Thursday, November 4, 2010

Neurosis - Through Silver and Blood (1996)

Imagine living through a nuclear catastrophe. All that was around you now lies in ruins. Imagine moving amidst the devastation, alone, a wandering nomad roaming the bleak landscape. There is nothing but you and your slowly deteriorating sanity. You can hear the sound of impending doom. You know your death is approaching and you know it is unavoidable. Only utter, torturous, despair awaits you. This is the sound of Neurosis.

I still distinctly remember when I had first heard Through Silver in Blood. The only metal I had heard up to that point had been bands like Metallica and Slayer. I originally picked up the album because the name sounded cool and I loved the cover art, but nothing could prepare me for the hell storm I was about to witness. I became entranced by their absorbing, tortured, and melancholic sound; it was unlike anything I had ever heard before.

The tracks on the album are composed of sludgy riffs, distorted bass playing, berserk tribal drumming, eerie ambiance, and tortured shrieks all drenched in a layer of thick, fuzzy sludge. Never has such a feeling of utter hopelessness ever been portrayed in music as it has been portrayed here. Though Neurosis is not just about bombastic blasts of noisy sludge, but also about eerie ambient sections that play off the louder ones. This creates a feeling of rising tension before the jarring noise. They create a bleak atmosphere that is at the same time filled with an intense feeling of uneasiness.

This album was definitely meant to be listened to as a whole, as Neurosis creates an almost hypnotic listening experience. They are able to play a section for just the right amount of time to mesmerize you, but not bore you, something many artists fail to do. Just as you are being hypnotized by a repeating sludgy riff, the band shifts gears, throwing you into a cacophony of jarring noise and tortured shrieks or a vast ambient soundscape that is both beautiful and unsettling.

If there was any one single standout track on this album, it would have to be the opening title track. Some bands create musical universes with their complete work or with an album. Neurosis manages to do that with a single song.

There are few artists that are able to create as much emotional tension as Neurosis does and Through Silver and Blood showcases them playing at their loudest and most intense. It is, in my opinion, their finest album and one of the greatest metal albums of all time.

In short, fucking amazing.


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