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Music that moves mountains... - 100%

asmox, April 13th, 2007

Ever watch a film that showcases destruction on a massive scale and follows it up with scenes of weeping agony and retrospective? Say, a nuclear detonation with a mushroom cloud that slowly reaches for the heavens and the post-apocalyptic lifestyle that ensues? Or a meteor impact which produces a shockwave that slowly creeps out across the landscape and the consequent images of wrecked countryside? Maybe even a fire that sweeps across an expansive forest and the miles of charred earth that result? Perhaps a war that takes a catastrophic toll on two nations?

Well, on this here slab of post-hardcore sludge metal, Neurosis paint evolving pictures of gradual devastation that would easily go hand in hand with such events.

Right from the introductory seconds of the album - which feature odd industrial sounds, tribal drums, and a menacing guitar progression that ripples with volume and distortion - you sort of get that feeling you'd get if you were to wake up in the morning, walk out into your front lawn, look up into the distance, and watch in horrified disbelief as the sky itself cowers under an encroaching shadow that is slowly spreading across the atmosphere. Before you can figure out what the hell is going on, your ears are shattered by a desperate roar - "THROUGH SILVER IN BLOOOOOOOD!!!" - marking the transition from a purely suggestive sense of dread to something far more immediate. Guitars swell, still subdued as they crawl along, gathering strength much like a tornado that sweeps across the countryside, gradually becoming bigger and stronger; the bass, slightly distorted, shakes the very ground you stand on; the drums continue to pound out relentless tribal rhythms; Scott Kelly's pained yells fill your head, backed by the guttural intonations of Steve Von Till. Soon, the storm reaches its peak. The earth begins to split before you, the bleak sky begins to rain fire, and the skyline in the distance slowly begins to crumble to the ground. With several bowel-shaking bass slides, the same guitar riff that was but a shadow in the corner of your mind six minutes earlier explodes into a roaring, indiscriminate wall of sludgy ruin. The drums transform from a hypnotic pulsing to a creeping, pounding onslaught reminiscent of a wrecking ball methodically crushing its victims into dust. The next thing you know, you're on the ground. Your vision is blurred, your head throbbing. Sitting yourself upright, you look off into the distance. The storm is slowly retreating, and you are finally made aware of the utter desolation around you. The tallest buildings have been laid flat across the now barren landscape, the oceans themselves have been set aflame, and ash falls from a sky that sunlight no longer seems to touch. As the drums resume their primal throbbing and the guitars send shockwaves of undulating distortion across the diminishing soundscape, you notice other people around you. They are cold, empty... mothers clutch their children as their lost eyes sweep over a homeland that has been turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland in the course of twelve minutes. As a final show of power, the music briefly reverts to the opening motif of rolling tribal rhythms punctuated by industrial noise before finally dropping out for good.

...and that was only the first song.

"Rehumanize" is a brief, slightly disturbing, yet oddly compelling track that contains twisted samples of various people talking about subject matter that is spiritual and strangely chaotic on top of a cerebral collage of mechanical sound. "Purify" is an immense moment of music that moves from a melancholy arrangement of gently ringing guitars and orchestral elements throughout the introduction, to a lengthy evolution of sheer intensity wrapped in trademark tom-heavy drumming and slithering, sludgy guitars... and on to the striking closing sequence that features rolling drum patterns and atmospheric bursts of distortion placed against uplifting and highly melodious bagpipes. Yes, bagpipes. "Aeon" starts with gentle pianos and subtle snare rolls in its first half, only to ascend into a monolithic scene of uncompromising tragedy in a second half that's as powerful and emotionally moving as it is destructive and militaristic. The remainder of the album shares a similar sense of crushing intensity and swirling dynamics.

Through Silver in Blood is immense. It is an absolutely triumphant soundtrack to the apocalypse and the subsequent rebirth of the world anew.

Listen and be swept away.