects that would wade through cheese on another album, but only serve to further the ominous, hypnotic mood here. The spoken word passage that is Rehumanize, if listened to by itself, sounds incredibly stupid. But placed between the hypnotic title track and the ferocious Eye, it is nothing short of scary.
Although I said Through Silver In Blood was meant to be listened to as a whole. I do have some favorites among the nine tracks on here. The title track is an obvious standout, steadily crescendoing right off the bat into a crushing seven minute section made up of only two different riffs. Interesting variations are added and subtracted to these riffs with subtlety, such as the gradual incorporation of a chugging section into the first riff, supplanting what was at first a sustained chord. Locust Star is perhaps my favorite, if only due to the fact that the last minute is probably the most intense minute of music I have ever heard. Locust Star is also excellent lyrically, with lyrics that sardonically reference religion while managing to be poetic. Aeon is the final favorite of mine, for several reasons. First off, the melancholic funeral march to open the song is easily the best ambient passage on the album. The climax to the song is, of course, extremely intense, with a riff that speeds along and locks into a deep groove with the drumming. What makes this climax special is the way an ambient synthesizer passage gradually takes the forefront, while the riffage fades to the back. This transition takes about four minutes, and is a very interesting experience.
If you are on the fence about post metal, and wondering whether or not the genre has enough action to keep your attention, I urge you to check out this album. Through Silver And Blood is the best post metal album I have ever heard, as well as one of my all time favorites. Through Silver In Blood is blasting intensity coupled with chilling ambient passages, packaged together into songs that are unique and engaging. Truly, this is one of the most powerful albums I have ever heard.