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Rather pointless but still cool - 75%

caspian, September 17th, 2010

The jury's still out on whether I'll have enough cash to see some very old neckbeards make a lot of noise in December- and whether they'll actually play any of their older, intense-r tunes- so for now this'll have to do. Allow me first up to take issue with the packaging or severe lack thereof- shit album cover, no gig photos, nothing. It's like they're asking for this to get pirated!

Still, all is forgiven when that punishing riff on The Doorway begins. The sound quality is pretty good and things are pretty close to the studio version, which I'm surprised about as based on the massive guitar tone this was played at a truly earth shattering volume. In general the set list is pretty cool- no Enemy of The Sun or Through Silver in Blood, unfortunately- but I am a bit miffed at the length of the thing. Yes, I know you guys get really into it live (I imagine everyone on the net by now has seen the "Locust Star at Ozzfest" videoclip) but c'mon, 58 minutes? Really? 6 songs?? Is it really too much to ask for, I dunno, 8? Not entirely sure if Neurosis were still a full touring band back in '99, but there's no excuse, really. Don't be lazy and play a bit more! There's a fair few bands that are much older, tour all the time and have no problem smashing through 15+ songs.

Stuff is intense, though. The claustrophobic mix helps a bit, but there's a lot of DEEP MANLY FEELINGS being emitted here, there's no doubt. Locust Star as expected crushes, it's a bit slower than the other live version I've heard, but that massive riff around the 5:30 mark will always cause me to lose my shit. Hugest riff, and a real simple one too- amazing what three or so chords (and overwhelming volume, of course) can do in the right context. As mentioned, most of the songs here deliver on the intensity and do a good representation of the studio material. They're the usual slow, brutal and completely inaccessible grinders that Neurosis were all about at this point of time; not something to get fans into the band, perhaps, but live albums never are.

Honestly I'm not entirely sold on the point of this release, it really does sound a lot like the album versions, a few subtle changes in riffs here and there but that's about it. Get this if you're a massive fan.

*joke about the french* - 84%

Pfuntner, May 19th, 2009

The Neurosis live experience is an immersive and overwhelming one. The band plays at crushing volumes in bleakly light surroundings while projections of haunting artwork flicker in the background. Where many live acts are forced to engage their audience in trite and gimmicky crowd participation antics or rock star clichés, Neurosis merely need to plug in, tune up, and DESTROY. No stage banter, no call and response, just a crushing and all encompassing atmosphere. The audience does not give energy to the performance; they simply gape in awe and suffer an hour long beating.

This particular bootleg was recorded during the tour for Times of Grace, Neurosis’s last true “heavy” album and as such half of the material here focuses on that album. Though the set list relies heavily on the claustrophobic and furious sludge metal of Neurosis’s middle period with fan favorites such as “The Doorway” or “Locust Star”, Neurosis also indulge in some more introspective material that would become their focus in the coming years. The first half of the set pummels the listener with riff after monolithic riff. “The Doorway” especially proves itself to be deadly potent in the live setting. The second half of the set begins with the haunting and hypnotic “Away” a song that demonstrates the growing ability of the band to manipulate tension and atmosphere using as little volume as possible. This is followed by an explosive rendition of “Locust Star”, which at 7 minutes feels oddly brief in this context. Finally Neurosis ends the concert with an appropriately epic performance of “Times of Grace.”

The songs aren’t all that different from their studio versions, which isn’t very surprising considering the live approach Neurosis use in the studio. While the performances are spot on, the production on this recording is definitely bootleg quality. The guitars sound huge enough, but the vocals drift in and out of the mix and the drums are very flat and dry. The recording has however perfectly captured the live sound of the keyboards and samples Neurosis use. Keyboards squeal and rumble across all of the tracks bringing some of the more subtle elements of the Neurosis sound to the forefront.

To this day there exists no accurate replacement for seeing this band live in concert but this bootleg does its best job. It serves as a documentation of the band right before they changed styles and serves to jog the memory of those who have seen the band live before. This is not a very good place to start for those unfamiliar with the Neurosis brand of atmospheric sludge metal from beyond the confines of reality, but for the avid collector it’s a nice addition.