Neurosis

Because the Swans were too cheery
*special introductory paragraph!
*Pain Of Mind
*Aberration 7"
*The Word As Law
*Souls At Zero
*Enemy Of The Sun
*Through Silver In Blood
*Times Of Grace
*Sovereign
*A Sun That Never Sets
*Neurosis & Jarboe
*The Eye Of Every Storm
*Given To The Rising

They started off as a cool, bitter hardcore band and quickly turned into a slow, punishing, depressing killing machine. If feeling bad is for you, buy and buy some more!


Pain Of Mind - Alchemy 1987.
Rating = 8

This album is straight hardcore punk (and GREAT hardcore punk), but even at this point, there was something incredibly bitter and depressing about the band's sound. The chord sequences don't have even an OUNCE of "pop" in them. The riffs are extremely angry, bordering on ugly, and the vocals are all done in a monotone top-of-lungs scream. The overall result is similar to having a really angry pit bull thrashing your body around in a junkyard for 35 minutes. Luckily, all the songs are really fast so they don't pound you slowly into the dirt like the band's later material. Instead, you bang your head quickly and wonder how any member of this band could ever feel happiness, either as a result of their music or anything else going on their lives.

I feel so very sad for them. Can I buy them a cookie?

Reader Comments

fatmanosman@googlemail.com
Ey up lad!

Is it just me or does the into to 'Black' sound like 'Simple Man' by Lynyrd Skynyrd? Never noticed the Skynyrd influence before, I'll have to go back and listen to 'Enemy Of The Sun' more closely now.

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Aberration 7" - Lookout 1989
Rating = 7

Their final kibosh as a bitter hardcore punk band. "Self-Doubt" combines a spy theme intro with genuinely angry screaming; "Nonsense" merges queasy sickness with standard NYHC hate-metal; and "Pollution" features a slower and more warped note riff to warn you of stylistic detours to come. The mix is similar to that of Cryptic Slaughter's chart-topping Stream of Consciousness LP, with a guitar tone so chintzy, trebly and fuzzed-to-hell that you'd never be able to make out what it's playing if the bass weren't doubling it note-for-note. It's a good single, but they'd covered this area pretty comprehensively on Pain Of Mind; it was time for a change. And Oh! The change!

Now here's a bunch of names I made up for baseball teams. Go make a league and use these names:

The Ballhitters
The Guys Who Run Around The Bases
The People Who Play Baseball
The Guy Who Cleans The Bathroom, And His Team
The Transparent Sox
The People With Broken Spines
The Big Fucken Losers
The Smallpox Blankets
"Spit," The Team
The Sun Was In My Eyes
The Balkin' Overthrows
The Team That Will Lose Unless You walk Every Single Batter
The Mustache Gang
The Human League of Baseball
The "Weird York" Yankeevics

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The Word As Law - Lookout 1990.
Rating = 8

The first thing you notice about this album is that the cover has a picture of a tongue with a spike shoved through it. The second thing you notice is that it only has eight songs and only one of them is shorter than four minutes. The third thing you notice is that I'm not wearing a shirt and I'm looking really sexy in these tight jeans. The fourth thing you notice is that the songs aren't hardcore. They center around the same "chord sequences designed to make you feel uncomfortable" style as the last record, but they're midtempo with lots more changes in the songs and a mix that accentuates the bass guitar as much as the regular guitars. The singer dudes are still just screaming angrily, but the music is always interesting even when upsetting. But Neurosis aren't here to make you feel good about yourself. That's not the point! Let's examine a few lyrics, aye?

That paragraph was getting a bit long. Here are some sample lyrics: "Toiling our lives away, We learn to accept the petty rewards that we get from the feudal system of our modern day wage-slavery/Setting goals for ourselves that cannot be met through this system of self-perpetuating misery." So yeah, it's a socially conscious thing, with most of the lyrics focusing around how peoples' conformist decisions lead to their ultimate unhappiness and denial that they are unsatisfied. Here's some more: "Factory/Tied to a cage to slave my life away/Openness makes me an easy prey/I buy the drugs to kill the pain/That this shit causes in my brain." Eeeee. So yeah. Neurosis are unhappy and they suspect that you are too. And if you aren't, they're here to help you get that way!

The mix is awfully open, keeping the music from being as heavy and disturbing as it could be. But that's probably for the best, for even when there's something close to an uplifting melody (the beginning of "Blisters," for example), the lyrics inevitably bring you back to the reality of pessimism.

The band is good. Definitely good. They create songs that sound unlike anything you've ever heard -- a kind of cross between death metal, goth, industrial and hardcore. But you may want to avoid them if you're already unhappy - they kinda make you want to blow your fucking head off.

