Neurosis - Fires Within Fires - (9/10)
Published on October 4, 2016
The teachers continue to show others how it’s done.
Being a band for 30 years is one hell of an accomplishment any way you look at it. If you’re able to consistently churn out good music, that’s even better. Neurosis is one such band. From their earlier days as a more hardcore punk outfit to the godfathers of post-metal, the band has been an ever-evolving force to reckoned with. With no shortage of material in their back catalogue, Neurosis is celebrating their 30th year of existence with Fires Within Fires, their 11th full-length and aspects from their history to make yet another great listen.
These five men waste no time on this new release, with just over 40 minutes of music, making sure to kick into gear. One thing that is very noticeable, is that due to the shorter run time than some of the last few releases, the songs come through a bit more impactful a majority the time. There is no loss of building the songs up, and there is still plenty of instrumental passages to move the album ahead as plenty of past albums, but there is almost a different feeling of importance or intensity on Fires. The vocal interplay with Steve and Scott is as powerful as ever, and the screams take over for most of the album in the vocal department, giving the album a nice bit of potency to go over the dark and heavy guitar work.
The guitars are as strong as they ever have been, using plenty of heavy riffs and adding in bits of melody here and there, but the tone just feels darker and more sinister at times than the last couple of Neurosis releases, helping the band achieve a feeling they have not quite had for the last few years. The bass adds in a nice heavy low end which just helps makes the album feel a lot more crushing and at times even suffocating. The use of the keys is also very well done, feeling a little more subtle than some of the older material, focusing the album’s approach on more of the other members, but that is not to say there is a lack of keys. They just feel more tastefully added in to help accentuate the tracks. The drumming is also quite impressive as well, with a lot of hard hitting, but plenty of slower moments to create a great groove that Neurosis is known for.
With each track, most all aspects of Neurosis are alive and well. There aren’t really any older hardcore breaks or anything, but some of the riffing and just the overall tone of the album feels closer at times to what the band had done with Sovereign and A Sun That Never Sets. The tracks flow from one another with such ease that it feels as if these five tracks are really making up one longer epic, and become part of a singular story than separate songs. Given that most of the tracks are heavier and hit quite hard, the addition of the album’s “ballad” track in “Broken Ground” is great to hear. Being the second longest track on the release, it is our first real glimpse on the album of Von Til utilizing his soft and truly melancholy singing voice. There is something so unique about his voice and instantly satisfying when hearing it, that coupled with the great riff work allow this to be the biggest standout track on the album, which is saying something the everything else is so damn strong already.
Neurosis has never been a band that felt like they were resting on any laurels. They certainly “found” themselves some years back and had continued to perfect their sound and approach, but every time they release a new album, there is something new or different than what we had gotten before. If this had been a more “direct” follow up to Honor Found In Decay, there would be no problem with that. However, these guys decided to go back a little more to their roots, and include quite a bit of older influences and sounds to push this new album even further. While there are some that could and would argue that the foundation Neurosis laid down was taken and perfected by other bands, there is something undeniable about Neurosis. Where as some bands that have used this template have fallen victim to having hit or miss material, or just simply sounding too similar to one another, there is never denying a Neurosis album. The sound, the dynamics and the just overall quality is inherently Neurosis, and all those who have mimicked this style for years have been shown once again why these guys are the masters. Be sure to pick this up from Neurot Recordings A.S.A.P.