Neurosis - Fires Within Fires
Neurot Recordings
Progressive Sludge
5 songs (40' 53")
Release year: 2016
Neurosis, Neurot Recordings
Reviewed by Andy

Just prior to listening to Fires Within Fires, just for the hell of it, I listened to Pain of Mind, the first album Neurosis made back when they were D-beat punks with no hints of their future experimental work, often imitated but rarely taken to the same level. The effortless musicianship of their newest album is even more inspiring when comparing it to their early days -- the band has come far, and Fires Within Fires finds them still at the top of their game and taking their sound into yet another uncharted territory. I should warn casual listeners that like most Neurosis albums, this needs a few listens to fully warm up to -- but it's worth it.

Compared to 2012's Honor Found In Decay -- which got a very high rating from us --, this one is, if anything, more subtle. The guitars' heavy sludge riffs, chunky and hard as blocks of concrete and just on the edge of feedback, complement Noah Landis' synthesizers, a vibrant, chaotic buzz slithering between them. The light and dark of the sound balances out; Broken Ground, for instance, starts with soft synthesizer with just a hint of warmth hidden down in the sound, the guitars ringing over the weary, Americana-style vocals, but build up slowly to sliding layers of heaviness cascading over each other and the synth -- and that's just in the first three minutes, ending quietly in a choked-off whisper of sound. The big, blunt riffs of A Shadow Memory contrast with the abrupt transitions to clean picking, and the agonised vocal tradeoffs of Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till on Fire Is the End Lesson call to mind Pantera, not the real one but an alternate-reality version that carried the quieter moments of The Great Southern Trendkill into further, less fathomable regions.

At the end of it all, however, Neurosis is its own, a pioneer with its own sound that nonetheless still regularly experiments; at one point they put the keyboards in the upper parts of the mix, calling down from the rafters in a disturbing chirp. The undercurrent of fury under all the complex progressivism is still there, but much quieter -- it has mellowed into a rough-voiced weariness that exhibits itself in slower, quieter moments, the vocals dreamily murmuring with the clean-picked guitars. But it's easily stirred back up into an explosion again, which is how the album finishes, in a steadily droning set of overdriven guitars.

I'm sure that there are people who won't be satisfied with Fires Within Fires, especially given the classic nature of some of Neurosis's earlier albums. But for those who want to hear masters of their art foray into a direction that most will continue to find fresh and interesting, listening is recommended.


Killing Songs :
Andy quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Neurosis that we have reviewed:
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
Neurosis - Through Silver in Blood reviewed by Adam and quoted CLASSIC
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