Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Neurosis - Honor Found In Decay (2012)
Country: Oakland, California
Style: Post-Metal/Psychedelic Rock
Pretty much if you listen to post-metal, you know the name Neurosis. Along with Isis, they helped to pioneer and popularize the style amongst the metal world and push forward with their uncompromising vision for constant experimentation is what has led them to be such the respected group they have become. Being the group's first new release (of new material) in five years, this has become quite the little hot bed for activity in the review world.
So, in the five years we've had to wait for Neurosis to regroup and create music again, we've had solo releases from both Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly and Josh Graham has released some very good music with A Storm of Light, but ultimately, no matter how much any fan enjoyed those albums, I think there was always that thought in the back of their heads that they wished it was just another Neurosis record. That's not to undermine any of the albums they released either solo or ASoL, because they are very good, but I'm sure the love for Neurosis comes first for a lot more people. But back to this record. The progression for the band in the recent decade has seemed more like a slow climb towards the top of a mountain. I don't think one could say that there was ever a decrease in quality in any of the band's material but from The Sun That Never Sets onwards, to me, it felt like the band just wasn't all that interested in pumping out heavy and hard-hitting tracks any longer (which is something the band have said in interviews) and began to focus more on creating psychedelic and moody jams. Honestly, that's become the band's strength, while groups like Isis and Cult of Luna continued to evolve through songwriting and progressive ideas and various other groups just started ripping of the bigger ones, Neurosis had already moved on from heavy and started to focus more on texture and experimentation.
I know it might not be the most popular opinion, but in comparison to the band's other material, I thought that Given to The Rising was a bit too unfocused for my taste. It was still a very good album, but it didn't seem as consistent as a record like its predecessor The Eye of Every Storm had been. I wasn't really sure how to feel about this during my first listen, I mean I liked it, but it felt... different. Sonically it wasn't overly dense or heavy, and felt sort of barren and dusty, and kind of reminded me of the vibe that I get when listening to Kelly's solo material. Obviously, all Neurosis material is subject to several listens before understanding comes to the listener, and this one is no exception to that rule, and as was the case with most of their material, it did grow on me with more listens. In the end it actually reminded me a bit more of the aforementioned The Eye of Every Storm, but not quite as dark. I would actually say that album is more layered and textured as well. This is a very stark and open sounding album, very psychedelic but not filled to the brim with sound. It's almost the frankness and the minimal use of texture that gives it that psychedelic mood. I have to say that while the band are known for being quite heavy, this record never struck me as being so. Yes, there is certainly distortion on here, but it felt more weighty than heavy, like if you stripped away the distortion on the guitars, they would more than likely carry a similar effect they do now. The distortion is used as an effect to enhance the power of the instruments, but if you stripped that away all the electricity, I do believe these songs would still work as acoustic pieces.
Possibly the thing that surprised me the most while listening through this was how varied the tracks were on a sort of melodic level. Now of course, Neurosis have never been a band whose focus was ever directed at melody, but it's in there no matter how much they choose to experiment and maneuver around it. But there were just some really interesting melodic choices on here, My Heart For Deliverance is almost uplifting in its melody choice while Bleeding The Pigs is stern and very morose. Each track has its own distinct characteristics and personality, but is still very much united under a similar sun. Neurosis have never been about making albums filled with songs, it always seemed to me like it was more about the album instead of the songs, the vision of the entire end result rather than the individual pieces that make it up. Every song works to fit inside that vision be they dark and brooding or more up-tempo and aggressive.
It seems somewhat fitting that after five years filled with side ventures and focusing more on their own personal lives that a new record from Neurosis would come across as some of their most emotional material to date. Full of songs that range from uplifting to being very melancholic, it is one of the group's most accomplished pieces to date. Definitely a must for all fans of rock and metal music - though I'd recommend Neurosis to anyone if that says anything.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: At The Well, My Heart For Deliverance