without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
We can call this one a classic, can't we? It's considered a monumental release by one of the most important experimental bands ever...not to mention "Souls at Zero" has stood the test of time and remains a mandatory listen for those of us that walk the thin line of genius and insanity which interconnects experimental metal with the rest of the world, so yea, why not? The sense of hidden horrors and equations of the unspeakable Neurosis achieved throughout “Souls at Zero” remains one of the most unique and haunting atmospheres ever captured. It's just one of those albums that has an undetectable presence to it; something unexplainably abstract, yet excellently molded.
And holy fish-sticks, it is a giant in a land of midgets. The dudes of Neurosis are excellent at writing songs that progress (key word) their identity with bizarre riffs, melodies, tunings, techniques, bass scales, vocal samples, and so many other inclusions that somehow collide and form Neurosis’ extraterrestrial genetics. But those of you not into abnormal equations will be quite fond of the mega-heavy production which crushes and grinds during every second. I’m sounding vague, but Neurosis are hard to describe; their approach here really can't be labeled with a genre-tag, as there are times when the band is simply out of definition. For example, Scott Kelly somehow manages his wailing yells to synthesize against the outlandish melodies and mechanical riffs that mince and pound in a strange, atmospheric equation beyond the realms of basic music throughout "To Crawl Under One's Skin," and the result is just...formless.
But the great thing about Neurosis is that this beast that blessed them...this possession of some ancient spirit that makes Neurosis so volatile and singular never, ever exiles. "Souls at Zero" does not have a concrete 'direction' that it follows. Instead, Neurosis are able to make each track stand on its own feet through stellar repetition on the title track(!) or creating psychotic interludes throughout "Flight." You need to really pay attention though: sometimes Neurosis will churn out an energetic, fast-paced riff that will suddenly be placed underneath slow percussion, soft guitar strums, and melancholic vocals instead of leading the band's charge; it sounds crazy and deceptive, but so fantastic at the same time.
The tribal influence Neurosis incorporates remains one of the group’s signature qualities, but its presence during “Souls at Zero” is in a strange, prototypical stage forming itself throughout flutes, keyboards, brass instruments, and Jason Roeder’s algorithmic percussion which correlates with tribal beats and sophistications. “Sterile Vision” and “A Chronology for Survival” are easily some of my favorite tracks from “Souls at Zero,” mainly because the tribal touch is so fluent and open-ended that the instrumental possibilities beneath said-feel adapt with Neurosis’ annihilative heaviness majestically, and produce wonderful, unique expressions. Additional perceptions make appearances too, such as Gregorian chant on “Stripped,” samples during “Takeahnase,” or cellos, horns, the whole orchestra of the underworld. There is simply too much experimental gold here; most attempt the feat, but Neurosis remains dimensions ahead.
I'm going to give you some guidance and tell you to just listen to the damn record, because no review or reviewer can properly channel its angular sense of depravity or the black divinity within its soul that flows like a leaf in rushing water with a five-paragraph analysis. "Souls at Zero" is something that needs to be heard to believed. Throw whatever preferences you have about experimental music out the window and let Neurosis cover your thoughts with its infinite depth of knowledge and rage...just be careful to not get lost in the maddening maze of torment yourself.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
I wasn't gonna bother reviewing an album that's nearly 20 years old cos so much has been done since then that it seems kinda pointless, but then I decided that I have to put my two cents in. "Souls At Zero" kicks ass. Always has, always will. I listen to it now and my opinion of it hasn't changed in 17 years. I don't like it cos it's nostalgic, I like it cos it's probably the best fuckin record I've ever heard.
Neurosis pissed off alot of punks when they made this album cos it was metal, though I'm not sure how many metalheads really got into it at the time. They dared to sonically purge their anger and sadness without giving a fuck about pleasing anybody or kissing their fans' asses. And that, my friends, is punk as fuck. I remember getting in arguments with my buddies back in the day cos I insisted that it's influenced by Pink Floyd (a major league no-no for punk music). Plenty of soft, gloomy guitar intros. Plenty of spoken word samples regarding insanity and humanity's demise. The Native American man warning that "we are not following the way of the Great Spirit" that leads into "Takeahnase" still sends chills up my spine. That song, by the way, is probably my favorite on the album, simple and catchy with a chorus that I find myself wishing would never end.
Still adhering to their punk roots, the talented bass-playing finds a decent level of prominence throughout the record. Like I said before, many of the songs start off soft and dreary before the guitars erupt. I'm a sucker for that shit. The opening song, "To Crawl Under One's Skin", has everything that I've mentioned so far in this review. The howling vocals harmonize with the chaotic yet melodic guitars perfectly. The only problem I have with it is that there's a simple little guitar riff towards the end of the song that I wish would've been in there longer.
The title track ends about three times before it actually ends. And by the time it does end, you're wondering if that wierd little insane asylum guitar lick is gonna come back around one more time and give you deja vu. This song goes really well with inhalants.
Well, fuck. I could go on about this all night, but the damn record's old enough that it doesn't really matter. Listen to it, though. It's not just good for its time, it's fuckin good. "Sterile Vision" is another of my favorite tracks, the vocals absolutely screaming the latter half of the song, somehow managing to utilize some kind of horn (sorry, I'm not a fuckin horn expert) in the midst of all the sadness and the madness and the badness. I like everything Neurosis has done since "Souls At Zero" but honestly, I don't think they ever topped it. Nobody else has, either.
Here we go, Neurosis, the ultimate influence and a band who simply loves to change with every full-length. 'Souls At Zero' was a major turning point in the careers of the Neurosis musicians at the time. It was signified by the transition from hardcore influenced music to amazing band we have today. This particular full-length is where Neurosis really started to experiment with their sound. Taking elements from a wide range of genres such as; post-hardcore, sludge and even the unique sound of tribal music which flows throughout every single Neurosis full-length since this one.