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Souls At Zero - Alternative Tentacles 1992.
Rating = 8

Much heavier than the last two. Guitars pumped up REALLY loud. Drumbeats slowed way down. Samples and soundbites added. Much more texture to the heavy meddle, including violins, acoustic guitars and flutes. Melodies are more like melodies now instead of just chord sequences -- lots of arpeggiation and instrumental interplay. Dynamics = lots of quiet-to-loud like everybody attributes to the Pixies for a reason that is still unclear to me, it being an obvious element of rock music since it began (haven't these people ever heard the Bee Gees' b-side "Close Another Door"? Sheesh! Get with it, people!). Punishing but also enjoyably melancholy during the non-loud parts -- the first two songs in particular have metabolically astringent parts revolving around guitar harmonics. There are definitely a few too many moments of "distorted guitar chords going up one step, then back down in an irritating, predictable manner," but it never lasts long and it always contrasts well with the neat "other parts" of the songs. But you have to really LISTEN. If you treat it like background music while you're reading or giving birth to a baby, it will seem just like monolithic heavy metal noise with a guy screaming over it. However, pay close attention to the entire record and you may soon find yourself asking that musical question, "Why didn't I hit 'pause' instead of sitting here and crapping in my pants half an hour ago?"

Reader Comments

evileric13@hotmail.com (E. Daniel Miller)
This is the most Neurosis album i heard, just before Through Silver in Blood came out. I'd say this and Through Silver in Blood are my favorites, though all the albums have their moments. Definitely one of my top 10 favorite bands ever. As far doom/grind/noisecore goes, Neurosis and Godflesh are the gods.

Ratings:

Pain of Mind - 7
The Word as Law - 7.5
Souls at Zero - 9
Enemy of the Sun - 8.5
Through Silver in Blood - 9.5
Times of Grace - 8.5
Sun that Never Sets - 8

(a week later)

"the most Neurosis album I heard?" Sorry folks, I meant the FIRST Neurosis album I heard. Someone must've slipped the NyQuil in my drink or something. Hate when that happens... Still, it is a very very Neurosis album, isn't it?

9904352O@student.gla.ac.uk
Yes this is a very very Neurosis album and I absolutely love it! The interplay and melodies that run though this are amazing, especially on the title track with the creepy piano refrain that has layers of equally unsettling guitar running over and through. Chronology for Survival is awesome and like nothing else I've ever heard.

My introduction to Neurosis came via A Sun that Never Sets, which left me baffled and unimpressed. However never being one to be put off in my quest for a morose listening experience I went out and bought Through Silver in Blood...which is better, but still difficult for me to get into. This however I genuinely enjoy! I apppreciate the subtle complexity that Neurosis employ on the later albums I've heard (all but Times of Grace and The Eye of Every Storm-which I shall be purchasing in about 40minutes) but it seems to me like they moved away from the really compelling melodies which this album has in excess. Hats of to the boys, because they are consistently challenging and inteligent, but if you want a really heavy album that is complex, inteligent, dark AND enjoyable then get Souls at Zero, because its the business!!

Oops, lets pretend I never used the word "challenging" eh. Forget that and try "Dense" instead and we'll say no more about it.

spinaltomek@hotmail.com
10! 10! 10!

This one is perfect! Amazing how they transformed from Word As Law into THIS!

The songs are very brutal, but still catchy in a way. And it's so diverse. Everything that is cool about Neurosis is found here and they never fall into the traps of making songs too long, repeating parts too often or being too predictable. The singers occasionally sound like demons from hell and the rest of the record they are screaming in pain and anger. Great stuff.

Neurosis have created a very unique sound and this is their best example of it. If you're into heavy music, buy this one today!

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Enemy Of The Sun - Alternative Tentacles 1993.
Rating = 7

Starts off with two unpleasantly oppressive two-chord metal screamers and ends with 20 excruciating minutes of tribal drumming. But the rest is great! The title track in particular is so intricately textured, exquisitely arranged and expertly performed that it makes most bands look shitty, which of course they aren't. Most bands are great. Especially the ones you've never heard of. Those groups are really phenomenal.

This album is similar to the last one, but with the additions of some neat horn-type instruments and piano tinklings for even more morose philanthropy. Honestly, it's hard to consider a group this smart "depressing" if you enjoy listening to intelligent heavy music (I'm not going to use the word "challenging" because it's a critics' buzzword. Music isn't a brain teaser -- you either enjoy hearing it or you don't). Except "Cleanse," of course - the 20 minutes of tribal drumming will either make you dance up and down like an African Bushfellow or slice out your eardrums with a pinking shear, depending on whether or not you're into shucking fit like that.

Reader Comments

shane@timecubemusic.com (Shane Dignan)
Hey now, "Lost" and "Raze the Stray" are two of my favorite tracks on this album. Shame on you! Oppressive music is GOOOOOOOD.

