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Neurosis are a band whom needs no introduction within the underground metal scene. Having been pumping out music for over 20 years, including stellar albums such as the agressive, apocalyptic monster that was "Through Silver In Blood" (often hailed as the band's magnum opus), the foreboding, folk rock-ish "A Sun That Never Sets" and the unforgettable gigantic slab of noise that was "Enemy of the Sun".
Neurosis also go through a process which all bands must go through in their lives - evolution. Sometimes, so called evolution can be disastrous - let's not discuss Metallica, shall we? But for Neurosis, evolution is an important part of the band's sound. They began as a hardcore punk band in the mid to late 80's, knocking out two agressive thrashing punk albums, "Pain of Mind" and "Word as Law". Later on, the band first showed the world their true genious with "Souls at Zero", followed by quite possibly the two most foreboding records you will ever hear - the aforomentioned "Enemy of the Sun" and "Through Silver in Blood".
After a three year hiatus following the release of "A Sun That Never Sets", the Californian post-metal pioneers finally rearrived in 2004 with their massive 8th album "The Eye of Every Storm".
To many long time Neurosis fans, this album was a shock. Neurosis had explored their softer sounds on "A Sun That Never Sets", but this album is their most experimental to date, which is saying much for Neurosis. With this album, Neurosis have managed to successfully blend extreme heaviness with soothing ambience and melancholy. The opening track, "Burn", which is rather upbeat (for a Neurosis song, anyway), immediately kicks the listener into submission with tribal drumming, grunge-ish guitar riffs, and the gritty, angsty vocals of frontman Scott Kelly. This continues on for a short while, but then around the 3 minute mark the song finally dies down to be replaced by soft drumming barely playing in the background and some ambient sounds with Scott Kelly continuing to chant in his accented, almost spoken-word vocals, and once again the song kicks your ass, then stops again, and so on and so forth.
I also spent alot of time on Kelly's vocals - compared to other Neurosis albums, where he sung in an ear shattering, throat rupturing hardcore-esque and wholly honest scream, he does alot of beautiful gritty clean singing on this album. Neurosis fans need not worry, though - Scott still gives off the occasional scream once in a while, but besides this, he will likely still be able to please the most avid TSIB fans with his honest and captivating clean-style.
The title-track, "The Eye Of Every Storm", is the pinnacle of the album. It's the title-track and longest song (11:58) for a good reason. There is much experimentation on this song, and is one of the softer of the 8 songs. The first line Kelly musters is the inspiring "A wind carries your scent to those who will find you out". This song has an even more post-rockish sound than some of the other songs on this album, and would not be shunned on an Explosions in the Sky album. Around the 5 minute mark, everything stops dead in it's tracks to be replaced by a deep humming sound, followed by the lone vocals of Kelly, who suddenly barks out at 6:22 - "Now oath breaker sinks low!" The band finally aches back in with their post-rockish sound at the 9 minute mark. The song finally climaxes at the 10:12 mark, and from then on, it becomes some of the greatest post-rock/metal riffing you will ever hear. There is another 11+ minute epic somewhere later on in this album, entitled "Bridges" but I don't think it musters up as much emotion as the aforomentioned title track, though "Bridges" is still a great song in itself.
The title track isn't the only highlight here, though. The closing track, "I Can See You" is a great way to end the album - a thought-provoking, deeply saddening tale of the loss of a loved one. Here Kelly sings to his fullest in all the song's heart wrenching glory. Like many other tracks on this album, it lulls you into a soothing trance within the first few minutes, and then cruelly pushes you down the next, repeating the proccess.
Beauty, passion, emotion, and heart are not usually the things a person looks for in metal music, and would make one question if it is actually metal music in the first place, if it were to be casually described in words. But no - Neurosis is 100% metal, but like any good underground musician refuse to stray into the stereotypes of metal music. Neurosis, despite having changed their sound so much over the years, have always remained a consistent and powerful band who honestly and truly care about their music. While albums like "Through Silver in Blood" and "Enemy Of The Sun" may be the most glorified by other fans of this band, and while they are both great album, they are unparralled compared to the beauty, scale and passion of "The Eye of Every Storm".
Personal album highlights: "The Eye of Every Storm", "I Can See You", "A Season In The Sky".
