Neurosis
Times of Grace


4.3
superb

Review

by JohnnyoftheWell STAFF
December 23rd, 2012 | 317 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Another chapter of a fascinating discography

Back when Times of Grace dropped, Neurosis’ discography was already a force to be reckoned with; with the the chilling Souls at Zero, the disconcertingly brutal Enemy of the Sun and the colossal Through Silver in Blood under their belt, their legacy was well on its way. The evolution between these three albums ties in nicely to Times of Grace; Neurosis had beefed their sludge up to its most crushing on Through Silver In Blood and were displaying an increasing focus on contrasting dynamics and non-metal instrumentation. The band's logical next step was to push further with these elements, and so they delivered Times of Grace.

From the first few seconds of the opener "Suspended In Light", it's clear that the band's polarity of ominous foregrounding and crushing apexes is less prominent here; the track introduces an ambience that floats liminally rather than building to anything in particular. For all intents and purposes an interlude track, it may seem like an inappropriate synecdoche, but it's a cogent first taste of the atmosphere at work here. Highlight track "Under the Surface", for instance, goes through classic Neurosis churnings and climbings and climaxings in a manner that may seem familiar section-by-section, yet the band make their way through the track far more smoothly and organically than anything they had touched thus far. The way they scale back their sense of contrast does mean that Times of Grace takes a long time to adjust to as a first-timer, even by the standards of Neurosis albums, but anyone who successfully pinpoints the album's landscape will find it richly rewarding.

This is in part due to the sheer diversity of tones and ideas at work here, from the all-out chugfest of "The Doorway" to the strained tension of "Belief" to the disarmingly peaceful soundscapes that prop up "Away"'s lullaby-esque verses. Neurosis sound more prepared than ever to flesh out their palette, and they support this vision with mature arrangements and uniformally focused songwriting; Times of Grace may be a halfway house between Through Silver In Blood's peaks and valleys and A Sun That Never Sets' ebbing and flowing, but it avoids the awkward starts and teething marks typically associated with transitional albums. To this end, the band benefitted from the production talents of Steve Albini, whose engineering and layering is exemplary in its clarity, and from the discipline to confine many of this project's most experimental accents to the accompanying disc Grace, credited to Tribes of Neurot. Many will attest to the enhanced experience of listening to both discs in parallel, but regardless of which configuration is ultimately superior, it's easy to admire Neurosis' reticence against overstuffing one disc with every idea at their disposal.

In many ways, this album rivals The Eye of Every Storm as the smoothest start-to-end journey in the Neurosis canon; linked by a set of individually compelling interludes and a lingering sense of apocalyptic greyscale that no-one else captures quite like Neurosis, continuity is very much the name of the game here. My one reservation is that the second half lacks the same stakes as the first; after the quite frankly fearsome combination of "The Doorway", "Under the Surface" and "The Last You'll Know", the band largely shed their claws and explore softer territory until the apocalyptic title track hauls things to a close. This makes sense as a runoff, and the album certainly never lets go of its early momentum, but it's hard to shake an overall sense of top-heaviness. As shortcomings go, this is hardly grave; Times and Grace may play the majority of its stunners early on, but it adjusts its footing time and time again with a distinct kind of sluggish dexterity, never losing itself in the density of its soundscapes. A highlight for Neurosis.



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4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
chrisggib (4)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2012


60513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Neg away, I actually put some thought into this one

DominionMM1
December 23rd 2012


21116 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pos'd. good record.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2012


60513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Cheers bro

Relinquished
December 23rd 2012


48751 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review man. I always thought (even if you neglected to mention) Steve Albini did a wonderful job adding all the details from all the instruments. this also feels that this was partly made for live shows and to get their name more out there, evident from the instrumentals/interludes and short lengths.

Relinquished
December 23rd 2012


48751 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ovcourse

oltnabrick
December 23rd 2012


40674 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Troy Sanders said that without this album there would be no Mastodon.



How u feel about that Potsy?

oltnabrick
December 23rd 2012


40674 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

U getting feeling yet?

oltnabrick
December 23rd 2012


40674 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah good choice

oltnabrick
December 23rd 2012


40674 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah u shuld



I can't for it

oltnabrick
December 23rd 2012


40674 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good, I will pos it 4sure

dosia
December 23rd 2012


75 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Might be their best.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2012


60513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

@snox yeah, they're not exactly cons to me either, but since I don't consider them benefits and I was short of genuine cons, I threw them in

Thanks for the pos

Minus.
December 23rd 2012


2747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, great album.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2012


60513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

:]

Dreamflight
December 23rd 2012


2205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awsome review johnny.



Agree with everything except Under the Surface will always be the standout track for me.



JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2012


60513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Thanks bro, I like Under the Surface, but not as much as the 4 tracks I singled out

Firestarter
December 24th 2012


278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great album, great review. Personally this is only marginally behind TSIB for me, so hoping one day it gets a 5 review, but I agree with everything this one says. One of the harder Neurosis albums to get into, but a great pay off if your patient

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
December 24th 2012


60513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

For me it's on par with Souls, just behind TsiB

eggsvonsatan
December 24th 2012


1087 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Arguably their best.

DominionMM1
December 24th 2012


21116 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hoping they reissue this on vinyl in the near future. need it to complete my collection.



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