Friday 19 October 2012

Neurosis - 'Honor Found In Decay' (Album Review)

By: Aaron Pickford

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 26/10/2012
Label: Neurot Recordings

Like all good art, it may not be embraced by everyone, however it will be revered as a work of genius, because what we have here is a true masterpiece in every sense of the word.

‘Honor Found In Decay’ track Listing

1) We All Rage In Blood (6:36)
2) At The Well (10:05)
3) My Heart For Deliverance (11:41)
4) Bleeding The Pigs (7:20)
5) Casting The Ages (10:03)
6) All Is Found...In Time (8:51)
7) Raise The Dawn (5:58)

Neurosis is:

Scott Kelly
Steve Von Till
Dave Edwardson
Noah Landis
Jason Roeder
Josh Graham

The Review

First of all, I want you to indulge me, and remember when you first heard about or listened to Neurosis. Can you remember which album it was?  For me it was ‘Enemy of the Sun’, nearly 20 years ago now.  This is the thing about Neurosis, they have been around for the best part of 3 decades now, starting from their hardcore roots with ‘Pain of Mind’, then reinventing or creating a new movement in metal, with the release of ‘Souls at Zero’.  Wherever or whenever you start with this band, their music is some of the most powerful and awe inspiring music to have been released. 

Anyway, we need to get to the present, 2012 and talk about new Neurosis material, their 10th record in total, ‘Honor Found In Decay’.  With this record, Neurosis seem intent on exploring the vast expanses of our psyches, entering our minds and taking us on a journey of self discovery and showing us what is possible.  This music is truly Epic, it feels like there should be an accompanying 70 minute video, because it feel like a visual and auditory extravaganza.  As if Neurosis are intent on taking us to the edge of the Earth and want us to look down and see how spectacular the world truly is and also its vulnerability too.  What's more by taking us to the edge of beyond and truly embracing the full auditory splendour  of this record, you will feel like you are free falling to Earth at 800 miles per hour, just soaking up the beauty of this once in a life time event, that is ‘Honor Found In Decay’.  This record is without question the most spectacular and astonishing record you will ever wish to hear.

In terms of the musicality, it feels like the band, went into rehearsal room, locked down, pressed record and were intent on jamming out these tunes and making the best record they could.  Moreover, that is exactly what they have done.  What we have is a holistic and enveloping wall of sound, the record has a live feel to it and appears to be the band vibing of each other, embracing and exploring every ideas. Channelling that positive energy with an acute symbiosis, with almost psychic ability, in so much as each individual knows exactly what the other is thinking in terms of tone and structure of the songs.  Indeed the record is all about vibe and atmospherics, with the starting point being the tribalism of the drums

The record starts with a shrill sound of what I can only describe as what it would be like for light to pierce through a crystal prism, causing a kaleidoscopic wave of colour.  It is as if we have woken from a dream, we open our eyes and we are met with the gentle sounds of dual clean guitars strumming, with the delicate splendour of the colours enveloping around us, the dull drone of the bass kicking in, until we are met with the awesome snap of Jason Roeder's snare drum and the band are now in full flow.  The vocals are unmistakably pained with fury as we have come to expect from Messrs Von Till and Kelly.  The sound of the band is amazing, everything sounds crisp and pure, with the adage of the startlingly samples, seeming to incorporate 80's era sci-fi at times and the keyboards have a morose and sombre tone.  Amazingly this happens within the first 4 minutes of the record, building until the first punchy riff hammers home with bucket loads of distortion, continuing till the track's conclusion. 

‘At The Well’ is the first of 3 epic 10min plus tracks on the record, each of them are what we have come to expect from the band.  This is one of my favourite tracks on the record, it is a brooding and melancholy beginning with the contemplative and meditative marlboro soaked vocals from Scott Kelly, his voice is wonderfully sombre and just plain emotional, like his performance is deeply cathartic. The sound of a tremolo guitar effect adding wondrous support to his ponderous musings. Leading us into the core element of the record, one of such depth, the track has an Orchestral sound.  It is their post apocalyptic symphony.  Roeder plays his drums tight, and a persistent and repetitive beat is the foundation of the song and the album for that matter, with slight variations on that theme.  This is what I love about the fact Neurosis choose to work with Steve Albini, because his majestic touch provides such an amazing drum sound in the mix.   The sound of bagpipes signalling peace before the band begin to enter battle again.  The calm before the storm, the sound of war cries from the droning guitars which initiate the battle to commence again, which lasts for another 5 minutes or so, building to a blood drenched crescendo with a kinda post-punk guitar fill.  Throughout the track, it is the drums that holds everything together brilliantly, seeming like there is an entire army of percussionists, such is the tribalistic nature and vibe of the track, reminding me of the percussive beginning of their classic record, ‘Through Silver in Blood’. 

