Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/09/2016
Label: Neurot Recordings
“Fires Within Fires” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1). Bending Light
2). A Shadow Memory
3). Fire is the End Lesson
4). Broken Ground
Neurosis are celebrating being a band for 30 years and what better way to celebrate than a new album? It's no secret that I fucking love this band. 'Through Silver In Blood' and 'Times of Grace' opened my mind to the possibilities of musical and sonic exploration and many of my epiphanies have been soundtracked by their extensive back catalog.
Ok, let's get one thing straight; Neurosis will never make another of the aforementioned albums, so stop comparing every album to them! Neurosis are a band that are constantly evolving, each album is a point on a serpentine time line, 'Fires Within Fires' is the band's 11th studio album (12th if you count the album they recorded Jarboe) and they waste no time in dishing out the meaty slabs on opening track 'Bending Light', a few moments of calm permeate the atypically monstrous Scott Kelly penned riffs.
Kelly's voice, one of the most distinctive and powerful in all of music, carries the track, direct and with a clear mission; complete destruction of biblical proportions. "Peeling skin away, reveals the heart" scream Kelly and Co vocalist/guitarist Steve Von Till, themes of the elements, the mind, the soul and the body are always explored on a Neurosis record and the point is hammered home here. Softly, the noise and beautiful clean guitars of 'A Shadow Memory', definitely a Von Till song idea, will furrow inside your brain and cleanse your spirit, then the heaviness hits and Von Till gives us his impeccable gruff, melodic bellow while the songs central harmony, understated in it's simplicity, washes over you in waves of brilliance. The contributions of Noah Landis on keys/synths/samples is no less important than on 'Honour Found In Decay' but lies a little deeper in the mix, allowing for the guitars (a few new pedals being used maybe?) to come to the forefront. Landis' weapons of choice become more prominent on 'Fire Is The End Lesson', shimmering and floating around the guitars like a swarm of gravity defying bees and when the heavy riff kicks in around the 3.30 mark it's impossible not to be reminded of all those epically crushing moments throughout their career.
'Broken Ground' begins with some more top notch sample work from Landis before the clean riffing, with the kind of string bend we've come to know and love from Neurosis, sets the moody tone, backed by Jason Roeder's no nonsense approach to rhythm. Lyrics of burning wood, stones and seeking the sun embraces the music in Steve Von Till's ever improving singing voice...then we get the heaviness again and it's Neurosis in their soul smashing purest form. At the tail end the album is 'Reach', if you were to look at a line graph of all past Neurosis albums to define songs; this would fall where “Souls At Zero” and “The Eye of Every Storm” meet. Chorus laden guitars and the 'tape rewinding' sounds dance around the rhythm laid down by Roeder and bassist Dave Edwardson. "They'll never see all that we see. Trust in blood. Live in waters..." sing Kelly and Von Till sorrowfully during the quieter parts. The song breaks off into minimalist, ambient territory for a while...and then the heavy part. The first time I heard it, I got goosebumps. Each subsequent listen yielded the same result. What better way to end the album than with all guns blazing and Scott Kelly roaring away.
Neurosis seem to redefine themselves each decade; in the 80's they were pissed off, aggressive but had your best interests at heart. In the 90's, they progressed to become a thought provoking, godlike beast, creating 4 albums which influenced hundreds of bands and which still stand out in today's musical landscape. In the 00's, they were more reflective and organic, using clean singing and ambient parts. As this decade has yet to close, it's difficult to define what Neurosis are...but herein lies their beauty; you define who and what they are to you. After 30 years, these guys know what needs to go into a Neurosis record and will continue to do so until the music is finished with them.
“Fire Within Fires” is available here