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Neurosis are a band that don't need too much introduction. While their first two releases didn't set the world on fire, ever since then there's been nothing but monolithic albums full of tribal, punk, ambient and metal stuff that confounds and excites in equal measures. Jarboe may not be quite as well known, but she spent a fair bit of time in the different but equally strange group called Swans, and now she's collaborating with a fair bit of other weird groups. This record doesn't really live up to Neurosis's excellent 90's work, or most of Swans' stuff, but it's still really damn good.
The first track kicks in and you know you're in for a good, if harrowing time. A Neurosis tribal, tom heavy drum beat that we all love, some excellent instrumentation and some extreme dynamic shifts all creating a very mystifying experience, all of which is complemented by Jarboe's strange chanting. It's a great track but there's not really enough of a resolution to satisfy fully, which is probably the biggest problem in this album- that much of the songs don't seem to be fully developed in their structure, and however intoxicating they may originally be, they ultimately disappoint.
But while the lack of resolution in some tracks is disappointing, the music is probably among Neurosis's best. Sure, you won't find much trancey, pummelling Enemy of the Sun style riffs here, but instead, you find dense, droning, intoxicating layers of synths and sound. Seizure is a strange, spaced out country-drone thing with some good vocal interplay between Steve Von Till and Jarboe. Taker is another great tune, one that's somewhere between melody and dissonance, harmony and discord. It's freaking amazing, put simply, with some nice clean guitar over some heavy, and melodic guitar. It sounds a bit like some stuff of Times of Grace, and to be honest I don't see why they didn't just put Neurosis vocals over it.. but they didn't. It's real nice though.
Unfortunately, while Neurosis excel in this record, Jarboe doesn't do quite as well. She is by no means bad.. Her singing is decent and her lyrics are awesome.. But compared to the sweet tunes Neurosis come up with, Jarboe's efforts just don't really compare to Neurosis's music, and as such it drags the quality of the music down. Her effort in the first track is particularly disappointing, just consisting of a lot of spoken word, when the music calls for more, as does Taker. Also, the way her vocals were mixed is very frustrating, because it sounds like Jarboe is just singing over backing tracks. Maybe that was deliberate, but it definetly makes the music suffer as a result.
Nonetheless, this is a pretty damn good album. Neurosis do extremely well and while Jarboe could've done better, she could've done a lot worse. If the worst complaint is "The vocals weren't as awesome as I hoped" then you know your onto a good thing. Recommended, but strict metal fans won't find much for them here.