By Natalie Zina WalschotsWhile terms like "genre-defining" are thrown around a bit to easily in a great deal of music journalism, there can be no question that, from the very outset, Neurosis have created their place in heavy music, with the relentless, immense force of a glacier carving its way across the landscape, rearranging the face of continents in the process. Honor Found In Decay is the tenth full-length studio album from Neurosis, and the fifth handled by engineer Steve Albini. Honor Found In Decay is defined by a much quieter energy than their previous output, a type of brooding restraint that gives the album a sense of gravity and maturity. However, the strengths of Neurosis remain intact, with their impossible, pondering weight and vast, looping song structures still in place. It's simply that the gears in this massive grinding machine are better oiled, the process of winnowing the listener down to the finest grind smoother than before.
Throughout Neurosis's career, your music has been defined by a sense of tension and release. On this new record, Honor Found In Decay, it's a great deal less uneasy and dark. It is still dealing with tight coils of energy and the danger of release, but there are brighter patches than before. Guitarist/singer Stever Von Till: I think we've come up with new ways to integrate the dark and the light, the melody and the beauty with the tension of the negative or the cataclysmic feelings, or any dissonance. I don't necessarily think that the overall feeling is at all brighter, because I know where the inspiration comes from and the original intent. It is equally dark and unpleasant in origin, but we are getting better at integrating the disparate elements of our music. One thing that we've always gotten out of being able to do this music is the sense of overcoming adversity by using this music for catharsis, so it would not really be to our psychological benefit if it was all light. We wouldn't be purging enough. I think it comes from just a deeper understanding of who we are and a better and wiser approach to music.
There's stillness that comes from maturity as well that defines this album. The tension is still there, just coloured differently. Do you mind if I ask what some of the inspirations were or what some of the conceptual framework was? We're never going to bore people with our personal trials and tribulations. First, it's nobody's business and second, everybody has their own shit and their own way of dealing with the world, and the details that are so important to one individual might be uninteresting to another. I think what we do is we approach our feelings in a way that allows us to purge them, to confront them directly, and rather than dictating a story, forcing a listener into the role of a voyeur or an innocent bystander, if instead we can dance around them in a way that paints a picture of the emotions and the landscapes that represent the original feelings and expression, then at some point I can tell you we don't even know what the songs become about. They have their origins in personal experiences, but they become something bigger, much like the music. It becomes something bigger than us individually or a small group of people; it goes out to encompass our entire struggle through time as a species, as humanity to being cognizant of our place in the universe and all the emotional, spiritual and existential struggles within the whole. As you know, we usually relate using metaphors of nature, which are much more powerful than an individual's life. It's a beautiful way of speaking about it ― an intense way of speaking about it ― and I think it allows the listener a chance to get what we do out of it, which is their own intense emotional response, which would be much more important than ours alone.
I think this is something Neurosis have always done very well, in that you build records that aren't narrative-driven, but contain impressions and emotions that someone else can access, put their experience on and build their story. I think that's a big part of what makes your music so powerful: it doesn't have the restrictiveness of a narrative spine, but there is a core of emotional authenticity that's much more fluid. Does that make sense? It sure does, to me. In fact, I really liked what you said there, so you can just tack my name on that part too.
Ha! Some people have the gift of being able to do the narrative, and I don't want to imply that one is better than the other, but that's just not our gift or our place. The universal allows us the freedom of self-expression without vulnerability, and also give other people a shot at the same thing, the same experience, some sort of relief.