Experimentation is Neurosis' middle name. They dissect genres and bring them back to life, both new and improved. This is a band that has been granted a great deal of respect and admiration. 'Souls At Zero' is where that respect began to increase tenfold. It will go down in the history books of the metal genre for being where their career really began to take off and also, where the influence for so many others bands including; Isis, Cult Of Luna and many others took their influences from. 'Souls At Zero' isn't the highlight of a glittering career, but it certainly is an important full-length. As important as they get really.
When you strip the works of Neurosis down, what you find is a sea of complexity. Neurosis may seem simplistic on the surface, but what flows beneath is what counts. Neurosis are a bad to suit every mood and there aren't many bands that can say that. Neurosis have an astounding ability to be able to mesmerise. Listening to Neurosis is like taking a potent drug, it's intoxicating and captivating. Neurosis will invoke hallucination in the audience with their straight forward, no nonsense styling. 'Souls At Zero' is a unique full-length for several reasons. No one can deny how dazzling and delightful that tribal feel is. A vast array of textures is layered on to 'Souls At Zero'. It gets it's tribal feel from using keyboards, flutes, violins and whatever instruments the Neurosis musicians can get their hands on.
'Souls At Zero' is the epitome of experimentation. The use of several instruments allows Neurosis to showcase what brilliant musicians they are. Therefore, we can mark this full-length up when it comes to musicianship and songwriting, both of which are outstanding. Neurosis have come a long way since the days of their straight up hardcore style. This indicates that. Not at any stage does this style make Neurosis seem unprofessional. It's an accomplished piece of fine art. The musicianship is a stark indication of that. Everything has improved since the beginning. From the percussion to the vocals, it has all been bettered.
Neurosis have a wild side, that much is true. They like aggression and 'Souls At Zero' is packed full of it. This can be seen it the harsh riffs that tumble out from the speakers and the overwhelming vocals. Lyrically, Neurosis portray several different issues. They aim to connect with a wide ranging audience and their music certainly does so.
"Bury me in a shallow grave. So the rain will
wash me away. And the sun will burn my soul
and the earth will feed on me."
Using such imagery is healthy for Neurosis. It appeals to the senses in man. What with the sparkling vocal performance, these issues are brought across to the audience with anger, venom and wrath. Elements that make Neurosis a captivating listen. Neurosis' lyrics can always be analysed in great detail, which I love. I see Neurosis' lyrics as them using personification. "So the rain will wash me away" in particular. This feeling could be used to describe how Neurosis' ambient tribal sound washes over it's audience and feeds them with the necessities of life.
The production is thick and heavy, this is where the new sludge side to the band comes into play. It's an appealing new quality. It slowly enhances that aggressive feel that weaves it's way in and out of Neurosis' soul. Prepare for your being to be encapsulated by 'Souls At Zero'. This is Neurosis in all their spell binding glory.
In 1992 Neurosis released what was their best album, and one that would stand the test of time. Having heard Neurosis first on a mix tape given to me by a friend, I had to have more from this band. This was about 1995, I was about twelve at the time. So the first album I buy is Souls at Zero. Back then, I wasn't really sure what to think (considering I was going through a hardcore/punk phase). As I grew older, the album grew on me.
This album, for its time, was one of the only albums like this in metal. Yes one could say that bands like Christ on a Crutch and others were hinting at this, but nothing was recording previous of this enormity. This album reminds the listener of sludgy post-Neurosis bands (such as Buzzoven's Sore) but the album is really so much more than that. The guitar work on this album is not overdone or over distorted to the point of being overbearing, much like thier two later works. The vocals hold a certain emotion and fit the music perfectly. The drums have that Neurosis tribal feel to them, but a lot less percussion oriented than Enemy of the Sun. The music is slowed down from their previous hardcore works, but still a heavy slow, not slow as in a doom metal band, but a slow sound that sticks to your ears as you're listening.
Another interesting aspect of the album is use of instruments rarely found in metal (at least back in 1992). The accompanyment of violins, cellos, and french horns add a certain dynamic aspect that was not heard often in music of this caliber.
This album is not one to look at just in retrospect, because it holds its ground today. When faced with the opposition of the genre they created (Isis, Cult of Luna, etc). this album blows the others out of the water.
This album cleary shows the transition from the more hardcore oriented Word as Law to the more tribal feeling Through Silver in Blood (Enemy of the Sun furthered the sound a little more, but without the immense effect this album had).
This album is recommended to fans of sludgy styled metal, as well as anyone looking for an absolute metal classic. This album should be among every metalheads collection. Eleven years after purchasing this album, it is still constanty in my rotation.
The first song off this album I heard was "Takeahnase" (well, the demo version that's on the 'Enemy of the Sun' re-release), and I was blown away. When I finally bought the album and listened to it, I felt that it was easily one of the best metal albums ever. That was well over a year ago, and I still feel the same way. This is a practically perfect album. They took their early thrash/hardcore crossover sound and gave it a more experimental and progressive sound, like in the direction of later albums 'Through Silver in Blood' and 'Times of Grace.' The album is simply amazing. "Takeahnase," the opener "To Crawl Under One's Skin," and the title track are just simply fantastic, "The Web" and "Flight" must be great moshers at shows, and "Sterile Vision," "Stripped" and "A Chronology for Survival" are more laid back, but still rockout as much as everything else on the album. As for the short interlude tracks ("Zero" and "Empty"), you practically need them in there to balance everything out, and yet, they don't slow the album down at all.
Over the 12 years that have passed since this album's release, the band has changed quite a bit, many would say that their more recent sound is better than in the past, but 'Souls at Zero' will remain one of their best, period.