There is no in-between with Neurosis — either you love them or you hate them, so approach with caution. – All Music Guide
While they started out as more traditional hardcore/metal band in the late 80s, the next decade saw California band Neurosis turning into a completely different beast – they mixed metal, noise, tribal drumming and samples in order to create their own sonic landscape. The band also have an alter ego – Tribes Of Neurot – which produces ambient/drone records.
The band was formed in the mid 80s by Scott Kelly and Dave Edwardson who were previously playing together in Violent Coercion. Heavily influenced by crust/hardcore bands from Britain, they released their debut – 1987 “Pain Of Mind” – via Alchemy Records label (it was also reissued twice – by Alternative Tentacles in 1994 and by Neurot Recordings in 2000).
All Music Guide commented that “the raw, undeveloped band that recorded the short bursts of hate and attitude contained on Pain of Mind in no way resembles the awesome trance-riff machine of later years.”, while Suburban Voice ‘zine described it as “versatile and seething full-scale attack from Berkeley powerhouse”.
Next two full-lengths that the band produced were 1990 “The Word As Law” (on Lookout!) and 1992 “Souls At Zero”. AMG described “The Word” as “the most transitional album in Neurosis’ evolution from hardcore merchants to avant-garde metal experimentalists, clearly displaying the pubescent band as it searched for its mature identity”.
“Souls At Zero” was described by AMG as an album that reveals “a band able to draw on everything from goth rock drama and medieval folk stylings to a tribal stomp and dub pace to epic howls to the universe, and then able to put it all back together again in one jaw-dropping combination after another.” They also pointed out that “If there’s a secret weapon at play, it’s the band’s ability to orchestrate and construct their songs — nothing is simply ground out, and there’s an obvious ear for silence, calm, and then release track for track.”
Further into the decade, the band produced 1994 “Enemy Of The Sun”, 1996 “Through Silver In Blood” and 1999 “Times Of Grace”. AMG described “Enemy Of The Sun” as “pitch-black goth/tribal/metal noise apocalypses shot through with found sound samples”, while “Silver” was described by them as attention span tester full of long “trance-inducing epics”.
AMG pointed out that “Times Of Grace” “offers the most seamless continuity of any album in the band’s challenging discography.” and “with time and patience may prove one of the group’s most satisfying works for long-time converts, but it will most likely seem too exhausting to the uninitiated.”
New millennium saw the band producing 2001 “A Sun That Never Sets”, 2003 collaboration with Jarboe (Swans), 2004 “The Eye Of Every Storm” and, finally, their latest (as of 2009) studio record – 2007 “Given To The Rising”.
AMG commented that there was little memorable material on “A Sun That Never Sets”, while “The Eye Of Every Storm” was described by them as an “enjoyable, atmospheric musical journey”.
“Given To The Rising” was described by AMG as “one hell of an album, better than anyone had any right to expect, and one of the high moments in a career filled with them.” Stylus Magazine gave the record an A- grade and concluded that “Given to the Rising hits no false notes. It holds up after 20 listens; it will hold up after 20 years. Ten albums into their career, Neurosis has only widened the gap between it and its pretenders.”
Outside of Neurosis, band members were also involved in numerous other projects, including Blood & Time, Harvestman, Culper Ring and A Storm Of Light.
Dave Edwardson (Tribes Of Neurot )
Jason Roeder (Tribes Of Neurot)
Josh Graham ((Fallen) Black Deer, A Storm Of Light, Battle Of Mice, Blood & Time, Red Sparowes)
Noah Landis (Blood & Time, Christ On Parade, Tribes Of Neurot)
Scott Kelly ((Blood & Time, Tribes Of Neurot)
Steve Von Till (Culper Ring, Harvestman, Tribes Of Neurot)
Pain Of Mind CD / 2XCD / LP (Alchemy, 1987 / Alternative Tentacles, 1994 / Neurot, 2000)
Aberration EP 7″ (Lookout!, 1989)
Empty 7″ (Your Choice, 1990 / Allied, 1990)
The Word As Law CD / LP (Lookout!, 1990)
Souls At Zero CD / LP (Alternative Tentacles, 1992 / Neurot, 2000)
Enemy Of The Sun CD / LP (Alternative Tentacles, 1993 / Neurot, 2000)
Neurosis / Tribes Of Neurot Split (Locust Star) EP CD (Relapse, 1996 / Iron City, 1996)
Through Silver In Blood CD / 2xLP (Iron City, 1996 / Relapse, 1996 / 2006)
Souls At Zero / Enemy Of The Sun 2xCD (Iron City, 1997)
Neurosis / Soilent Green Split (In These Black Days: A Tribute To Black Sabbath Vol. 6) 7″ (Hydra Head, 1998)
The Doorway / Under The Surface CD (Music For Nations, 1999)
Times Of Grace CD / 2XLP (Relapse, 1999 / Music For Nations, 1999 / Victor Entertainment Japan, 2000)
Sovereign EP CD / Cass / 12″ (Neurot, 2000 / Hydra Head + Neurot, 2000 / Music For Nations, 2000 / Victor Entertainment Japan, 2000 / Metal Mind, 2000)
A Sun That Never Sets 2XCD / 2xLP (Relapse, 2001 / Ritual, 2001 / Irond, 2005)
A Sun That Never Sets / A Resonant Sun DVD (Relapse, 2002)
Official Bootleg.01.Lyon.France.11.02.99 CD (Neurot, 2002)
Neurosis & Jarboe CD (Neurot, 2003)
Official Bootleg.02.Stockholm.Sweden.10.15.99 CD (Neurot, 2003)
The Eye Of Every Storm CD / 2XLP (Neurot, 2004 / Relapse, 2004)
Given To The Rising CD / 2XLP (Neurot, 2007 / Relapse (Japan), 2008)
Given To The Rising Documentary DVD (Neurot, 2007)
Enemy Live NYC ’94 CD (Neurot, Unknown Year)
Short Wave Warfare CD (Neurot, Unknown Year)
Selected Compilation Tracks:
“Common Inconsistencies” on The Thing That Ate Floyd (Lookout!, 1988 / 2002)
“Self Taught Infection” + “Dominos Fall” on Peace Through Chemistry (Alchemy, 1989)
“Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing” on Discharged: From Home Front To War Front (Allied, 1991)
“To Crawl Under One’s Skin” on The Bat Is Back – An Alternative Tentacles Records Sampler (Alternative Tentacles, 1992)
“Saturday Night Holocaust” on Virus 100 (Alternative Tentacles, 1992)