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Through Silver In Blood - Relapse 1996.
Rating = 8

More cerebral caustic sounds from the wonderful and frightening world of Neurosis. This CD is so heavy, it actually gave me a nosebleed this morning! And I wasn't even sitting that high up in my home auditorium. Just sitting up there smoking a weed, waiting for the t-shirt guy to come by. The sound here is pretty much the same as on the last one - very interestingly rhythmic (tribal tap-a-tappida-tappida-tap-a instead of basic rock boomp-chick a lot of the time), guy screaming, heavy guitars and interesting little mood enhancements like somber piano and even a weird wildass bagpipe in one song that sounded so beautifully out of place, I thought it was coming from outside my window! But I checked and Old Man O'McGalligan was just resting on my perch eating a potato, so I knew it was coming from the CD.

One thing that you need to know about Neurosis is as follows: They craft their songs too intelligently for you to hate them, but the music is so purposely abrasive and pushbackening that it's hard for me to love them. A lot of people do though, so don't be thinking that they're nothing but an auto wreck on the side of the musical highway to be glared at briefly and forgotten as you move on to the Ferraris of Bad Religion and Black Oak Arkansas. No sir, Neurosis are the real deal. A heavy metal band with the smarts of an Einstein.

No no, not Albert. But certainly some guy whose last name is Einstein.

Reader Comments

kevinhollis1@home.com
My first exposure to Neurosis was on the Ozzfest video and CD. I loved 'Locust Star' Soon after I heard 'Through Silver in Blood'. I think both this album and 'Enemy of the Sun' are incredible. The 'Locust Star' EP is also great, showing both sides of the band, Neurosis and their ambient counterpart, Tribes of the Neurot.

evileric13@hotmail.com (E. Daniel Miller)
Definitely Neurosis' masterpiece, so far anyway. Everything here kills, from the brutal opening of the 12 minute title track through the climax of "Enclosure in Flame." Maybe it is a little drawn out in a couple parts, but still a near-perfect noise classic. 9.5/10

spinaltomek@hotmail.com
this is my favorite album by neurosis so far. (didnt listen to all of them yet) once you get used to the singing/screaming song the songs offer so much. they ARE melodic, though ugly in a certain way. lots of them are slow to midtempo but still very energetic. the screaming sounds like the guys are constantly suffering throughout the album. very tense and LOUD. one of the best and most idiosyncratic thing about this band is the sound/keyboard guy. those samples are really creepy...great stuff!

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Times Of Grace - Relapse 1999.
Rating = 6

Seems to be more quiet passages on this one, with more cool strings and bagpipes giving it that black metal feel. One song ("Away") even features quiet music and a guy SINGING instead of yelling!!! It's as if you've slipped in the wrong CD and are enjoying a Nick Cave album of songs for you! Where else to say hmm. Wellz, as always, the music is depressing as shit and LOUD to play distorted vroom guitars and guy yell. Also seems as if they spent less time on arrangements this time around than they usually do, with bland metal crap like "End Of The Harvest" just blasting you in the head for no reason where songs on past albums would have impressed you at the same time. I'm not knocking it all though, understand. It's the most diverse Neurosis CD yet - you never quite know what's going to happen next (though you'd best suspect it will likely be loud) and lots of times it's really enjoyable shiite muslim. Which reminds me -- these last few albums have been different lyrically than the early stuff. Not that I know what any of the lyrics are, but with song titles like "The Road To Sovereignty" and "Enclosure In Flame," I just feel like they're going for something a bit more fantastical or mystical or some crap. I could be wrong though - what do I know about partying? Or anything else?

By your way, Neurosis has a side project called Tribes Of Neurot that concentrates, so I'm told, on tribal rhythms. I haven't bought their CDs. Have you? If so, let us know what they're like! Hurry! Don't let us down, you piles of fig!

One other thing - last night my fiancee dreamed that Hollywood was making a movie about The Who, starring Metallica as The Who. With those old mod '60s haircuts and stuff. Playing Who songs in Metallica fashion. Can you imagine???? I just dreamt about a motel with lots of rats in it! Interesting symmetry with reality, seeing as how my puppy dog Henry dove under a bench this morning and came out chewing on a rat carcass. As Ozzy Osbourne might say, "Ablllllllllskkk."

Reader Comments

Enfermo@rocketmail.com (A)
Supposedly one of Tribes of Neurot's albums, "Grace", is meant to be played simultaneously with this CD, making it a really nice experience!

mrdelish@webtv.net
Tribes is an musical entity completely opposite of Neurosis.It is ambient noise soundscapes that captivate and intrance.You need to get some.I suggest you get Tribes of Neurot and the Walking Timebombs Static Migation. And then get Tribes 60 degrees cd

kevinhollis1@home.com
You really do need to listen to Times of Grace along with Grace, as Enfermo@rocketmail suggests. I really adds to the listening experience. Plus, I think it's a really original idea to have two albums which can be listened to alone, or which can be combined for a really tripped-out experience.

bigbaddog88@msn.com
This was a good album and a good listener. I remember just listening to it all the way and thinking it's not that bad. Though at times, you feel as though you want them to speed it up just alittle, or move on to another chord, while they just continue on. It's still a good listen for those rainy days, when you're trapped in the house with nothing but knivies and a really bad comic who tells nothing but knot-knot jokes.

