Released: 2012, Neurot Recordings
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Few bands deal in doom as forcefully or convincingly as Bay Area stalwarts Neurosis. The sextet's seismic, shuddering drone is the sound of slow death, a sonic mudslide that swallows all. And yet it's so much more. The turbulent often tribal rhythmic undercurrents; the ambient, industrial and psychedelic atmospherics; and the raw, primal power and sheer majesty set a standard that most stoner/doom/sludge/shoe-gaze metal acts who have followed in their wake can only aspire to.
Honor In Decay, the band's 10th album in a 27-year career that began in the hardcore underground, is another landmark. Sprawling, dense and once again hewn rough by minimalist producer Steve Albini, Honor continues in the more organic, less experimental direction of 2007's Given To The Rising and most definitely brings the thunder – guitarists/vocalists Steve Kelly and Scott Von Till seem content now to save most of their acoustic/folk leanings for their solo work – even if it does so at an achingly deliberate pace.
“My Heart for Deliverance” is a 12-minute elephantine dirge, driven by a lumbering, looping, rather massive main riff that follows the equally expansive “At the Well.” The centerpiece “Bleeding the Pigs,” however, concludes with an almost startling burst of shrill guitar and roiling drums that come seemingly out of nowhere and provide some of Honor's most emphatic moments. And though this relative sense of urgency merely provides a bridge of sorts into the funereal “Casting of the Ages,” it re-emerges on “All Is Found … In Time” which is punctuated by belligerent fits and starts.
The more melancholy “Raise the Dawn” brings things to a somewhat surprisingly somber, quiet close. Instead of building to an anticipated – if not obligatory - crescendo, Neurosis turn a 180 and ease “Dawn,” and the album, out with keyboardist Noah Landis re-creating pan flute/Andean pipe strains. It's oddly soothing after all of the dread that came before it.
But no one could ever accuse Neurosis of being predictable. And by continuing to evolve and expand with Honor In Decay, the band have again made a statement and reset the bar for what ominous should sound like.