There are few bands in the history of the genre that have had quite the affect on the metal world at large that Oakland’s Neurosis has had. How many other bands have spawned so many imitators? How many bands have warranted virtually an entire issue of Decibel Magazine devoted to their most influential output? The proof is in the pudding they say, and in this case that pudding is a cauldron of charred remains left in the wake of this continual sonic apocalypse.
Neurosis have been outright defying conventional descriptors for their music for roughly thirty years now. It is coded into their collective DNA to create music that comes from the darkest wells of their souls; a place where superficial nomenclature withers and dies like a weed in the brutality of an unrelenting sun. Neurosis do not create music for you. They do not create it for me, or for anyone but themselves. On paper it seems counter-intuitive, but the end result is always awe-inspiring, always something so close to touching the crevices of the human psyche that have been lost in the obliteration of primal man. Our selfish desires to be continually pleased without any effort is washed away and having to work for this dark nirvana, having to truly listen and digest these sounds in ways that we do not normally is welcomed.
Neurosis have blessed us with yet another sermon on the musical mount with their eleventh full-length album, Fires With Fires. In some sort of admittedly superficial checklist, all of the Neurosis boxes are checked. The unforgettable riffs, the caged animal like vocals, the rhythm section that could knock down brick walls on their own, the synthetic pieces that so deftly intertwine it all together. But how Neurosis have put it all together from album to album has become an art form unto itself, and this album is yet another masterwork, another wholly memorable journey through the torturous beauty and agonizing humanity that this band has had us all gleefully wallowing in for so, so long. Tracks like “A Shadow Memory” and “Fire is the End Lesson” are veritable clinics on how to write music that pierces the outer membranes of your very being, to reach through the veil between artist and listener, take them by the hand, and lead them down that dark hallway to their wildest dreams and their deepest fears.
Albert Einstein once said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Life is an illusion in many ways. We create our on constructs through our own experiences and therefore no two lives, no two illusions are the same. Experiencing Neurosis is to forever alter this illusion we undertake, for listening to Neurosis, even once, can be a life-altering moment in time. Fires With Fires deftly adds to their canon of monumental releases. It is yet again an album that dwarfs all others around it and renders all those in its path obedient to the moment. We become willing slaves to this visionary collective only for them to free us from the bondage of our daily selves, even for a few fleeting, doom-laden moments. Few acts will ever be able to lay claim to a legacy that compares with the one that Neurosis has built for themselves, and with this album they continue to separate themselves from the field of contenders and pretenders alike.
Fires Within Fires is out now via Neurot Recordings. You can experience and purchase the album through the Neurot Bandcamp page.