Get to find the site again Mark.

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Sovereign - Neurot Recordings 2000
Rating = 8

You know what I'd love to see in a horror movie? A scene where the protagonist is alone in a room and suddenly a dark figure darts quickly across the screen. Why oh why can't any of today's top horror movie directors include a scene where the protagonist is walking around in a dark room, perhaps having heard a noise there, and suddenly a dark figure -- say, a ghost or axe murderer - suddenly darts quickly from one side of the screen to the other? I don't care whether the protagonist sees it or not; all that matters is that I, the viewer, see it. Who do I have to blow to get this scene included in a movie? Why, you'd think after all these years of making horror movies, somebody would've thought to include a scene where a dark figure darts quickly across the screen, but nope! Apparently the world's horror movie directors feel that a darkened figure would have no reason to dart across the screen when it could just as easily head directly towards the protagonist. I call bullshit! Let's say you're hiding in your basement and somebody comes down the steps. Do you run right at them? HELL NO! You dart across the screen! But today's Filmmaker's Guild is just too interested in the fantastical to include my 'slice of realism' in their horror films.

And that's exactly how I feel about Sovereign, a 32-minute, 4-song hunk of loud, heavy, slow, dramatic, growly doom metal engineered by Steve Albini. Whether you call it a long EP or short LP, 32 minutes is a perfect length to get your fill but not overkill on Neurosis's blistering cement truck of Swansy depression, Melvinsy shudder-sludge, queasy chord changes, hypnotic feedback drones, thudding bass lines, powerfuckenhouse drumming, and full-band explosions of metallic headbanging ROOOOAARRR!!! And then some horns or something.

Neurosis pounds and rages, often with sound effects or spoken samples. They're a significantly better band than Tool. I urge you to drown your miseries in their jaunty swimming pool of hopelessness.

I'm into making lists lately. I figure lists are as good as anything else, especially since I haven't had a drop of alcohol in over three months and thus don't have any hilarious binge drinking stories for you. So here's a list of song titles I think Neurosis should use in future projects. Please pass these along to Steve Von Till:

"A Sun Storm That Rises Of Fire"
"Flame The Ocean And Flood The Light"
"Heart Murmur"
"Receive, Cleanse, Purify, Erase, Erode, Cringe & Exist (Also, Resound) (If You Have Time, I Mean)"
"Canker Sore"
"Do You Have Any Hi-C? (Water Is Not Enough, Pt. II)"
"I'm So Sad In The United States"
"Jiminy Cricket? Yeah, Right. That Guy Sucks!"
"I Wish My Socks Had Bright Colorful Stripes On Them"
"Get That Goat Cheese Off My Pillowcase! (I Don't Want My Hair To Smell Like Fecal Matter)"

Good old lists. Isn't it awesome how they lean to one side?

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A Sun That Never Sets - Relapse 2001.
Rating = 6

Oh I got a neurosis. I got a fluffin neurosis alright. You wanna hear about MY neurosis? Well, how's this for taxi cabs on a rainy day -- I have an overwhelming anxious fear that this band will never again release an INTELLIGENT, INTERESTING ALBUM!!!! What are the sons of a bean doing with all their free time? Jumping rope with underprivileged children? This is just a bunch of overdramatic, ridiculously slow heavy metal! No interesting rhythmic stuff. No cool harmonics. Very few interesting riffs. And worst of all, no BRAINS. Is this really the kind of music they want to be making? They've been milking this "slow heavy" thing for a decade now and it's not getting any more interesting. Do all five of these musicians honestly wake up in the morning and think to themselves, "Gee! I'm in the mood to play some slow depressing music!" or are they just doing this because they feel they have to in order to keep their fanbase satisfied? I mean, even the Swans progressed over time; Neurosis seems to be regressing something fierce.

There is ONE very interesting thing about this CD and that is why its grade made it up to a 6 -- they have this guy named Noah Landis in the band now (for all I know, he may have been on their last five albums too; I would be a fool to actually do research before writing my review) who is credited for "Keyboards, samples, sound manipulation." This man (I ASSUME it's this man anyway) has come up with some of the creepiest, most interesting eerie wind noises I've ever heard. Like backwards wind through different sized tunnels or something - there's just this really skin-crawlingly dark spooky noise spread throughout the album -- especially in the track "Watchfire," which I consider to be the smartest song on the album. The only other tracks I would praise left and right are "From The Hill," a slow loud trudging orchestral number with an intriguing and emotional chord sequence, and "Resound," which is a short instrumental revolving around a scary speed-manipulated bell. Kinda like "Hells Bells" but without the scholarly line "I got my bell, I'm gonna take you to Hell."

So thank you Noah Landis. As for the rest of the band - TRY THE TINIEST BIT TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING NEW. Especially the guitarist, who does WAY too much of the old "chord goes up, chord goes down" thing for my personal American tastes. Darn son of a bean.

Flob you, you flammy son of a booster! I'll shove my corncobdiddlydoo up your astropop!

Reader Comments

acidpixie666@hotmail.com
what the hell are you thinking talking all that shit about A Sun That Never Sets? the first time i heard that album i was on LSD, and ever since then it remains one of the best cds i've ever heard. when you're in a vulnerable state like that, this cd takes you away, it rips you apart while at the same time giving you the most beautiful and wonderful sensation you've ever felt. everyone in the room felt it. upon later discussion we decided it was like a musical orgasm. there are parts of the music that affect your subconscious, manipulating your feelings. you don't realize it sober but trippin you can hear another even more complex part in the music, and you can see it too. take acid and listen to it, man, you'll change your mind.

icyuod@hotmail.com (Kinky Afro)
Seeing as I'm not a junkie loser, let me offer a lucid opinion on this album. First of all, terrible terrible cover - remember kids, computer art is rubbish. The first Neurosis album I bought, Through Silver In Blood, was on a whim based on the cool cover. The music itself was nothing like I had heard before - really mind-opening; kind of apocalyptic but strangely cathartic. This album, in comparison, is really bleak and harsh. The calm/heavy approach that worked so well on TSIB is now painfully blatant and thus, makes you cringe on first listen. It also lacks coherence and while the trademark end-of-the-world vibe is ever-present, the songs seem to stand separate from each other. Apart from the frighteningly Danzig-esque Falling Unknown, the singing is too croaky, often going nowhere at all. There are a few parts, mostly when it slows down, that show their talent in sound layering but it's not enough. I can't even say, 'well at least the cover is cool.'

rye00@hotmail.com
this album is awful. almost as bad as scott kelly's solo cd. *vomit* like mark said, the 'chord goes up, chord goes down' 'slow heavy' thing has gotten extremely old. not to mention whoever is singing just isn't a wonderful vocalist when he isn't screaming. it's sad that it takes acid to make this album interesting. i hope neurosis breaks up now.

Lewis480@cs.com
neurosis doesnt suck. thats one bad cd out of eight. its noit even that bad, its just that they sing too much otherwise its good. "chord goes up, chord goes down?" dont think so dumb ass..... fuck you neurosis wont break up.

laqueteremil@hotmail.com
Ive heard the sun tha never set, it feels like the band is realy focus on what they want, i realy like this album. i have heard through silver in blood and is extremelly interesting, but its to hard to find some material of this guys here, in argentina. Im in Cordoba, see if you can do somethimg about it. i want ton hear more, here is a new fan, good luck and cheers for these album

stevenmiller999@hotmail.com
Taking acid does not make you a junkie loser.

rattaway@stardreams.net
Hello Mark again.

Well I have to say after listening to Neurosis's "Times of Grace" I wanted to hear more of their stuff. I had already heard a bunch of their singles off of ASTNS before any other album, so I decided to go with this album.

First I would like to say, I did enjoy the album. The album takes you onto a world on the brink of its end. Much like the epic overture that was "2001: A Space Odyssey," this album to me sounds just as equal. The album storms through your speakers like the Bataan Death March, giving you front row for the Apocalypse. Scott Kelly's voice is harsh and unforgiving, while Steve Von Till is that of the Black Plague lullaby, as Dave Edwardson voice screams war against the weak. Above all my favorite part of the album would have to be the ending song, "Stones From the Sky." It was that world's final moment and you heard it on tape along as felt it.

On the other hand, the biggest drawback for this album is its pace. Think of it as a slow gas pump; you want to listen to it, but you don't know if you have the time to do so. You enjoy the view, but after a while you start thinking, "Man, I need to be hitting the road soon. I wonder what's taking so long." Lyrics, from what you can make out, are not that clear as to what they want you to intake. Though they're not as bad as Cedric Bixler-Zavala's lyrics, they are almost as bad.

Over all, this was a good album, not great, but good nonetheless. If my voice counted, I would have given ASTNS an 8 out of 10, but hey they only judge can be you the reader.

PS: If you need LSD or any other kind of drug to enjoy an album, but not when you're sober, then that's not a very good album now is it.

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Neurosis & Jarboe - Neurot 2003
Rating = 7

In a kind-hearted effort to give Steve Von Till's scream a well-deserved day off, Neurosis decided to do one of those fancy "tapes recorded through the mail" deals with former Swans female chartreuse Jar Jar Binks. In celebration, I wrote a song about it:

Jar Jar Binks was a hell of a Sphinx
And a hell of a Sphinx was that Jar Jar Binks

A killer cat who would tell you a riddle
That's Jar Jar Binks! Playin' a fiddle

Jar Jar Binks was a hell of a Sphinx
And a hell of a Sphinx was that Jar Jar Binks

Way back in the days of mythology
Jar Jar Binks would make you pay a fee

Jar Jar Binks was a hell of a Sphinx
And a hell of a Sphinx was that Jar Jar Binks

If you're up to date on your Edith Hamilton
You'll know Jar Jar Binks was a Sphinx, not a catamaran

Jar Jar Binks was a hell of a Sphinx
And a hell of a Sphinx was that Jar Jar Binks

Jar Jar Binks didn't need no shitter
He was a Sphinx! He used kitty litter!

