Being a huge fan of this band for a very long time (they are probably my 2nd favorite band of all time), I am always excited when a new album comes out. However, after the lackluster Honor Found in Decay, I felt a lot of trepidation. I was fearful that they had lost their intensity. I don’t mean intensity in that the music needed to be heavy or angry, but as in emotional at all, soft or heavy. I worried that Neurosis had lost their spark. Thankfully, the aptly titled Fires Within Fires shows that the spark has once again ignited flame.
This album reminds me a lot of the Sovereign EP writ large actually. Well, slightly larger. Its just over 40 min, which is basically an EP for these guys. That is not an issue at all, however, as 40 awesome minutes is way better than 70 minutes of meh. These songs wax and wane with the best of the band’s catalog and keep you interested and engaged the entire time. Their use of space and dynamic counterpoints here is second to none and feels very natural on this album, as opposed to their last effort where it felt rather forced to me. From the opening hit, through the delicate ambiance to the final bellow, you can follow the band on a journey of mind, body, and self-discovery through their auditory hallucinations.
Right off the bat, you know that this it not some sort of throwback album. The band continues their post-A Sun That Never Sets direction and keeps it firmly in dirge territory. No walls of noise, insane samples or multi-layered tribal drums. Just humongous and glacial slabs of intense music. Honestly, I would love to hear a more aggressive and/or experimental album from these guys with their current composition and sonic skills, but I don’t think that will ever happen. Its not a huge deal, but I kinda feel like they are too comfortable with their sound now and don’t take many risks anymore. Personally, I want them to just go off the deep end with their next album.
It’s also a great sounding album. The pairing of the band with Steve Albini has been going on for over 15 years now (!!!) and its been a fruitful one. He helped the band reign in their sound a bit to where it became a more discernible palette of ideas than it was before. It feels like once Neurosis started working with him, they started thinking more about what they were doing with the songs and each member’s parts within them. This of course led to their current sound, love it or hate it. Either way, you can’t argue with the sonic results. Everything is perfectly audible and very natural sounding. The spatial separation between the instruments is also true auditory bliss.
I can’t really think of much more to say here. I know that may sound odd for what I say is one of my favorite bands, but if I wanted to say more I would be going into some sort of 20 page written history of this band dissecting everything they’ve ever done leading to this point along with reviews of all of their albums. I like this band so much that everything they do carries the weight of history with me and my opinions of their music follow suit. To try and sum it up for the casual fan: if you like what they’ve been doing musically since the turn of the millennium, you’ll probably dig this. It’s a finer tuned version of that. If you pine for older, crazier Neurosis, this will not bring you back. If you’ve never heard the band before, start with A Sun That Never Sets and either move backwards for more aggressive experimentation or forwards for more dirge heavy doom. I think this album is fantastic and very much worth a purchase for any fan of any genre of metal as the band’s impact on metal as a whole is so massive.
Stream and purchase the album digitally below:
If you are more of an analog person, check out the band’s store at their website for all sorts of vinyl: