Dear readers who have paid proper attention to the heavier or metal neighborhoods of the musical underground: Unless you have a solid hour to spend in a fugue state comprised entirely of awe, do not stop to ponder exactly how influential and important Neurosis has been to heavy music over the past two decades. Let’s take a cursory look at some of the stops on the road to blowing that mind:
That strain of mid-1990s hardcore that figured out how to be really heavy AND really good (see His Hero is Gone for the sterling example) without all the thuggish, roid-rage collateral damage that had cursed so much of the metal and hardcore liaison for years? Neurosis had a whole lot to do with that one.
The heavy and heavy-on-mood instrumental mainstays like Mogwai, Mono, Pelican, Godspeed! You Black Emperor or any “post-rock” band that wasn’t afraid to bare some teeth? The Neurosis footprint is massive in that corner, too.
It’s best to not even get started with the whole “post-metal” thing, and probably best to not mention that term within 100 feet of a Neurosis member, come to think of it.
The regionally-correct yet sonically-misused “Southern Metal” tag, bandied about (and made the subject of a documentary) in reference to greats like Kylesa, Sourvein, EYEHATEGOD, Black Tusk, Mastodon, Crowbar and a whole lot more? There’s more Neurosis in the bloodstreams than there is whisky, odds would have it.
Since locking into something truly special in the early-to-mid-’90s, Neurosis have made the lumbering, towering riff-pummel feel fresh and exhilarating several times, with 2007’s Given to the Rising marking the last retooling of what they invented in the first place. Honor Found in Decay, the band’s 11th or so studio album, is an organic, humanizing refinement of said retooling, one that is very subtle yet undoubtedly informed by guitarist Steve Von Till and bassist Scott Kelly’s forays into the fandom and unadorned tribute exercises regarding the late Townes Van Zandt (not to mention each members’ acoustic solo albums released during the last decade). And, yes, there are the occasional sounds of harmonica and violin on Honor…, but there’s also “Bleed the Pigs.” The second half of this relatively succinct album is all exercises in epic-ness; most of these tracks follow the Neurosis formula of quietly coming out of the gate and assuming a slow-burn build, not entirely unlike early-Swans.
All in all, this isn’t Neurosis submitting a patent for anything, especially given the realm of their previous accomplishments, but it is a fine record by one of heavy music’s vital individualists, and definitely superior to the majority of imitators spawned since Y2K.