Jar Jar Binks was a hell of a Sphinx
And a hell of a Sphinx was that Jar Jar Binks

You wouldn't be worried 'bout no cenataur
When Jar Jar Binks would come along in his car

Jar Jar Binks was a hell of a Sphinx
And a hell of a Sphinx was that Jar Jar Binks

Everyone knows that a penis stinks
But not half as bad as that Jar Jar Binks!

Jar Jar Binks was a hell of a Sphinx
And a hell of a Sphinx was that Jar Jar Binks

Jar Jar Binks was a hell of a Sphinx
And a hell of a Sphinx was that Jar Jar Binks

Jar Jar Binks was a hell of a Sphinx
And a hell of a Sphinx was that Jar Jar Binks

Jar Jar Binks was a hell of a Sphinx
And a hell of a Sphinx was that Jar Jar Binks

(fade out)

The bottom line here is that Neurosis have not at all stuck to their old loud annoying slow metal style, instead learning a Swans lesson or two about the unlikely success of something called "dynamics." Granted, these "dynamics" have resulted in a CD that you can't listen to during the summer because either your air conditioner will drown out all the quiet parts or you'll unsuspectingly turn the volume way way up and have your speakers destroyed when the loud parts come in. Interestingly, not even these loud parts are of the brutal sort preferred by a younger Neurosis; mainly it's just the difference between a nail-biting, near-silent wisp of wind and distorted fear, and the same plus a distorted guitar. However, what it really sounds like more than anything to me personally is a whole bunch of incomplete, disturbing musical statements full of coffin-scratching noises of non-humanity. The guitar "lines" are generally made up of two or three echoing minor-key notes, the big gigantic beats are sub-slow and pumped up far past the distortion point, and Jarboe alternates between lost little girl singing, angry Liz Phair screaming and unsettling Southernly accented speech -- but that's not what you'll notice most. The winner of that sweepstakes is the horrifying collection of just completely fucked up, unrecognizable thumping, staticy and windy noises riding atop nearly every song on here. Take "Receive," for example. What the hell is that thumping noise? The heartbeat of a dying man? Or "Seizure"! Am I a member of Unsane or is that entire rhythm track built out of the looped static from the end of an old record album?

If I am to complain, it is due to the dull repetition of some of the tracks. Nobody needs to hear the phrase "I try to remember/Everything that's lost" repeated over and over and over for 11 minutes, nor do they need to hear Jarboe SCREAMING "Define Me Defy me Defile me" 609 times in a row. And don't even get me STARTED about the "Jar Jar Binks was a hell of a Sphinx" song. Lyrically, Jarboe is as full of overwrought sadness as she has always been (see her daily journal on www.thelivingjarboe.com for an indication of what a "fun gal" she must be). However, the track "His Last Words" is as stunning and harrowing a description of paternal passing as Unrest's "June": "When you're 'high'/If you could see what I see/In your unfocused empty child-like eyes/You'd see my father's blue stare/And the horror/Of the loss of language of an educated man/He recited poems and Shakespeare/Knew the name of every tree in Latin memory/The unjust cruel sentencing of bewilderment/And the dying of the brain/His last words to me from surgery/His last words: 'burning burning.'"

YIKES! I'm getting chill bumps on my goose!

So did Neurosis learn a non-metal lesson from their little long-distance experiment with the feminine wiles of Jarhead? Scroll downwards for recognition!

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The Eye Of Every Storm - Neurot 2004
Rating = 7

Yeah, they did. They learned to stop blasting their loud screaming heavy metal nonsense. That's a game for children, like rules are. Do you follow rules because they are rules? That's a child's mentality. Follow an adult morality. Unless you're a murderous psychopath in life. So let's talk about this new Neurosis album and immediately define it as one that differs quite dramatically from the pre-Jarboe releases. You see -- it's not loud! In fact, it's so fugwing quiet, I have to keep turning the fugwing thing up to hear it over the ice radiator! But I have to keep the ice radiator flowing - it's mid-July and my eyeballs are sweaty. But still, that's the nature of this Y2K-plus era Neurosis. Quiet Slint-like post-rock depression/sorrow/longing dual-guitar lines plinker and arpedge along until some unspecified breaking point occurs, at which point everyone (driven by the drummer) starts hitting their strings harder. But it's not metal at all. It's more like late-period Swans -- just a long recording of confusion, loss, angst and hopelessness, higlighted by brief moments of incredible beauty.

