Review Summary: Neurosis reach the peak of their heavy sound with what is possibly the most powerful album I’ve ever heard.Chapter 5: When the Fallout Comes...
Right before this record, Enemy of the Sun
had signaled an evolution into more dynamic music and larger focus on the album as a whole. Their sound also began to introduce more ambience and sampling to add the already haunting atmosphere which showed a sign of experience. Now, fast-forward two years to April 23, 1996, we have Through Silver in Blood
. Just from the album cover, you know that this album is going to be heavy, thick, and frightening. The opening noise starts, and the album cover describes the feeling perfectly.
With this record, Neurosis have basically taken the sludge of Enemy of the Sun
and the progressive elements of Souls at Zero
and combined the two into an indescribable meld. Both atmospheres collide in the best way possible in order to make it sound like a cruel, freezing war. The dissonance is much more accentuated here, especially in the string sections. From the short noises that start the album, to the melodies in Purify, and in the cold, dark downward scale in the intro Aeon. Another interesting addition is the amount of extra percussion this time around, which was certainly hinted at on Enemy of the Sun
. There is the long intro to the title track, the swirling patterns of songs such as Eye and Aeon, and the fills that lead into the pain of Enclosure in Flame. The instrumentation makes for a very interesting record and it sure makes it scarier.
Lyrically, this album is very difficult to interpret. Everything is very poetic and dark, but it’s even scarier since you don’t know what’s going on. Atmospherically, the album invokes the chaos of Souls
and the dark forest of Enemy
. Combined, I interpret it as a war, as I stated before. This album also needs to be listened to as a whole since every song fades into one another for a truly hypnotic experience. If you play it song by song, it will feel incomplete and only like a slice. The two ambient transitions Rehumanize and Become the Ocean are good examples of this, since they are placed perfectly between tracks and add a bit of a break while staying frightening.
The chaotic atmosphere is perfectly accentuated by Billy Anderson’s production with his smooth, hypnotic style of mixing. Although Neurosis’s later producer Steve Albini is my favorite engineer, I don’t think he would’ve quite worked here. The album has a very natural feel to it, but it’s so incredibly layered in so many places so one might be able to dispute that. For every song, there is a strong layer of percussion, a wall of guitars and noise, some extra spices such as ambience or strings, and vocals that are mixed at the perfect volume which is a bit lower than the instrumentation. There is some sort of magic to this mix that I’ve never quite heard before, with everything sounding so human yet inhuman at the same time. Every mix sounds perfect with nothing buried being too low and the perfect clash between noise and ambience.
Overall, this is Neurosis’s heaviest record by far in terms of emotion, layers, and noise. In my opinion, this is tied with The Eye of Every Storm
for their greatest album, but they’re pretty much opposites on both sides of Neurosis’s sound. With Through Silver in Blood
, Neurosis have taken the heavy side of their sound as far as it could possibly go and the results are this monstrous album which still has yet to be heavier than anything I’ve ever heard. They’ve perfected the flow, the dynamics, the instrumentation, and atmosphere of their sound here. I could go on and on why this record is so amazing, but truthfully, it’s up to the listener to decide what it means to them. By the time you’ve reached the end, you feel like you’ve witnessed something indescribable. If you’re looking for something that is incredibly heavy, but manages to stay smart and conscious of itself, this will probably be for you. This will probably seem too dark or long for casual listeners, but if you have a lot of patience and an open mind, you’ll probably enjoy this. This isn’t metal to headbang to, this is metal to be meditated upon. In conclusion, this is the peak of Neurosis’s heavy side and the first truly classic album they made.