Review by Kevin Templeton
Photography by Rodney Gitzel
"Men at all times have been subject, as they believed or experienced, to forces from the stars, from the gods, or to forces that now blow through society itself, appearing as the stars once did to determine human fate... "
Yours truly was anxious to learn that San Francisco's post-hardcore tribe Neurosis were returning to Vancouver to render us senseless with yet another suspectedly unstable performance of fierce, metallic, primal energy to support their latest prophetic warning/CD, Through Silver in Blood. A little history for the uninitiated: Neurosis was spewn forth from the mid-to-late 80's Bay Area hardcore scene that included the likes of Clown Alley and Sacrilege B.C. Refusing to travel the path of least resistance, musically or philosophically, Neurosis and related side projects (most notably Tribes of Neurot) have forged their own paganistic path with six records and endless touring to their credit, all without major label distribution or genre/scene status (often recurrent in industrial or black-metal circles). Individual perceptions aside, the concepts and range that Neurosis represent are as tangible as you or I. Or as intangible, as the case may be.
Opening the show with "Through Silver in Blood," the five Neurosis members (with a sixth member handling the band's "visual media" off stage) began the proceedings amidst haunting percussion and ambient guitar effects, filling the Town Pump with a chilling, fearless atmosphere. After a few minutes, ringleaders Scott Kelly and Dave Edwardson began shouting and growling (respectively) their undiluted version of fate and transformation to the "all pervading consciousness." Both men are extremely impressive in their convictions, emotions seemingly manipulating their voices, with Kelly grinding forth his crude riffage while his alter-spirit Edwardson rumbled his bass through mud and noise. Caustic fury intact, "Eye" and "Locust Star" bound the set together, and one had to be surprised with the relative lack of digital machinery used to create such a diverse atmosphere of sounds that is as spiritual as it is militant -- or is that the whole point?!
"Even the listener who abandons himself with docility to its beneficent influence will feel agitation at the center of the soul, restoring the soul now led back to its first source, the grateful waters of emotion... "
One of the more disturbing aspects of Neurosis shows that I look forward to is the "visual media" display on the large screen behind the stage. Imagine grotesque hallucinations of subversion and decay, images flashing of barbed wire, eyes, and stars, all perfectly choreographed to mesh with the accompanying noise symphony. The visuals I'm watching on this night behind the Town Pump stage are definitely not your typical newsreel/car crash/Reservoir Dogs footage, but rather lean towards the dark, creative intent (bordering on propaganda) that only Neurosis can deliver.
Self-indulgent or not, this music inspires and forces contemplation. After awhile, however, the total sensory overload can become a bit much and an escape is needed but not easily found. With my soul teetering at around zero, I head for home, distraught and alone, the new Neurosis CD in hand. My head hits the pillow, ears ringing. Ugh. Did someone put something in my beer? Neurosis wins... again.
I thought openers Bloodlet were all right. They're certainly not the band to transform the death metal genre to the next level (which would be... what? Afterlife metal?!), but they're a much more "credible" band than, say, Cannibal Corpse and their mundane ilk. Bloodlet sound like a cross between Helmet and old Celtic Frost, with some interesting time changes to boot. Keep an eye out for 'em.
[Note: the two quotations were taken from Neurosis' 1996 mail-order catalog... ]
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