Archive for Neurosis

Neurosis Redux

Posted in Articles with tags , , , , , on January 7, 2013 by Magadh

Owing to technical difficulties,  as well as Washington’s cannabis laws, the footage and review of Neurosis/Tragedy/Blackbreath/Stoneburner from January 5th at Seattle’s Showbox is irretrievable. Suffice to say the line up was mind blowing and nobody feels worse about the loss than me. That said, I did want to address some of the nonsense directed a Neurosis from sections of the local chattering class.

Let me preface the rest of this piece by saying that nobody will accuse me of being  a shameless Neurosis fan boy. Prior to receiving a copy of Honor Found in Decay (an excellent record by the way) from a friend the last Neurosis album I purchased was Enemy of the Sun. I’ve found their more recent material to be most compelling live, so I haven’t made the effort to augment my collection. Still, they’ve always been a band I have tremendous respect for.

My respect for the band is why the misguided ramblings of a few local types can’t be allowed to go unanswered. Specifically, the notion that the band is “out of ideas”, “cashing in with this tour” and “not challenging audiences, just playing what people want”. Where to begin addressing this idiocy?

Firstly, Scott Kelly, Jason Roeder, Dave Edwardson and Noah Landis all spent time living in the New Method Warehouse located in Emeryville. New Method was dirty, bleak, tough, DIY and empowering. Neurosis has embodied those traits throughout its existence. The bands added to the bill for the Seattle Show, Black Breath, Tragedy and Stoneburner, certainly confirm the band remembers its roots. Kelly was quoted as saying that Neurosis is fundamentally based in Black Sabbath and Black Flag. The bands chosen to share the stage with them confirm they are not alone. Further, the evening’s lineup, and indeed the lineups throughout the tour, reflects a strong commitment to supporting the DIY community. In addition, if cashing in is reflected in an 8 show US tour, they seem to be doing things wrong.

Addressing the idea that the band is just, in essence, playing the hits I present the set list from January 5th.

  1. Eye
  2. My Heart for Deliverance
  3. At the End of the Road
  4. Times of Grace
  5. Distill
  6. At the Well
  7. Left to Wander
  8. We All Rage in Gold
  9. Bleeding the Pigs
  10. Given to the Rising
  11. Locust Star

A plurality of tracks were culled from Honor Found in Decay, with the rest drawn from The Eye of Every Storm, Through Silver in Blood, Given to the Rising and Times of Grace. This certainly doesn’t speak to a band pandering to its audience. Rather, the set list is well curated with each track flowing into the other as the band builds to the amazing “Locust Star”. 

Finally, the band’s willingness to part ways with Josh Graham and the visual experience is laudable. I’ve seen the band on the Word as Law, without visuals, as well as during the evolution of the projections from film to digital elements. The visual elements were extremely well selected, enhanced the live performance and became as exulated as the band’s music. This is why I find their decision to strip them away commendable. A band content with the status qua does not make that sort of decision

I’d like to leave you with footage from the show. The band is performing “At the Well” and the power of the performance does more to rebut the nattering of the perpetually discontent  than all of the preceding text.

– Captain of Games

Review: Morne Asylum

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on November 26, 2012 by Magadh

Morne Asylum Profound Lore/Armageddon Records

I saw Neurosis at the tender age of 16 in a  Billings, Montana VFW. It was 1990 and they were on the road supporting The Word as Law. They represented something so primal and terrifying, the whole experience was burned into by adolescent brain. I can still see Scott Kelly’s Big Mountain Defense shirt depicting Native Americans staring out behind an American flag with the stripes made of barbed wire. The band appeared as an ominous wall of spectres in the dim light as they struck the first few chords. They blew the PA almost immediately, this occurred with unfortunate regularity on that tour, and were forced to play the majority of their set instrumentally. The tension bled into the performance. They were a maelstrom, pulling the audience deeper into their rage. I was hooked.

Souls at Zero and Through Silver in Blood would become two of my favorites from their catalog. They wed the best of bands like Amebix with crushing heaviness and apocalyptic soundscapes. The addition of potent, flowing, visual elements would further enhance the live experience. In fact, the power of the Through Silver in Blood era live set was such that my wife had a panic attack and has sworn off Neurosis ever since. What does any of this have to do with Morne? I’m coming to that.

Morne’s Asylum taps into the same primal power as those early Neurosis records. The album begins with the ominous majesty of the title track. Clocking in a 17 minutes, Milosz’s vocals bear more than a passing resemblance to those of Scott Kells and the track neatly fuses doomy crust with sparse piano. The listener is lulled ,via an excellent interlude, before they are finished off by more furious doom. “Edge of the Sky” and “My Return” invoke the the naked rage of Through Silver in Blood’s “Purify” as waves of metallic sludge build and then spill over the listener.

References to Neurosis aside, Morne is still very much their own band. Tracks like “Nothing to Remain” and “Killing Fields” evidence the band’s artful composition. They effectively fuse their brand of sludgy crust with the darker elements of a band like Isis to create brutal, soaring compositions. The final track, “Volition”, marries sparse piano and violin with whispered female vocals and muted guitar before building to a sonic expression of rage.

Asylum was released in 2011 but remains a criminally under recognized record. Do yourself a favor and pop over to their Bandcamp site here.  One hopes 2013 sees new material from this Boston juggernaut.

– Captain of Games