Self-deprecation is worth its weight in smoldering phoenix-ashes and baby unicorn tears.
Published on September 28, 2007 By SanChonino In Entertainment

Given to the Rising

By: Neurosis

Year: 2007

Neurosis will claim your souls.

Simple as that. They require your complete adulation. They demand that you worship them as gods of metal. I don't even think that they necessarily want your stinky souls, but they've earned them. They have worked far too hard to climb to the top of the fringe metal heap, as the single most blisteringly original band in the entire US. They've consistently put out albums that take you to the edge of sanity, while constantly experimenting with new noises, new tones, and new structures. They've gone from a pretty-okay punk band with their first two efforts to THE pioneers of sludge metal from then on.

Yet even their sludge sound has evolved over time. From Souls at Zero (1990), their first breakthrough release, they became harder, more intense, getting to a point that's almost too hard with Through Silver in Blood (1996). Then they suddenly found melody to be an asset to their sound, minimalizing things down from Times of Grace (1999) up until The Eye of Every Storm (2004), their most pared-down album to date.

And then, in the beginnings of the year, Given to the Rising came along. (And, to be honest, this album was my first exposure to the madness that is Neurosis, having previously been a fan of knock-off bands Isis and Cult of Luna and the like. Granted, Isis has developed their own sound, and they now have dozens of clones, but their early stuff sounds way too much like Neurosis.) This album is a reconfiguration of everything Neurosis has done with their sound – combining the sickeningly hard force of TSiB and the melodic harshness of EoES.

From the first moments of this album, you realize that what you're hearing is something that's never been done before – a disc filled with such worship-inducing heaviness that you won't know what to do with yourself by the end of the disc. The twin guitars sing in tight unison, terrifying in their strength and shocking in their guttural cries. The lows of the bass and the tribally-inspired drums fill out the sound wonderfully, bringing you closer and closer to the edge of yourself. And then the twin vocals of twin guitarists begin to fill the speakers, eerie howls of men echoing forth in the crevasses of your inner spaces.

And for the next seventy minutes, your terror solidifies, and you understand what the future of the world is.

As BlueDev so eloquently put it in our mid-yearly review, this CD is the soundtrack of the apocalypse. This is the end of the world in a small, plastic, shrink-wrapped package. It is the heaviest album I've ever heard. I may have heard things that are harder, or more intense in instants (the opening moments of Gojira's From Mars to Sirius (2006) leaps readily to mind), this is just heavy. It's ponderous, it's angry, and it's completely, utterly worthwhile.

Other bands only wish they could put out albums like this. It's completely earned my difficult-to-gain adulation.

Tracks to catch: It's hard to narrow this down to a couple of tracks, because the whole thing needs to be digested as one vicious whole. But the title track, “Given to the Rising”, is an amazing album-opener, that completely shakes your brain loose in its cavity. “Hidden Faces” is just mean sounding – proof positive you don't want to mess with these guys. “Water is not Enough” is a prime example of what sludge metal can be – slow, heavy, low, and ponderous. And the album closer, “Origin”, seethes with hurt for nine minutes until exploding with the words “I SHATTER” being screamed. Just priceless.

Rating: 10 out of 10. Easily my second album of the year, after Rush's Snakes and Arrows. Some days it's number one. That's how good it is. These guys aren't on the cutting edge of metal – they are the edge, bleeding you slowly throughout the whole album. This is avant garde, people. And Neurosis deserves your souls.

on Sep 28, 2007
You wish you were as cool as these guys.
on Sep 29, 2007
You're right. I do wish I was as cool as Neurosis.

I agree, this is a masterpiece. It just blows away so much other metal I have heard. These guys are truly one of music's best bands.