Widely held to be one of the cornerstones in the post-metal world, the reputation and legendary status of Neurosis is not in question here. Along with Isis, the band innovated a genre which has now legions of adherents behind it. As with many great bands though, the sound most often changes, or develops from album to album. Ideally, this sound either reivents the band's existing sound into something even more exciting, or changes things up completely, for better or worse. In Neurosis' case with 'The Eye Of Every Storm', the sound has certainly become more mature from their earlier work. However, while the essence of the band is here, Neurosis seems to lack the same intensity and excitement that initially drew me into the band.
Topping seventy minutes in length, one can expect Neurosis to be in this for the long haul; 'The Eye Of Every Storm' is a record that certainly tests the patience of the listener. The ideas are drawn out, and often there will be large breaks from the more metal leaning moments. In fact, the greater part of 'The Eye Of Every Storm' relies moreso on a sombre mellow sound that keeps the same introspective and brooding vibe, but conveys it in a very different light. More often than not, the sludgy guitar textures are exchanged for electronic atmospherics, or minimalistic instrumentation. For these long winded passages, the focus is almost entirely on the gravelly voice of Scott Kelly, of whom this almost feels like a solo album. Much of what 'The Eye Of Every Storm' has to offer revolves around Kelly's distinctive vocals, at times belting but- in the case of this album particularly- resorting to a very sombre croon. Granted that the man's voice is not for anyone, but the really deadpan and rough delivery throughout the most mellow parts does wear thin regardless.
Where Neurosis still strikes gold is with the heavier metal sections, but most of all, the lyrics. Based on what has already been said about Kelly's voice being the centrepiece of the album, the lyrics become that much more important. Although the music often borders on stagnation, there is the sense that this is the work of a weathered poet; rough emotion etches through almost every verse, and it makes 'The Eye Of Every Storm' a surprisingly contemplative effort from these experienced post-metallers. The 'metal' moments here are fairly few and far between, but given the mellowness of the rest of the music here, the dynamics do get more powerful than they would be otherwise, and Neurosis still has a penchant for tasty guitar textures intact.
A disappointing album in some respects, but a reaffirming one in others. All the same, Neurosis has no lack of ambition here, and although the music may not be as enjoyable to me as I was hoping it to, I can still hear the artistic passion in the work of this band.
The Eye of Every Storm is another fine example of the ever changing nature of Neurosis. As a fan, you have to become quickly accustomed to transformation on a major scale. This time round, to me, it comes in the form of the subtle aggressiveness, as opposed to previous outings where Neurosis have been out right and straight forward and the difference in soundscapes. Both aspects appear to be somewhat different from they were on previous full-lengths.
For instance, Through Silver In Blood had a dirty and unpolished sound which suited the style at the time, but The Eye of Every Storm has instead created long drawn out ambient passages by using heavily distorted down tuned guitars, a synthesiser and a less aggressive approach to the vocals. Subtlety is the main aim in portraying the lyrical themes the band spits forth with a harsh tongue.
"A wind carries your scent to those who will found you out
A storm forces you down to seek shelter from the rain"
In my opinion, these very lyrics act as a metaphor for the bands progression into a more humble force, as opposed to the savage beast they once were. The first line represents the fact that Neurosis have a very distinctive sound unparalleled to any other and that no matter how many times they change that sound, it can still be recognised. The second line represents my previous point that Neurosis have decided to make a much more subtle approach on this very full-length. The adoring public may have become used to Neurosis playing in a hard and harsh manner, therefore they have decided to mix it up a little. This fresh approach is very appealing. Noah Landis becomes a very pivotal member in this instance as he has a helping hand in creating the swirling ambience.
Neurosis have always had the ability to entrance it's audience with slow melodies, rasping vocals and emotive lyrics, all of which are appealing to the senses. As well as this, Neurosis have always had the ability to conjure emotions, twist them until they reach breaking point and force the listener to have an out of body experience by sweeping them away with their beautiful tones and textures, driving drum beats and particularly on The Eye of Every Storm the difference in soundscapes to previous albums.
