Music

Neurosis: Given to the Rising

The extreme metal innovators prove once again why they are one of the all-time greats.


Neurosis

Given to the Rising

Label: Neurot
US Release Date: 2007-06-05
UK Release Date: 2007-05-07
Amazon
iTunes

Arguably the most influential metal band of the last dozen years (with Eyehategod not far behind), and now in its 22nd year of existence, Oakland, California sextet Neurosis can be viewed in the same light as such fellow metal fragmenters At the Gates, Carcass, Bathory, Napalm Death, and Godflesh, in that their entirely unique sound has spawned a new metal subgenre, spawning a spate of younger bands intent on following their lead. Having such a profound influence on a generation of musicians is the highest compliment, but it comes with a price, as popularity breeds ubiquitousness, to the point where we grow weary of the trends before long. Such is the case with At the Gates' melodic death metal sound, which had been mimicked and bastardized by dozens upon dozens of lesser talents, and this Neurosis-inspired sound, call it "post-metal", "metalgaze", or "NeurIsis", has been in danger of oversaturation as of late, with more and more bands taking the slow, crushingly heavy route, punctuated with tribal drumming and anguished screams.

While certain bands have taken the torch and ran mightily with it, such as Minsk, Intronaut, Cult of Luna, and Year of No Light, like any overexposed musical trend, before long we start to think enough is enough. However, as Isis proved on last year's majestic In the Absence of Truth, nobody does it as well as the original masters, and Neurosis in turn has one-upped their East Coast counterparts with their ninth album, an uncompromising affirmation that they are, without question, the mightiest band if its kind, and show no signs of losing their touch whatsoever.

Three years ago, some people wondered openly if Neurosis was in fact diminishing in power, as The Eye of Every Storm took a much more lucid, sober, controlled approach as opposed to such intense, primal masterpieces as Through Silver in Blood and Times of Grace. While sounding often as eerily calm as its title would indicate, it was nevertheless an exceptional offering from the veteran band, but if one thing's certain about the new disc Given to the Rising, it's that Storm detractors and supporters can all agree that it delivers, plain and simple, and has Neurosis sounding more ferocious, focused, and yes, even catchier than they have in a good eight years.

Continuing what has been a remarkable eight year artistic collaboration, the band has teamed up yet again with Steve Albini, whose recording style suits Neurosis perfectly, those warm analog tape tones enveloping listeners as the massive drums and roaring vocals throttle away. For Albini's prowess, though, what hits us from the start of the new album is just how strong the actual songwriting is. In fact, Given to the Rising wastes absolutely no time in grabbing our attention; there's no slow fade-in here, as the title track goes for the throat from bar one, launching into a Sabbatherian guitar riff and percussion groove. When it comes to epic song dynamics, this band is without peer, manipulating us endlessly with twists and turns, but while the loud-soft-loud-soft formula is expected, when the bottom drops out in a Neurosis song, only to return with even more force, the visceral thrill is undeniable, and "Given to the Rising" is a perfect example.

"Fear and Sickness" lurches along like a limping behemoth, the disturbing, sustained guitar notes by Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly underscored by otherworldly thrums and drones of noise courtesy Noah Landis, while the eight minute "At the End of the Road" is another summation of what these guys are all about, the emphasis this time on the powerful drumming of Jason Roeder, Landis's ambient touches, and the eventual collision of massive guitars, which come crashing in nearly five minutes into the song. "Hidden Faces", which kicks off the second half of the album, is the most immediate song, Roeder's continual stick count-ins adding a nervousness to the otherwise stately arrangement, but it's on two longer tracks in particular that Neurosis boldly sticks to its time-honored template and succeeds mightily, first on the efficient, comfortably familiar "Distill (Watching the Swarm)", and to even more spectacular effect on "Origin", which takes nine whole minutes of bleak beauty before the climactic squall of density crushes us one last time, leaving us catching our breath when the song, and the album, comes to an immediate, jarring halt.

For all of Given to the Rising's awe-inspiring power, though, we are reminded from time to time of the band's growing skill at more melodic numbers, the highlight here being the shimmering "To the Wind", which hints at first toward the Slowdive-inspired majesty of Jesu, but eventually starts into a jarringly upbeat groove. While it may be the most conventional song on the album, it never strays from that core Neurosis sound, be it Von Till's authoritative baritone, or the towering riffs that interrupt the tender beauty near the end, offering a tantalizing glimpse at the darkness that lurks beneath. It's one of many examples of how Neurosis returned to the form of the late 1990s, back when underground metal was turned upside down by their spacious yet pulverizing music. The adoring young bands can try to imitate these guys all they want, but as this fantastic, near-flawless album attests, nothing beats the real thing.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Music

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings Team for Wonderfully Sparse "Where Or When" (premiere)

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings' "Where Or When" is a wonderfully understated performance that walks the line between pop and jazz.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Music

Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.

Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Film

'Thor: Ragnorak' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.