(IamHop note: Please welcome ShanexEdge to Postrockstar! Shane is one of our go to guys for all things post-metal/doom-metal/heavy but he is also well versed in all things post-rock)
Having had a good bit of time now to listen to “Honor Found In Decay”, the newest offering from Neurosis, I’ve really had a chance to let the album as a whole soak in. Part of this is getting over the initial excitement of a new album, and hearing it for what it really is. Being a band that always pushes the boundary of post-metal/drone/doom/whatever a bit, Neurosis push themselves a bit here, though perhaps not as much as the band lead people to believe. After all, in the trailer for the album, Steve Von Till claimed “Our legacy can only be assured if we continually burn down the past and plant seeds in the ashes.” Still, it’s a move forward for the band, releasing what I feel is their most intimate album so far.
The opening track, “We All Rage In Blood”, to me is easily the weakest track on the album. From the cheesy synth to some of the most bored sounding vocals Scott Kelly has ever delivered, it doesn’t really set a good tone for the rest of the album with the way everything just sort of seems pieced together. “At The Well” follows up with a nice, dark intro, which definitely draws to mind comparisons to Swans, especially given the crooning vocals. The rest of the track treads familiar ground, though it begins to pick up pace, and by the end of the track, you’ve all but forgotten about the slow start. The standout track on the album, “My Heart For Deliverance”, is probably some of the best music the band has ever written. Everything you know and love about Neurosis is explored, and expanded upon, in this track. From the droning intro, to the melodic tones the begin to emerge about a quarter of the way through the song, to the spoken word sample (“we follow the earth, the earth follows the stars, the stars know their way, and though the body dies, the stars will reign like the waves of the sea and the breathless wind”) that leads to one of the most crushingly atmospheric moments of the album, this is a very dense, classic Neurosis track. I don’t like to throw the word “epic” around, but this track, to me, can only be described as such.
Another classic Neurosis element can be found in the tribal drumming that features heavily in “Bleeding The Pigs”, a track that also features some great layered vocal work – nearly unnoticeable due to the similarities between Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till’s vocals, but it adds a nice, almost haunting element to the song, which I think makes it that much stronger. “Casting Of The Ages” is another nod to Swans, perhaps even more so than “At The Well”, with the quiet, almost delicate intro crashing headfirst into a wall of distortion that carries out the rest of the track. The near-shoegaze levels of fuzz at the end of the preceding track are quickly tossed aside by the relentless drumming of Jason Roeder that kicks off “All Is Found…In Time”. The stomping guitar riff that features prominently in the first half of the song eventually gives way to more delicate guitar work, creating a very spacey feel before the rapid-fire drumming kicks back in. The keys in this song are very subtle, but they’re present enough to create a great atmosphere. The abrupt end leads to the album closer, “Raise The Dawn”, which is a bit of a disappointment to me, as a closer. If it were elsewhere on the album, it would be a solid, drone-heavy track, but the bring the album to an end, it just seems a little lacking, although Scott Kelly’s growl of “All the rest have fallen / Returning the sun” delivered over a near-blues riff is a nice touch, and a bit of a nod to the band’s tenacity.
All things considered, it’s a good album. Not quite as strong as I was expecting, or had hoped, but it works fairly well. Aside from the few shortcomings I’ve mentioned, I think it still stands as a solid piece of their discography. Of course, like all things Neurosis, it’s incredibly dense, and provides the listener with a lot to process. The true test of the album will be time, and peeling back all of the layers contained within.
CD available for $14 via Blue Collar Distro – http://www.bluecollardistro.com/neurotrecordings/categories.php?cPath=1030_1031_1137
Available in digital format on Itunes.