In a career spanning 25 years, Neurosis have grown from a small DIY band borne out of the Californian hardcore scene to one of the most influential names in experimental metal. The Oakland sextet paved the way for artists like Mastodon and Isis to pursue their leftfield, avant-garde dispositions and in the process cemented their stature as supreme lords of all things abstract and sludgey in our world. Few have maintained such perpetual artistic integrity throughout the decades, and despite wandering deeper and deeper into the realms of the obscure, Neurosis have held onto their crust punk ethos and hardcore roots with a very firm grip.
After a nail-biting five years since Given To The Rising, the post-metal pioneers are back with their 10th studio album, Honor Found In Decay – the next body of work in a catalogue that is as spiritual and reflective as it is overwhelmingly naked and openly aggrieved.
Opener We All Rage In Gold is the perfect blend of incandescent atmospherics, stoner grooves and haunting vocals we’ve grown to expect from Neurosis: grand realisations of mind-melting proportions that register deep within the human spirit. The melodies are distilled, with few distractions from the main themes that lie at the very heart of the band – this is honest music and its message is very much undiluted. Scott Kelly’s unmistakable whiskey-soaked vocals open At The Well with profound introspection, laying down his inner soul above the lush tremolo guitar tones shuddering beneath him.
Moments of sheer minimalist beauty are matched by others of raging, neanderthalistic anger, coming to fruition as a storm of fuzz. My Heart For Deliverance features some of the most uplifting music Neurosis have ever recorded, sandwiched in between slabs of thunderous doom that guide the listener through heightened states of psychosis, sensitivity and self-awareness.
There’s something about the scarred world of Neurosis that effortlessly captures the abject misery that torments mankind, rooting from the gloom and wonder of living on a crumbling planet with little idea of who we are and why we are here. That said, it’s not all organic and gritty – the cold electronics that lie at the heart of Bleeding The Pig add alien colours to an otherwise earthy affair, as do the swirling ambiences of album closer Raise The Dawn.
From beginning to end, this record is utterly captivating and will stand shoulder to shoulder next to the very best work the Californians have put out over a career of unrivalled artistic merit. As with any Neurosis record, Honor Found In Decay is by no means easy listening, immediate or accessible – if anything, it seems to luxuriate in making time stand still over a sustained period that is explicit, not to mention emotionally draining.
If you’re looking for cheap hooks or the musical plat du jour, you won’t find it here, but if you’re after music that is rich in deeper meaning and celestial wonderment from a band that exist at the very centre of the alternative, this could quite possibly be the best thing you’ll hear all year.