"In the void the stones are turning and turning and turning"
That particular line sums up the entire album for me. Taken from the track I Can See You, it acts as a metaphor for the albums atmospheric nature. It's picturesque feel manages to take something ordinary and make it stunning. The eerie, yet solemn atmosphere creates a certain diversity in sound, which is refreshing to hear. Hypnotising and spellbinding. Perhaps the greatest thing about The Eye of Every Storm is the lyrics. I can spot potential metaphors everywhere and it pleases me greatly to be able to sit and analyse decent lyrics for once. Lyrics that depict the very feelings I go through each time I hear this record. The vivid imagery and connotations of colour are vastly appealing. From:
"This world of cold stone gives nothing in return
To those who sleep while the restless burn
There are those few driven to flame
Most are content to drown in the wake of dreams"
During the unsuspectingly quite upbeat track Burn, which seemingly depicts the struggles we face in day-to-day life. Working hard in a cold world which gives little in return and for those few who succeed even more drown in the wake of dreams. Fighting lost causes and losing battles before they have begun. To anything else that stirs an emotion in the listener.
An intense ambient journey from darkness to light. Despair to hope. My personal highlight is 'I Can See You'.
Neurosis. When the name comes to mind, I can't help but think of an ever-changing, introspective yet purely degenerate state of mind. Snaking through the consciousness, filling in grey areas with even more grey. Bleak and solemn, yet still emotive enough to create feelings of happiness, The Eye of Every Storm is a musical masterpiece for those who like to hang around inside their own head.
The lead track, "Burn", is fitting of that description. Starting off slightly more energetic than any other Neurosis track, it catapults you into the realm that the band lives in, and you can feel every push and pull of the atmosphere. But this isn't any other arty post-metal/post-rock atmosphere that most bands utilize, this is straight up blue jeans and black t-shirt metal, no metaphysical/esoteric bullshit. Anyone can listen to and enjoy Neurosis, and the track "Burn" makes it blatantly clear, going from the upbeat tempo of the introduction to a very atmospheric break (with intense vocals by S. Kelly), until the last final shout where the song explodes. A song ending worthy of any Neurosis album, it sets you up for the melancholic mood of the next track.
"No River to Take Me Home" starts off with a slow, hypnotizing riff that circles around your head, like a vulture waiting for prey. The whole track track however, serves as lead-in to the epic title track, "Eye of Every Storm". Nearly 12 minutes of apocalyptic ambiance (not the kind found of ToN's 'Grace' however), this track serves as the first magnum opus of the album. The vocal work is absolutely stunning, and at some times there is a slight feeling of loss of breath from the weight of this track alone. If they wanted to record a 70 minute song, this would serve as great groundwork.
Later on in the album, we come across the next magnum opus, "Bridges". Following in the same vein as the title track, it's an oppressive, moody and bleak amalgamation of ferocious heaviness, melody, and ambiance. The lyrics are some of the best, with the last lines (Your cup is empty and you are running out of time/Caving your head in, don't dare to dream it will implode) being my favourite. There's no use typing more about this track, just listen to it eleven times in a row and believe.
After being bludgeoned for the last hour, we're presented with a slight shift. The closing track "I Can See You" involves just acoustic guitar, cello and vocals during the first half, serving as a moment of release before the inevitable storm. And that's exactly what we're treated to for the last 4 minutes of the track, a heavy, cathartic and mind-bendingly bleak track. Don't play this around your mother.
Neurosis has had a long journey, and this is just another fork in the road for them. Time and time again they have chosen new paths, some parallel to each other, and some completely sideways and twisted. Yet it's all Neurosis, and all a masterpiece. Let's hope they have it in them for one more after 'Given to the Rising'.
One thing Neurosis won't ever be accused of is that they never change their sound. From the hardcore punk of Pain of Mind, to the draining, trance-metal of Enemy of the Sun, to the bleak, drawn out folky dirge of A Sun that Never Sets, and finally to this album. (And onwards to whatever their new one is going to have..). Yeah, this albums is pretty different from any other Neurosis release. It's lush and yet quite Minimalistic, it's repetitive but it still slowly evolves, trudging purposefully to the catharsis at the end of every song. Comparisons? Well, there's not really any good Metal albums that come close, except for maybe Panopticon, and that's pushing it. A better comparison might be Sigur Ros' Brackets album. They're both long, draining, meticulously orchestrated and really intense in their own way. Oh, they're both Masterpieces too.
