For Fans Of
Neurosis have been making ear-splitting noise in various incarnations for over 25 years now, slowly morphing from a hardcore punk outfit to the complex brooding metal beast they’ve become. Never compromising their craft for passing trends has allowed them to sit on the murky outskirts of the heavy music spectrum while continuously pushing forward along a unique sonic trajectory. This approach has landed Neurosis in a position where the title `genre-defining’ is most apt. But resting on past laurels is not something the Californian outfit are content with. One listen to the band’s latest effort, Honor Found In Decay, and it’s clear Neurosis are keeping one eye focused on where they’ve come from and the other on the abyss they’re heading in.
Over the past two decades Neurosis have become masters of atmosphere, and like a fine wine, they’ve only got better with age. Clocking in at just over an hour, Honor Found In Decay’s seven sprawling tracks coalesce to form a mesmerizing sonic journey that navigates between passages of suffocating, pitch black droning and luscious open soundscapes. As many have come to expect from the band, this is thought-provoking metal that demands a level of emotional engagement over simple cathartic release. A track like `At The Well’ may be riddled with mammoth riffs that crash like breaking waves over the course of its ten minutes, but sheer grandiose dynamics aside, it’s equally memorable for its stark sense of ominous doom aided by the increasingly desperate shouts of vocalist Steve Von Till. But for all the darkness, there is an equal amount of light; each member carefully controlling the shutters to allow more vulnerable moments – like the gentle piano interlude in `My Heart For Deliverance’ – show a softer side to their otherwise impenetrable exterior.
Honor follows a similar incline to Neurosis’ past few albums with no one track reaching anything faster than a mid-paced trot. And with three songs stretching past ten minutes, it does require a degree of endurance to sit through – though it’s worth the slog. Prefaced with ghostly ambience, `We All Rage In Gold’ quickly segues into thunderous riffage before Noah Landis’ dark synths interject, wailing and otherworldly. `All Is Found…In Time’ is similarly entrancing. Venturing into bristling psychedelia and pushing nearly nine minutes, it’s one of the most abrasive of the lot, along with `Bleeding the Pigs’ – a track as vicious as its name suggests. Though frequently sprawling, cuts like these never feel overly bloated and are aided by the expert recording chops of the legendary Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies, The Stooges), who ensures Neurosis maintain a raw aesthetic over a studio polished sheen.
An analysis of Neurosis’ latest effort wouldn’t be complete without mentioning their increasing fondness for flourishes of gothic folk and thick orchestration to fill out the space between crashing cymbals and scorching guitar. From the moaning organs at the beginning of `Casting Of The Ages’ to the oriental strings that round out closer `Raise The Dawn’, these extra dashes of texture and flavour give Honor an interesting character, again setting them apart from the mainstream metal pack and reinforcing the `post-metal’ tag they’re frequently adorned with.
‘Honor Found In Decay’ is another shining example of why Neurosis are one of contemporary metal’s most valuable assets. Equal parts challenging and mesmerizing, studio album number ten is an assured effort from the Californian outfit and one that’s bound to continue to influence modern thrashers like Mastodon, Baroness, Kylesa and countless others. Sure, plenty have followed in Neurosis’ footsteps, but there’s still no one else quite like them – a feat very few bands achieve.
1. We All Rage In Gold
2. At The Well
3. My Heart For Deliverance
4. Bleeding The Pigs
5. Casting Of The Ages
6. All Is Found…In Time
7. Raise The Dawn