Stars reign down - on you
April 24, 2016 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Through Silver In Blood turns 20. Invisible Oranges reflects on the dense, white-hot cornerstone of Neurosis' 30 year career. A marriage of ritualistic drumming, suffocating noise, and crushing distortion, best exemplified in this profound live rendition of Locust Star.

More from IO - Times of Grace: Neurosis in Concert at 30
The first time I saw Neurosis live was in 1996, the year the band released Through Silver In Blood....Visual projections of jarring psychedelia and R Budd Dwyer committing suicide over and over played on a sheet behind the band as they pounded the crowd with sludged out riffs intermingled with solemn interludes, adding their now patented tribal drumming with samples and keyboard manipulations. I had never seen or heard anything like it, and I was hooked. That was 20 years ago. Neurosis have woven their own unique tapestry, adding experimental folk, doom, and industrial threads to the raw hardcore punk fabric they began with.
From Stereogum, a good retrospective despite the unfortunate framing of 'worst to best.'
My favorite photograph of Neurosis is the one posted on their Wikipedia entry. It’s a grainy shot of the band performing in Seattle in 2008. You can make out the band members, but only just. The blue-white eclipse projected on the wall behind them washes out their features.

It’s a great picture, despite the graininess, because it captures the way Neurosis the band subsumes its component individuals. Few bands — and especially few metal bands — have achieved their degree of ego-free cohesion. Neurosis is a singular entity; their music is an austere ritual. Lots of songwriters say that they ‘channel’ their music rather than compose it. Coming from Neurosis, it’s a believable claim.
Neurosis is a long-running Oakland institution with a career spanning noisy hardcore, experimental psychedelia, austere doom, noisy industrial, and apocalyptic folk. They are credited with inspiring the 'post-metal' movement (Isis, Cult of Luna, Mouth of the Architect, and more). Among their fans are Mastodon and even Green Day.
“We’ve played in front of 20,000, 30,000 people,” says Billie Joe, “and I still haven’t felt the same thing that I felt playing in that place. There are bad shows I’ve had there that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, and there’s the greatest shows I’ve ever played. An gone to.” Dirnt: “The best shows I’ve seen in my life. Operation Ivy.” Billie Joe: “Neurosis.” Dirnt: “Neurosis, oh my God.”
posted by Existential Dread (21 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

Someone was asking earlier this weekend on how to get into the more unusual flavors of metal, and Locust Star was my #1 answer. Out of all the Neurosis catalog, that may be my single favorite cut (and that's a hard call to make). The reverential mythic drive of the entire piece is primally and profoundly spiritual. Hot goddamn I love Neurosis.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:03 AM on April 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've had the good fortune to see them three times live. The first time was at the Great American Music Hall in 2001, where they played Sovereign and Times of Grace in their entirety. All three members of Green Day were in the crowd at that one. The second was at Dante's in Portland, where I was right behind the camera guy in front of Scott Kelly in this promo. The third was back at GAMH in 2011 or 2012, when Yob opened up. Every show has been a massive spiritual experience.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:12 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best live band.

Best band.


Definitely the source of the most weighty feeling of spiritual connection to something outside myself that I've ever felt.

Great post, too!
posted by still bill at 11:32 AM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

To anyone unfamiliar with this band and their music, the only important thing you need to know is that the big bald intense guy with the goatee who yells a lot while mistreating his guitar is a primary school teacher who also sings lovely folk songs.

(Seriously, best live band. I've never been more afraid to make eye contact with the guys on stage before, just way too much intensity man)
posted by vanar sena at 11:36 AM on April 24, 2016 [6 favorites]

Saw some incarnation of the band (Tribes of Neurot I think?) at the 40th st warehouse in Oakland once upon a time, back when that was still a thing. Mind-blowingly fucking epic. A year or so later realized Dave was in my community college "intro to music theory" course.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:00 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

My favorite.
posted by josher71 at 12:12 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

My favourite.

