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Neurosis's discography can probably be divided into three parts. The crusty hardcore beginnings, into the dense progressive monster they where for much of the nineties, and finally into the more sparse and folk influenced that there last two albums were. While most of their 90's stuff is much loved and worshipped, you can only take one style of music too far. (Unless if you're in Slayer or AC/DC.) In this album, Neurosis take their dense Prog-metal as far as they could possibly do it, and at the same time, they start looking to new places to take their sounds. The result is a slightly disjointed but still fairly awesome cd.
The introduction is a deceptively gentle and atmospheric piece of mood setting, with some cool and unusual instrumentation, but as soon as the next song kicks in, all hell breaks loose. The Doorway is one of the heaviest songs Neurosis have ever done, with huge riffs and pounding drumming over some fierce and unnerving screaming. The guitars sound massive, and the production as a whole is far better then Through Silver in Blood. Steve Albini did a great job here. The next track is another old style Neurosis tune, full of the awesome tribal drumming and walls of guitar that Neurosis are known for.
There are a few surprises here though. Belief has some strange synths and there's a lot more focus on atmosphere, on tension, then there is in most Neurosis songs. Descent is a pretty cool interlude with some bagpipes and some great marching band style drumming. Sure it's just an interlude, but Neurosis had never done anything like that before. Away takes a very long time to go anywhere, and for the first six minutes or so it's a very slow, mellow jam with violin, piano, guitar and some clean vocals (!!!).
The only real complaint I have about this album is the track ordering, with the ending of the album being a bit anticlimatic. For the most part though, this is a very cool CD with a lot of different stuff being attempted. This CD is surely a few years ahead of it's time too. In 1999 Isis were still a crusty doom band, and Cult of Luna, Pelican, etc., probably hadn't even formed yet. The use of lots of different instruments is great too. Recommended!