Review Summary: Neurosis expand on the symphonic element of their sound which results in their most mellow effort yet, while retaining the heaviness emotionally.Chapter 7: Resound
Music has always had multiple important aspects to it, whether it be emotion, musicianship, the ability to relate to, etc. While these are all important in certain aspects in music, nothing is more important in music for me than atmosphere. Whether it be the trippy, happy atmospheres of bands like the Flaming Lips, the hateful atmosphere of Eyehategod, or the crazy atmosphere of bands like Mr. Bungle. While these are all very enjoyable to the human ear on occasion, the most interesting atmosphere to me is an epic one. Bands such as Opeth, King Crimson, or any other progressive rock band pull this off quite well, but few bands do it with such minimalism as Neurosis. They’ve been known to play with progressive rock elements quite a bit, but certain albums of theirs just use so little and achieve so much. By far the best example of this in their discography is A Sun That Never Sets
Neurosis has always had a sense of epic to their music with albums such as Souls at Zero
or Through Silver in Blood
coming to mind in particular. The big difference between those and this record though is the fact that A Sun That Never Sets
is far more simple. The sound is less likely to use as many synths or bizarre instrumentation. Although, they do use horns and strings quite a bit throughout this record, but this was already a bit of a common factor for the band. The other big difference is the amount of repetition throughout the songs. This may sound like a bad thing, but it has the epic feel of bands such as Swans or Isis in the way that the more they play a certain progression, the more tension is built. Take for example Stones from the Sky, which near the end uses one set of notes and repeats them for about four or five minutes. While this might sound boring, it builds such an epic feel with such little change. Or the ending to Falling Unknown, where the same line is repeated while the instrumentation slowly reaches a peak of loudness and suddenly backs out. Things like this make for a rather unique listen.
Whereas Times of Grace
served as the stepping stone for this release, there are still elements of their past heaviness. There are still some heavy riffs in songs such as The Tide, Stones from the Sky, and From the Hill, but they are used rather sparingly. The platter of instrumentation is rather large this time around, but everything is used in a different way than the way bands such as King Crimson or Yes would use them. I mentioned the idea of minimalism is used quite a bit here, but there are loads of other influences scattered throughout. Whether it be the Swans influence that runs rampant throughout nearly every track, the Hank Williams influenced vocals on certain songs, or the large Joy Division influence on the instrumentation. Lyrically, they sound even more mature this time with influence coming in from poets such as Jack London, as well as writers such as the great Cormac McCarthy. This could almost be described as The Road
set to music if you think about it.
So, overall Neurosis have taken a bit of a step out of their comfort zone this time around. But, is this one of their masterpieces? Well, yes and no. For one thing, it certainly accomplishes what it’s going for, which is a heavy, yet light Neurosis record. But, certain aspects could be improved upon. For instance, on the intro track Erode, the sounds they use seem a bit campy. Another minor flaw is the clean vocals aren’t as good as they were on other releases, but they are still effective. Other than flaws like this, this record certainly exceeds expectations. Some people claim this record is far too boring, but my guess is that most of the people that make this claim aren’t fans of Swans. Yes, it drones on and on, it uses a lot of repetition, but these are very common the epic music of Swans. This could effectively be the sequel to Through Silver in Blood
since lyrically, they seem to take place around the same time. They still obtain an apocalyptic atmosphere, but with lighter instrumentation and more emphasis on lyricism. So in conclusion, Neurosis have created yet another massive record full of emotion and heaviness, but with a larger emphasis on lyricism and minimalism.