Published Feb 01, 2000The slow-motion apocalypse dubbed Neurosis has fashioned itself one of the most vital and imposing legacies in the history of aggressive music. A legacy that has never failed to dismay, impress, confound and surpass any and all expectations placed upon it. Over the course of their 16-year sonic and spiritual evolution, their ever-evolving sound of hardcore punk turned metallic funeral dirge, orchestral instrumentation, opaque drone, electronic spasm and end-time fury has placed greater demands and offered increased rewards to all who've come in contact with it. Albums such as Enemy of the Sun, with its unmatched ferocity and density, Through Silver In Blood, their most abrasive and hostile movement, and Times of Grace, a seamless blending of tranquillity and intensity, have set the standard of experimentation and abrasion to such an extent that it may never be surpassed.
But it is Neurosis's latest full-length, A Sun That Never Sets (their seventh, and third for Relapse), that establishes itself as one of their most challenging and extreme release. A Sun That Never Sets extremity is not a consequence of unbridled rage or senseless metallic noise, however, but the tranquil, serene, experimental and somnambulant facets now pushed to previously inconceivable levels of orchestration and experimentation while relegating the aggression and buffeting harshness so dominant in previous releases to a supporting role. In other words, the reigning kings of metallic noise have dropped a Godspeed You Black Emperor! record.
"We've never pandered to preconceived notions or what others will think," comments singer/guitarist Steve Von Till, "but as far as being perceived as a significant part of underground music, I think this is an important album. If people get our music then they're really going to get where we are coming from [with A Sun ], if they don't, they never really got it. Anyone who has been tracing the evolution of our music will know that we've always tried to expand in new and exciting directions, this time it was finding more dynamics and more melody."
One of the biggest melodic and dynamic chances taken with A Sun is the use of clean vocals to enhance the emotive ebb and flow of the music. "There's very little of the senseless screaming, only if it was absolutely called for emotionally," comments Steve," because now we are a lot braver with our vocal ability; we were tired of being painted into a box." Although many will undoubtedly be shocked by Neurosis' sonic downshift, Steve surmises that it is simply the next evolutionary stage. "Everything has been building on what we have done in the past. It's step by step; you can follow the experimentation. As far as the heaviness of the band," addresses Steve, "we already know what we can do. We know we can be a gigantic steamroller, and we really saved that for when we needed it, rather than have it be a main feature."