Hundreds of disciples have tried to wander into the same plats of dark grandeur through metes and bounds of metallic survey. All territory NEUROSIS painstakingly blazed as far back as 1992's "Souls at Zero", considered the band's morphing point from a hardcore act into excavators of sonic expressionism. While many other groups comprising this "post metal" league have taken a few turns off of NEUROSIS' dirge-laden path to tap into their own abstract offshoots (ISIS having been the best of the lot), it goes without saying no one has been able to wholly replicate what the founding fathers have laid out.
On their tenth album, "Honor Found in Decay", NEUROSIS goes one step further than their daring predecessor "Given to the Rising" from 2007. Dare we say, this time NEUROSIS has reached the plateau beyond where the sun never sets in their dank microcosm. Oddly, the vantage conveyed through the violent and bleak "Honor Found in Decay" offers a glimpse of shimmering hope only a few steps afar.
You can hear it the extensive, writhing journey of "My Heart For Deliverance". Despite the track's doom-heavy clubbing and agonized degeneration through the scorching guitar lines in the finale, somewhere in the middle ground of this despair isn't so much a full grasp for the intrusive light purveying the song; it's merely an acknowledgement of its being.
Said effervescence makes itself known instantaneously on the shimmering glades opening "We All Rage in Gold" and already the listener knows this isn't going to be NEUROSIS' standard sensory rape, albeit you can still expect much gloom and mind-oppressing sludge. It's just all realized with a bit more articulation and a lot more focus. This time, NEUROSIS and producer Steve Albini work the recording of this album as if under a sacred pact.
"Bleeding the Pigs" wallows and seethes before a cautious sequence of tribal beats, coldwave and near-whispery guitar lines before erupting into a massive outpouring of lament. While "Casting of the Ages" comes off as a sorrowful tie-in reverie to "Bleeding the Pigs", despite the laborious din that encapsulates the song, there's no denying NEUROSIS finds it within their self-created miasma on this track to breathe hope (if not a simple welcoming beacon) in the final stanza. If you're used to NEUROSIS already, the severe clout of "Casting of the Ages" is therapeutic clamor to your ears, yet the high-end tones and subliminal organs in the outro is damned near orgasmic. The brilliant intercut of guitar aquatics and ambient synths in the midst of the sprawling "All Is Found In Time" emphasizes an oblique peace amidst the beat-crazed, distortion-manic puncturing.
In many ways, "Honor Found in Decay" is a doom album with a conscience. KILLING JOKE may be the band to stand ready at the apocalypse, but NEUROSIS will likely precede them with a caustic yet strangely buoyant fair warning. Take their caveat to heart or simply get lost in their dense pastures of auditory crush, whatever pleases your id. Bagpipes, chamber strings, Moogs and Japanese Koto are a few of the audile aids NEUROSIS uses to transfer their perverse enlightenment and you're either in agreement or simply in awe by the rich layering of this album. "Honor Found in Decay" is a hammering guilt trip from start-to-finish, but it will stand as one of the definitive statements in NEUROSIS' esteemed career as brackish artisans who have gone where very few of their acolytes dare tread.
- Ray Van Horn, Jr.