Neurosis - Through Silver in Blood
Relapse Records
Progressive Sludge Metal
9 songs (70'32")
Release year: 1996
Neurosis, Relapse Records
Reviewed by Adam
Neurosis are a band who have made a career out of constant evolution. After forming in Oakland, CA in 1985 as a primarily hardcore outfit consisting of Scott Kelly, Dave Edwardson, and Jason Roeder, they have gradually melded elements of doom, post rock, and ambience into their repertoire while adding to their ranks with Steve Von Till and Noah Landis. Throughout their twenty year run, Neurosis have released some highly influential material, perhaps none more so than 1996’s Through Silver in Blood. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that the current major players in the sludge genre, such as Mastodon and Isis, owe their existence to this band and this album. Despite their massive influence, they have gone unrecognized on this site, a fact that I’ve been meaning to fix since I began reviewing here. With their newest album set to release in 2007, I figured now is as good a time as any. We’ll start with what many, including myself, consider their finest hour.

Describing the sound of a Neurosis album is never a simple task. Not only does the correct description tend to change with each album, but each one also incorporates many different styles, all of which are intricate to the overall feel. On Through Silver in Blood, the band mixes hardcore and death metal vocals with equal parts sludge, death metal, and ambient noise. The influences of post rock are evident in the song structure, as many of tracks on this album utilize a crescendo driven approach. This tactic makes for some very heavy sounds, as the dual guitar wave of Kelly and Von Till sound incredibly dense when placed on the heels of an eerie build up laden with various noise effects. There are moments on this album where the mood is very tribal, a prime example being Roeder’s leading drum march on the epic opening title track. The title track is also the perfect illustration of the vocal tradeoff between Scott Kelly’s powerful hardcore screech and the growls of Steve Von Till.

Neurosis are definitely not bashful in the song length department, as, with the exception of two short creepy ambient interludes, all tracks clear five minutes and a few surpass ten minutes in length. For me, although each song on this album is more than worthwhile, Through Silver in Blood is built around three tracks: the previously described title track, Purify, and Aeon. Each around twelve minutes in running time, each special in their own way.

Purify begins with a strange noise somewhat resembling the sound of firework ascending into the sky. The buildup continues with soft string arrangement and a dark clean guitar passage. The guitars explode for short moments of distortion, teasing at the assault forthcoming. Finally, a bending and heavy duel riff descends and plods along at a doomy pace for a minute or so. That’s when things take a turn. In reality, the song hasn’t even really begun, as Roeder’s tribal drums lead a slight ramp up in speed around the five-minute point. This is where Kelly’s pained screams are wrapped in demonic ambient noise above a highly distorted, muted guitar foundation. This strange concoction makes the pitch shifting guitar attack of the chorus seem more immensely heavy than it already is. As with most of Neurosis’ suite-like pieces, the tail end is neither predictable nor simple. On Purify, a feedback laden guitar crash fades into bagpipes for the final minutes.

As great as Purify is, Aeon is even better. In fact, I still consider it the pinnacle of the Neurosis catalog to this day. It is an exercise in crescendo; expertly utilizing the dark build up this band performs so masterfully. From the first moment I heard the foreboding piano intro, I knew this song was going to be something special. The accompanying violin and rolling snare only furthered this notion. By the time these opening elements faded off revealing Edwardson’s soft bass line alongside more of Roeder’s tribal drums, my anticipation was reaching fever pitch. Thankfully, my notions were confirmed, as a furious guitar whirlwind surrounded me, its chaotic sound giving off the feeling that I’d just been tossed into a hornet’s nest. Kelly and Von Till trade word for word vocal barks before their guitars come crashing in what is the very definition of a “wall of sound”. I kid you not; this riff is about as subtle as an exploding grenade. For lack of any more intelligent sounding or intricate descriptions, let me just say it’s heavy as fuck. After a lighter bridge arrangement in the center, the furious pace resumes for the second half of this monstrous track. I’m realizing as I type that my words just can’t possibly do this song justice, it needs to be heard. Due to this, I’m going to do something with this review that I normally don’t, provide a link to sample Aeon at the bottom of the page. If you’ve never heard this band, this is the song to try out.

In medical terms, neurosis is referred to as a disturbing mental imbalance. I guess that’s as good a title as any to describe this band. At the time of its release, Through Silver in Blood managed to disturb the boundaries of metal quite effectively. The three cornerstone tracks remain landmarks in the band's history. However, I don’t want to dismiss the other songs on this album in any way. The mammoth riff on Locust Star, the evil sludge of Enclosure in Flame, the tortured vocals of Strength of Fates, the excellent death growls of Eye, all of these deserve mention and recognition. This album is an excellent step in the evolution of Neurosis, an evolution that is ongoing to this day.

Audio: Aeon (linked from the official Neurosis website)
Killing Songs :
Through Silver in Blood, Purify, Aeon
Adam quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Neurosis that we have reviewed:
Neurosis - Fires Within Fires reviewed by Andy and quoted 90 / 100
Neurosis - Honor Found In Decay reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Neurosis - Enemy of the Sun reviewed by Crash and quoted 93 / 100
Neurosis - Given to the Rising reviewed by Adam and quoted 94 / 100
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