Released: 2007, Neurot Recordings
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
After the more subdued, melancholy tones of 2004’s THE EYE OF EVERY STORM, it is nice to hear Neurosis roaring back to heavier pastures on their latest release, GIVEN TO THE RISING. The album is absolutely monstrous from start to finish with the band’s highly influential (Isis, Pelican, Cult of Luna) atmospheric passages still intact but also a revitalized focus on hammering through bludgeoning, doom-y riffs and a tsunami-like wall of sound (Mastodon, Tool). Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till are still at the top of their vocal game, rumbling and growling behind the feedback-drenched soundscapes and ambient sounds created by Noah Landis. Once again enlisting producer Steve Albini (High On Fire, The Heavils, Nirvana, The Pixies), the thick, mossy sound is becoming a trademark for the band, one that was first heard on 1999’s TIMES OF GRACE and continued through the following three albums. Neurosis still boasts the same classic lineup of almost twenty years ago and hearing the band deliver what is easily their best album since 1996’s THROUGH SILVER IN BLOOD all these years later is a testament to how important a band like this is in 2007. GIVEN TO THE RISING is a masterpiece that will undoubtedly be at or near the top of my—and surely many others—year-end list.
From the very first note of the title track, it is clear that current “hot” bands like Mastodon would not even exist without Neurosis’ genre-crossing influence. The slow, lumbering riff is so unbelievably heavy, it is like getting squashed by a steamroller and could easily be lifted from a Candlemass or Black Sabbath album. Scott Kelly’s gravelly roars are as off-putting as Noah Landis’ mind-bending ambient passages are soothing. The band has done a superb job here of juxtaposing the loud/quiet dichotomy of their music, too, as tempo changes bludgeon one minute and caress the next. For Neurosis, guitar feedback is almost an extra instrument and never more so than on “Fear and Sickness” and “At The End of The Road” as squelches of ear-splitting noise reverberate through the songs. On the other hand, the quiet, lullaby-like serenity of “To The Wind” is broken with Steve Von Till’s thunderous riff and Kelly’s immeasurable paint-peeling rasp (the scream Kelly holds in the final third of the song for nearly forty seconds is all real with no studio trickery, too!). “Hidden Faces” hits like a megaton bomb after the first two minutes of slow-building guitar squawk and keyboard subtleties but is actually one of the most straight-forward and accessible songs on the album. “Water Is Not Enough,” on the other hand, is one of Neurosis’ infamous lengthy, more progressive tracks with a slow, haunting riff and extended instrumentals filled with psychedelic aural images and piercing feedback. Dave Edwardson and Jason Roeder provide a beefy rhythm section that holds everything together here, too. Even without the accompaniment of music in the true sense of the word, a track like “Nine” bristles with creepy sound effects and a chilling spoken word narrative.
GIVEN TO THE RISING is an album that, like most of Neurosis’ material, will have an ingrained niche audience. The band is not seeking to “breakout” or become megastars as those days are clearly past. However, with the band’s name constantly being dropped by many newer acts who cite Neurosis as a major influence, their underground status may soar with the heaps of praise being hurled at GIVEN TO THE RISING. This album is frighteningly good and the band has once again raised the bar of what to expect from a Neurosis release.
KILLER KUTS: “Given To The Rising,” “To The Wind,” “At The End of The Road,” “Hidden Faces,” “Water Is Not Enough”