Great post, Dread.
posted by vanar sena at 12:19 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had taken a little bit of a musical left turn in the early 90s, but there's a bucket of SF Bay Area stuff I know I kind of missed out on. Crash Worship, Sleep, Grotus, these guys, etc. I kept The Melvins as kind of a talisman and let my friends fill me in on what was going on elsewhere in the heavy music scene at the time. Glad to see Neurosis is still around so that I can see them, which for some reason, as I've circled back and acquired my own heavy music taste again, I haven't done yet.
posted by rhizome at 1:54 PM on April 24, 2016

Jaysus that Locust Star video was intense.

I guarantee that's being played in an Army infantry barracks somewhere. That sounded like being in uniform felt.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 1:58 PM on April 24, 2016

Awesome - I found myself the other night watching this classic performance of one of the songs I loved in my old radio/Gilman days from 1990 and then this, and marveling at the 25 years between for them and for me.
posted by freebird at 3:08 PM on April 24, 2016

My favorite.
posted by josher71 at 12:12 PM on April 24 [1 favorite −] [!]

The use of samples in Lost is so artful and deep, it gives me chills every time I hear it.

Because we don't know when we will die, we like to think of life as an inexhaustible well....but everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really.

I have the Ozzfest live 96 CD floating around here somewhere, and they bookended that rendition of Locust Star with samples from Become the Ocean, making it even more intense.

We even ignited the first atomic bomb on the day commemorating the transfiguration of Christ, thus unconsciously signaling that we intended likewise to transform the world, only not after the light but after darkness - with a blast that burned several times hotter than the surface of the sun.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:14 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

(thanks for reminding me that I haven't listened to Cult of Luna's Somewhere Along the Highway in a while. been too busy with Mariner, their excellent collaboration with Julie Christmas. fixing now.)
posted by effbot at 3:39 PM on April 24, 2016

I'm gonna throw in for the often underrated Souls At Zero. Silly band to try to rank worst to best because they don't really have a bad album, certainly not from Souls onward.
posted by atoxyl at 3:41 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Though the lamented (and now unfortunately named) ISIS was the band I followed more closely.
posted by atoxyl at 3:43 PM on April 24, 2016

If you miss ISIS, check out SUMAC (Aaron Turner from ISIS, Nick Yacyshyn from Baptists)
posted by gwint at 4:10 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, if you liked Isis, Aaron Turner isn't hard to find. There's also Palms, with the other three Isis guys and the singer from the Deftones.
posted by rhizome at 10:33 PM on April 24, 2016

they don't really have a bad album, certainly not from Souls onward.

There's a snarlingly beautiful beast of the apocalypse over here named The Word As Law that would like a word with your lawyer.
posted by freebird at 11:51 AM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is an awesome post. I won a copy of the limited Locust Star EP from the initial web presence they had (I believe it was the Neurot Records site right after the release of Through Silver In Blood) and I saw them on the first tour for TSIB in 1996. Strangely unlike all of my friends who are Neurosis fans, I didn't like anything after this record. Syncing up the Neurosis/Tribes of Neurot Grace records that followed was kind of interesting, but I always found Times of Grace to be kind of...thin by itself, I suppose, after the layers and layers of Enemy Of The Sun and TSIB. Nothing later ever really moved me, though I should probably give it another shot.
posted by ndfine at 2:34 PM on April 25, 2016

That's interesting, because Times of Grace was the first introduction I had to Neurosis, and it has always been the heaviest and most profound to me. Enemy and Through Silver are tremendous, but still don't quite approach the depth of Times of Grace in my mind. Perhaps the first exposure had the most impact.

I find that the record I listen to most nowadays is The Eye of Every Storm. I love the sort of peacefulness of that record, and the guitar harmonies of A Season in the Sky.

Speaking of The Word As Law, Neurosis taught me how to appreciate Joy Division.
posted by Existential Dread at 3:30 PM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

For me it was the reverse. I began to appreciate Neurosis a lot more after a spell of Joy Division fandom.
posted by all the versus at 11:02 PM on April 25, 2016

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