Of course, that comparison will sound pretty false when the first song kicks in. 'Burn' is deceptively upbeat compared to the rest of the album, starting off with a big driving drum beat and some ringing, melodic guitars. Sure there's an ambient interlude in it, but the ending is so upbeat you may be asking yourself if this is really a Neurosis album. It's a nice song, but one that's out of place in an album otherwise full of doomy epics. The second song tells you what this album is about. There's dense, slow guitar riffs, that Neurosis vocal interplay we all know and love (no screaming, of course..), and a song that doesn't really seem to go anywhere, just hanging around in a introspective haze, until a perfectly placed guitar line brings along light and redemption. Indeed, almost every song here is really long and can be quite hard to originally take. Left to Wander and a Season in the Sky are both over the eight minute mark, and they both certainly take their time in getting anywhere, but when they do, it's majestic, intense, epic, and there's plenty of Neurosis-style light and redemption for everyone. The ending of Left to Wander is indeed intense.. It definitely brings to mind some Through Silver in Blood song, with strange filtered guitars and oscillators flying around, with a tribal beat behind it, until the whole thing gets filtered into some ringing synth. It's really powerful, and it definitely makes the long wait worth it.
Still, it would definitely be wrong to say that the album is just a series of really long builds. Maybe that's the one major difference between this and Brackets. Bridges is over eleven minutes long, but it's a nice ride. The drums are, as per usual, amazing, the piano is placed perfectly, and the vocals are really good. Just when you'll be getting bored, all these synths and bursts of noise will come out of nowhere, slap you round a bit, and then disappear back into the ether. Of course, nothing in this prepares you for some seriously epic, overwhelming distorted guitar. It's quite a shock when you have it up really loud! Bridges is a great song, showing Neurosis' impeccable command of really extreme quiet loud dynamics. Mogwai wish they could do this kind of stuff. After a few more huge dynamic shifts, we're left with some real nice riffs, probably the only riffs on this album that are reminiscent of earlier Neurosis.
A quick paragraph here should definitely be dedicated to the production. Put simply, it's amazing. Everything is crystal clear, there's lots of bass, every instrument is perfectly in it's place, there's heaps of dynamics. Yet despite the perfectly crisp production, it still sounds raw, still sounds passionate. Steve Albini and whoever Mastered this deserves some mad props. Along with Times of Grace (also by Neurosis), this is one of the best metal recordings in terms of production. If you're at all interested in producing records, buy this album and Times of Grace for a lesson on how to do it.
Well, it's kind of hard to say anything else about this. All of the songs are at a consistently high standard, although Burn does feel a little bit out of place. The production is excellent, but really, the best thing about this album is the songwriting. This album will definitely test some people's patience, but repeated listens reveal an excellent command of dynamics, brilliant layering, great guitar parts and a rock solid rythym section. As long as you don't mind long songs you shouldn't have any problem with this. Go out and buy it, and while you're at it, buy the rest of this band's discography.
Bands like Neurosis don't just come around quarterly. In the realm of bands like the might Isis, Red Sparowes, Cave-In, and Old Man Gloom, Neurosis take the helm of the artsy post-sludge/hardcore, but cleverly manage to escape being pigeon-holed into the same well of black turtle-neck wearing poofters like Dream Theater, or all those Gothic bands who claim their music is 'art.'
"The Eye of Every Storm" is Neurosis' latest take on music as art, and the band works wonders with their initially minimalistic sound as they layer textures upon texture until the music has progressed into something truly beautiful and touching, even if in a dark and cold way. The initial track "Burn" is a strong indication of where Neurosis are at in their interesting career, and is clearly indicative of how the album will play out. To match their lyrics, Neurosis have taken on an edict of allowing their music to evolve, more than it progresses. It starts out dissonant and heavy, and slowly forms into a theme that was much more than what it began with. By the time "Burn" has ended, you'll wonder if it was even the same song.
Of course, Neurosis still rely on an impossibly dense atmospheric ambience to get their points across. "No River to Take Me Home" and the album's title-track, "The Eye of Every Storm" are too of the most disdainful tunes you will ever hear, thanks mainly to the extremely clever mixing of the tracks and the ambience invested in them, even though the two songs sound absolutely nothing alike. "No River to Take Me Home" opens with a searingly mournful riff that just sounds lost, and developed into a very midpaced flow until the guitars hush, and a slightly soothing, quiet section rolls in with Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly delivering a chilling vocal performance. The title-track, though, is without a doubt the epic of the album. It opens with a mournful atmosphere provided by a very drolling bassline and nonaggressive drumming, while hints of guitars are distorted in the background very slowly. The first chorus consists of humming and feedback producing a melody that makes your heart feel like lead. At about the five minute mark, though, things shift into a depressive passage. Bass hits undulate like waves, sounding like a transmission of apprehension and anxiety. Ambient noises strike and squeal in and out of the atmosphere, and Steve Von Till provides eerie vocal chants, and out of the hushed anguish screams: "Now Oath-breaker sinks low." After the chants are over, distorted ghost notes amplify the intense internal discord, while the song continues to drone in an unsettling feeling that will stay with you until the end of the album.
