First things first. Neurosis at this point in their career have already established themselves as gods of post-metal. And one of the things that makes them great is their willingness to experiment. Going into this album one has to take this into consideration, that Neurosis are adding a female vocalist to the mix who has quite a different background than they do (see Swans, World of Skin), especially with her solo work. That established, I can begin my review of this experiment.
The instrumentation is (like most Neurosis albums) very dark, and in this case, rather minimal. It creates a rather bleak, lonely atmosphere, which is heightened by the slow tempo of most of these songs. These aspects of the album don't stray too far from Neurosis' style, and the band is able to deliver a good musical punch as always. The bonecrushing guitar and bass of many Neurosis albums are not present here, instead, Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till showcase their guitars mainly through somber, methodical, and sometimes dissonant clean and acoustic melodies (the best examples are "Taker" and "Recieve"), and Dave Edwardson's bass is hardly featured, although not unnoticable. The distortion is not completely gone, but it is used rather sparingly when used at all. The percussion is just Jason Roeder doing his usual routine in a more subdued manner, and listening to "Within"and "In Harm's Way" serves as a reminder that the tribal beats are not a thing of Neurosis' past. The electronics and keys of Noah Landis are brought out as a change of pace. It shifts the musical color of the band to a slightly more Tribes of Neurot tinged sound. Overall a good showing from the band behind the vocals.
Now, I am not very familiar with Jarboe and her work, but I have very mixed feelings about her singing. The first spoken word on "Within" is very off-putting, the southern televangelist vibe just doesn't make sense. And Jarboe's screams are just ever so slightly annoying. Not to say they're bad, they just don't have that masculine underbelly that fits so well over the Neurosis sound, and when pushed past their own limits, the vocals sound as if someone is actually screaming in pain ("Erase"). However, Jarboe's clean vocals are quite pleasant, and make more sense than any other style that was used on this album by Jarboe. She has a nice vibrato, and her range is a very good one to be used on a Neurosis album.
In the end though, despite a good instrumental performance, and a few good moments by Jarboe, most of the album is sullied by vocals that really don't make much sense at all. Neurosis and Jarboe (the album) is a good musical idea, but it just falls short in execution.
Standout Tracks - "Taker", "Recieve"