Honor Found in Decay, the eleventh full-length studio record from post-metal pioneers Neurosis, is yet another run of the mill exercise in consistent excellence. Whilst not straying from the sound and aesthetic crystallised on previous albums such as this record’s gnarled predecessor Given to the Rising, Neurosis have produced another visceral and emotive anchor of an album.
Released at a time when the leaves are dead or dying and falling to the ground and the sky is low and shot through with grey before dusk Honor Found in Decay is a prescient release – trailing the dark somberness that approaches us in British winter.
The hulking, brooding riffs for which they are renowned are present on this new collection but they are often used to clear space for quiet laments of Floydian melancholy and evocations of the physical world (the heavy parts obviously: mountains, planets and the sun what else would you expect?). This is nowhere better demonstrated than on My Heart For Deliverance; a song that alights on human insignificance and cosmic grandeur. Bleeding The Pigs’ lyrics are given prominence and are similarly evocative, “Scrape the black tar from your past life. Let its weight burn away. Stand within the guiding power. Its current draws you clean.”
Elsewhere Neurosis grapple with abrasive sonics; Casting Of The Ages uses the classic quiet/loud/very loud/quiet structure as Von Till and Kelly share the microphone for a song of punishing weight. Eschewing that structure the ugly All Is Found…In Time crackles with energy propelled by a scuttling drum pattern and yawning guitar over which vocals stretch into the distance collapsing into a ringing post-rock middle section before retrieving the anger that put the song in motion. The closing statement is one of electric dissonance with the crushing Raise The Dawn which fades out to the strains of weeping violin.
Neurosis’ immersive groove is a communal one shared between the six members. Sometimes they are joined by the bobbing heads of a crowd and sometimes the connection is just between the listener and a disc. It’s hard to recreate the physicality of the band’s all too infrequent live shows on record; Steve Albini certainly ratchets up the guitar sounds but the drums don’t have the same punch.
On Honor Found in Decay the band add some touches from their other musical interests: spectral folk from Von Till’s and Kelly’s acoustic albums and the psychedelic whirl of supergroup Shrinebuilder especially in the keyboards of Noah Landis to the trademark doom enveloped guitar, Jason Roeder’s tribal drumming and the growl of Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till. This atmosphere, can after a time, feel portentous, bordering on the ridiculously gloomy and it should be known there are no moments of levity here; it’s all cloaked in weighty struggle.
The hype surrounding the record may be unfair and certainly uncultivated by the band themselves but it makes for expectations that the evolution from hardcore ruffians to post-metal philosophers will continue but the evidence is that that process has slowed somewhat after recent landmark albums with Neurosis comfortable with their sonic identity with only minor nuances required to keep moving forward.
Standing like an ancient tree with haphazard branches, mottled with moss and changing colour and scale through the seasons Neurosis may outwardly change but they ultimately stay the same producing raw, thoughtful heavy music on each release. It may seem trite to remark on Neurosis’ longevity but after almost thirty years there aren’t many acts that can still deliver so much and for that we should be thankful.
Review first published on RoomThirteen.