‘ My Heart For Deliverance’ is 11:40s, but that does not matter, their songs always have an epic feel to them and this is no different, the track is extremely progressive. The subtle tones of the barely audible guitars seeming to be looped with a repetitious sequencing, with the samples from Noah Landis feeling like they're inspired by movies such as Blade Runner or Videodrome, that deal with themes of dystopia and surrealism.   This truly is an exceptional song.  It is cinematic, opulent and almost abstract, because nothing about Neurosis' music is conventional; nothing about the record is as it seems, because with each repeated listen you hear something new and innovative.  It ensnares you from the very beginning and feels inconceivable, almost bewildering that everything just fits together so well, a single note from a piano played intermittently but resonates and seems to arouse or is intended to arouse an emotional reaction, because you do feel deeply moved by the music on offer.  The beautiful words of the female narrator adding further depth 'We follow the earth, the earth follows the stars, the stars know their way, and though the body dies, the stars will reign like the waves of the sea and the breatheless wind,'  That passage just feels so poetic.  What a wonderfully absorbing and encapsulating band they are. 

‘Bleeding The Pigs’ has the arduous task of being sandwiched between two astonishing tracks, which is probably the most left field track on the record, having a noise rock feel to it and is reliant upon the industrious sounds of samples, again sounds of which seem inspired by Alien movies.  A gentle arpeggio underlying the track, with the obligatory unconventional and eccentric distorted lead breaks.  I would say that this is perhaps as close to the sounds of the ‘Enemy of the Sun’ record as we get, almost feeling on the verge of being openly hostile or belligerent.  This track almost feels like the perfect segue into the ‘Casting of the Ages’, the heaviest riff driven song on the record and my favourite track.  This is the band at their most powerful, this track is about creating an atmosphere of tension, indeed the distorted guitars are cacophonous, almost like waves crashing around you.  From the opening of track, where we experience a delicate series of notes from the guitars, almost chiming with glee, it is this riff that is essentially varied throughout.  When the distortion kicks in, it is thick and crushing with the power of impassioned dual vocals adding further weight and emotion.  The song is interspersed with the occasional burst of electronics.  The guitars are so furiously heavy you can feel them feeding back and the vibration in your ears is like a sonic boom, such is the crunch they unleash. 

This song and indeed the record is just devastatingly grand, causing you to feel unspeakably emotional, but leaving you blissfully awestruck and dumbfounded by the records Titanic impact.  I am almost clutching to find adjectives to describe how amazing this record is.  The vocals as raw and passionate, provoking deep sentimentality and also poignancy, in the sense you're too moved to speak.

What I have presented here is by no means a definitive track by track description, indeed I have only mentioned 5 tracks, however to truly appreciate the record, you must listen to it yourselves and make up your own mind.  Like the band name, Neurosis, the music on offer is like an affliction that affects your very nervous system to its core.  Indeed, because there is so much going on, the record induces a hyper vigilance, mental confusion and even bewilderment due to the vast expanses of music and layers of delicate nuance from Noah Landis' samples and keyboard.  What is indicative of the record is that Neurosis have written a richer and more complex cerebral experience. It feels as if the mind is being deceived and some conspiracy is unfolding as we try to uncover the source of the sounds on offer.  In the process we become close to losing touch with reality in a series of increasingly bizarre and violent hallucinations, such is our brains inability to cope with this vast sensory overload Neurosis offer. 

This record is the Event Horizon, the point of no return" i.e. the point at which the gravitational pull becomes so great as to make escape impossible and why would you want too?  This is not just music; it is art, Neurosis art.  ‘Honor Found In Decay’ is something which needs to be enjoyed with repeated listens and will no doubt mean or feel different to every single person who is willing to commit to this journey.  Like all good art, it may not be embraced by everyone, however it will be revered as a work of genius, because what we have here is a true masterpiece in every sense of the word.  It is frankly astonishing, yet again Neurosis have set the benchmark which they may never equal again.  But don't bet on it!

Band info: Official| Facebook  | Neurot Records