As a tribute to just one of many asinine comments I made during a job interview today, I'm going to start a new paragraph here. I don't even want to go into the asinine comment - let's just pretend I've never applied for a job and I'm still like six. Neurossiisis's guitar tones are heartsqueezingly chiming and harrowingly delicate on these tracks, and the dual-guitar-and-bass interplay is kept to a pleasing maximum during the finest tracks ("Burn," "No River To Take Me Home" and "Left To Wander"). Also, Steve Von Till's voice sounds terrific; rather than screaming, he is shaking and singing in a secretive, untrusting quaver similar to that of Whatsisname Fellow from Thin White Rope. Guy Kyser? Is he the singer? I'll be good and goddamned if I'm going to spend 15 minutes trying to find the answer on the "All New! Improved! Slow!" All Music Shit Guide Of Assholes.

Unlike an album with one chord on it, these eight songs develop over time, bringing in different guitar lines, waves of strange noise (don't fail to not miss the booming thunderstorm/explosion noise that makes up part of the rhythmic track in "Burn"!) and more slow tempos than you can shake my dick at. But please try anyway!

Best,
Steven Tyler
Vomitous Elderly Gross Man

I wrote something in my notes, but I can't read all of it. It says something like "SUDNY meets SWANS." Does that mean anything to you? That first word might actually be "SLINT," but it sure doesn't look like "SLINT." What could "SUDNY" be?

Ah! I've got it. The Special Underwear Department of New York.

The only problem with this CD as I see it as a highly-nonpaid critic and argumentator is that the songs go on forever, and some of them just aren't complex or memorable enough to deserve their ridiculous lengths. Take the 12-minute title track for example. It basically has two goddamned chords. Sure, they're presented in different ways, with different noises, blurbs, boops and clankles, but it's still two chords over and over and over again. I understand that bands like Neurosis consider repetition to be a "tool" towards achieving some punishing goal, but I don't go to Ace Hardware to buy my music and not a single nail in my home was hammered in by a song that doesn't go anywhere.

Except for the guest bedroom, which was built by "American Pie" while I was at the nursery taking a shit. But I don't actually consider the guest bedroom a PART of my home, any more than I consider a guest a PART of my life, so as Jesse Jackson might say, "The question is moot."

To sum up: Excruciatingly slow and still as hard on the brain as ever, but only through endless repetition of cry-worthy melody (not through blasting your head with distorted smash-em-up). Fans of the Post-Rock genre - THIS is the Neurosis album for you!

Fans of the Poster-Children - Did it take you five billion years to finally be able to see the artwork on the cover of Tool Of The Man? It did me indeed. I had much better luck with Dave Matthews' Remember Two Things (it's a hand giving the peace sign! But see, that's the wonder of Magic Eye artwork, and the reason that in twenty years, the entire Metropolitan Museum of Art will be full of nothing but it. It's because, in touching us to view the world around us in a completely different way in order to see "the whole picture" (as it were), the artists of the Magic Eye are at the same time completely blinding us. We won't be able to see any other kind of art in 20 years because our eyes will permanently be crossed from looking at so many fucking Magic Fucking Eye Fucking pieces of

Say, did somebody mention "Eye Fucking"? Well, you're in luck because I just launched a brand new magazine! Check your local adult bookstore soon for Mark Prindle's "Eyeballin'"!

Reader Comments

opeth1213@yahoo.com (Eric D.)
this one is taking a little longer to get into than previous Neurosis albums, it looks to me like they're getting more difficult with each album. Sounds kinda like a mixture between the last two, if that makes sense. Hey, I think i'm starting to like it more and more each time I listen to it... 8/10.

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Given To The Rising - Neurot 2007
Rating = 7

Oh, it's a beautiful sunny day!
In every wonderful way!
The trees are singing and the aeroplanes are winging
And the sun is shining oh so gay!
It's a beautiful sunny day!

(*listens to first five minutes of new Neurosis CD*)

(*murders self, and God*)

Okay, forget that "they're quiet now" summation of the last album. America's goodest-time rock 'n' rollers are back with another cheerful collection of LOUD AS SHIT, slow, heavy, screamy, eerie, depressing, melodramatic songs that drag on forever (7 of the 10 songs are over 7 minutes long!). But I must tell you: I realize a '7' doesn't seem like that high a grade, but when this band is "ON" - as they often are on this release - they are amazing. Not only are they tonal geniuses whose mixture of heavy distorted guitars and disturbing electronic/ambient noises will keep your ear cocked to the speakers at all times; their punishing, hopeless riffs are unique, memorable and even catchy.

"Catchy? Neurosis? Are you high on airplane paste?" That's you asking that.

Try the driving bendy-upwards-to-down-note passage that drives the first half of "Fear And Sickness" (before it turns into piercing high-end torture). Or the emo I SWEAR TO GOD IT'S FUCKING EMO!!! first half of "To The Wind" (before it turns into Black Sabbath). Or the hopeful but anxious intro riff to "Water Is Not Enough" (before it turns into swarming cicadas). These parts are wonderfully melodic! Not happy, mind you, but certainly worthy of getting stuck in your head.