The album evolves in a uniform fashion, until "Bridges," which any Neurosis fan will admit to never've seen coming. The largely acoustic track gives light into the complete power of Neurosis, by delivering a subtle, yet still mournful and atmospheric sound, and haunted vocals give way to an esoteric story of turmoil producing strength and beauty in form, which seems to be not only the lyrical, but musical theme of Neurosis' entire career.
"The Eye of Every Storm" is the type of album that many bands wish to make, but don't achieve. In the often minimalistic sound of Neurosis, they tend to give way to unimaginable feelings. They give you that creeping, yet amazing feeling that few artists are able to supply you with. Those goose-bumps that you get whenever your ears hear something that almost causes Stendhal syndrome. Amazing opus.
I’ve actually been waiting for Neurosis to slip up. Surely after seventeen years of releasing high quality material, the creative juices just have to dry up sometime. But like the very best wine, Neurosis just keeps on getting better with age. Neurosis is simply a stand-alone band - It doesn’t take a genius to realize that we’re talking about a very rare breed in the heavy music scene. Since 1985, with each and every album they have thrown at us, Neurosis has always been able to surprise. ‘The Eye of Every Storm’ is no different – it’s exactly what you expect from them, but as with everything they have done, there are always those subtle progressive changes that keep this band fresh. Quite simply, Neurosis is one of the very best heavy music acts in existence.
If you are a fan of Neurosis, you will have experienced and witnessed the bands metamorphosis from the oppressive Hardcore merchants they were in the early days to the dark, melancholic masters they are now. Like every record they have done, ‘TEOES’ is the result of the one before it. 2001’s ‘A Sun That Never Sets’ was the point in Neurosis’ career where a ‘vocal’ appreciation was developed. Hence, you will find this aspect to be the most noticeable progression made on ‘TEOES’. Other than the opening track ‘Burn’ where Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly pursue a more aggressive rasp, everything else is rather restrained and calming. The effect is rather dramatic, in the fact that one, this album becomes ‘vocally driven’ and two, that the colossal merging of their quiet passages with the heavy sections is accentuated even further. Furthermore, the vocal changes have allowed the bands dark, yet subtle melody lines to shine through – as a result, and quite unbelievably, Neurosis sound more confident in their musical direction than ever before.
There is no doubt that Neurosis strives for something different with every release. But it’s always subtle and never completely ignorant of their roots. In this regard, fans of the band can approach ‘TEOES’ with the confidence in knowing that this sounds very much like what you would expect. Just like every album before this, the ability of Neurosis to build a song with such hypnotic dexterity is on show - The deep melancholic moods, the tribal drum patterns, the drone-like ambient sections, the stunning movement between passages of serene quiet to powerful riff laden heavy climaxes are all here. Structurally, one could deride Neurosis for sticking to what are fairly common musical threads – songs that are built around the ebb and flow between peaks and valleys; the quiet and the heavy. Each and every track follow the same pattern. Thing is, as much as you know what’s coming, you can’t ignore it’s magical beauty. Neurosis have that uncanny ability to draw the listener in with a slow lulling atmosphere, and just when you think it done and over…BANG! - Cascading riffs and drums pound you into submission. Check out ‘the simply astounding ‘Bridges’ for proof - It’s irresistible.
One of the greatest aspects about Neurosis has always been their production values. TEOES is no different in this regard. Using Steve Albini (who has presided over the last three discs), the band has once again come up with a terrific sounding album. Albini has been able to capture that very ‘open’ and ‘sparse’ like atmosphere that is now a major part of what Neurosis do. The ambient soundscapes blend brilliantly with the quiet melancholic moments, whilst the drumming of Jason Roeder is once again given high emphasis in the mix (although, it doesn’t sound as ‘BIG’ as the ‘Times of Grace’ album) - Overall, a simply perfect production.
‘The Eye Of Every Storm’ is nothing short of colossal - One of the darkest and the most expressive pieces of work that Neurosis has ever unleashed. It goes without saying that it is an album that requires patience. Typically vast and lengthy compositions await you. Each bathed in that essential Neurosis magnetism. Without question, ‘The Eye..’ is one of the high water mark albums of 2004.