Still, as you might gather from that last paragraph's parenthetical phrases, 'catchiness' isn't exactly foremost in the band members' minds. They're more concerned with making you feel something -- you know what just occurred to me? In mid-sentence there? At their best, Neurosis is kinda like the thinking man's Tool. They use the same epic song lengths, dark mood and pained melodrama, but their songs are a million times more melodically interesting, their loud-to-quiet dynamics actually make logical sense, and most importantly, the drummer doesn't get a 5-minute bongo solo in the middle of every song. Neurosis is slow as shit though, and that's a hard hurdle to cross I'll admit. Okay - how about the thinking man's Type O Negative then?

Although every song is long, they are by no means repetitive. Most come with several different parts, gunning the ramut from headsmashing trudge metal to beautifully hopeless guitar/keyboard interplay to ominous electronic bedding to purposely ugly blasts of boring, off-putting guitar racket. The one exception (aside from two brief tone poems) is "At The End Of The Road," an 8 and a half minute bile movement that may be the slowest 'slow builder' I have ever heard outside of Joe Preston's solo EP. It takes for fucking EVER to get where it's going -- which is nowhere at all!!!

So why only a 7, you've got to be wondering after all this time. Well, mainly due to those 'purposely ugly blasts of boring, off-putting guitar racket' I mentioned above. I love Neurosis when they're being purposely threatening or depressed or foreboding, but my pleasure sockets don't expel helium upon encountering yucky, boring, pissy-breathed guitar parts of unpleasantness. Take "Distill (Watching The Swarm)" for example. That entire song represents everything I hate about Neurosis. Its pounding, repetitive, hookless dissonance creates a mood that is neither sad nor angry (let alone suicidal or apocalyptic), but simply irritating. And I don't know about you, but I find irritating things annoying. Take irritable bowel syndrome, for example. I don't mean to be contrary, but I in all honesty find it annoying when I expel gallon after gallon of brown stinky liquid poop all over an entire busload of commuters. And I can't imagine it's any big deal to them, but it is to me.

I haven't made up any jokes in a long time, and I think the world is a little less happy for it, so let's give it a try:

How many members of Neurosis does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Only one, but it takes him like half an hour

Why did the member of Neurosis cross the road?
To scream at a chicken

Knock knock
Who's there?
A member of Neurosis
A member of Neurosis who?
No no, I said "a member of your own Sis." I'm your sister's penis!

What do you get when you cross Halle Barry with Neurosis?
Halitosis!
(if you perform cunnilungus on Halle Barry before crossing her with Neurosis)

What did Bruce Springsteen say when he met Neurosis after his 2002 gig at a local chili stand?
Hey, I don't like that Fart Review that you've just 'given to The Rising.'

What does Neurosis have in common with the Olsen Twins?
Six pairs of sweaty, hairy balls!

Okay, enough humor. Let's get back to the somber business of reviewing an album.

.

.

.

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DEATH.

Reader Comments

amoy3r@gmail.com
I have to give this a 9/10

This is my favorite metal album of the year next to Sigh's Hangman's Hymn and Alcest - Souvenirs d'un Auntre Monde or something french. Fuck those French black metallers anyway. They don't have freedom.

It's funny that I listen to black metal, me being black and all.

Yea but this was a big breath of fresh Neurosis air to me. Completely new atmosphere and feeling I get when I hear this. Fucking I love it, it has those clever parts that make you go 'oh' its pounding at times, melodic, and experimental.

The guitar racket is in fact annoying, I can agree with that, at first I was digging it because I like noise and music experimentation but it's too long.

It's crazy how influential Neurosis are now; I was watching this video about UGZ Speed Trials Grindcore festival thing and there were alot of Neurosis shirts. FOR GRINDCORE! But this isn't it, I discovered (they weren't that good) two newish bands that are influenced by Neurosis, 100 Suns who are like black metal influenced, and Middian. Both of these bands owe their existence to Neurosis, not to mention bands like ISIS, Rosetta, Cult of Luna, Pelican, and probably the best mainstream metal band Mastodon at some point were Neurosis worship.

Well to be fair, the Melvins started it all.

spinaltomek@hotmail.com
i saw neurosis live yesterday in berlin and i was blown away. i rarely listen to this kind of music, but i always thought neurosis where interesting. man you have to see them live to get the full experience. now i listen to the whole thing again and it makes total sense. you see, when you play this stuff loud and live you never get tired of the repetitions, you never get tired of the heaviness, the ugliness, its just fascinating. this sound is one brutal machine. great great stuff. also scott kelley hit the microphone so hard with his forehead he was bleeding heavily throughout the last two songs (probably) without even noticing. 'given to the rising' is a good album by the way.

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