NEUROSIS GO BIG AND GO HOME ON HONOR FOUND IN DECAY
When Neurosis declared in the teaser video for their new album, Honor Found in Decay, that it was their “most dynamic album to date,” one couldn’t help but think that’s a hilariously and impossibly boastful claim. It’s like Christina Hendricks saying, “They’re fine, but really, I’d like to go a little bigger.” It seemed more than likely that it’s just the post-completion glow, the thinking man’s “this is probably the heaviest thing we’ve ever done.” If Neurosis were able to pull it off– and if any band could… — it would be staggering. Minds would be blown.
And, well, consider my mind sufficiently blown, with specks of skull and spongy brain splattered all over the wall behind me. After Given to the Rising’s prolonged stare into the abyss and The Eye of Every Storm’s purchase of a timeshare within it, there’s a more tangible, oaken, earthy sadness that surrounds the Honor. This makes it a little easier to swallow in some ways, but as their above claim about dynamics would suggest, it manages to be even more moving. With flecks of psychedelic ornamentation and fragments of orchestration, the band bloom into an even more panoramic scope, capturing the intimate and human depth of sadness as well as the world around it, like the locust scene in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. And thus, Honor Found in Decay finds the band folkier than they’ve ever been, with a song like “My Heart for Deliverance” sounding like a plea shouted through time from the Dust Bowl. Then again, the “No Quarter” arpeggios on “All is Found…in Time” sound like they were scraped off the groove of your uncle’s original copy of Houses of the Holy. While the rough era we’re mired in seems fit to express itself through sounds of the not-too-distant future — in all its compression-heavy production, relentless faux-clever irony and botched postmodernism, and fucking dubstep — there’s something comforting and apt about Neurosis being content to capture this moment in time through soul that stretches back to dusty Victrolas and only as far forward as the darkest reaches of AOR radio. They live entirely in their own world, which oddly enough, considering that world’s reverence for the past, gives the album a simultaneously present and timeless quality.
That reverence has even a meta quality to it: though it’s not necessarily fair or apt to call this a throwback album, well, it’s a bit of a throwback album. The tribal drums of “Aeon” and “The Doorway” are back in full effect (not that they went too far to begin with) on eviscerators like “Bleed the Pigs” (which yes, as its title would suggest, is the most vicious song on the album) or the climax of “At the Well”. And Honor finds the band returning to the grandiosity of Through Silver and Blood, with every song having its own distinct niche and arc, ostensibly tearing your chest open by the end of each and leaving you to be picked up by the next song until there are no more. And despite my yammering on about folksiness, this album is pretty significantly heavy as well. For all the talk of Given to the Rising being a return to form (which I never really understood), this record re-harnesses the band’s road-weary, meth-addled darkness and heaviness; the dynamic works both ways.
However, like with Through Silver and Blood, the mass of Honor Found in Decay makes it a little hard to take in full. And that’s not necessarily a knock against it: there’s a lot of it there. There’s a lot to feel and process. It doesn’t feel bloated or overlong; in fact, cut a song from the album and it may not feel as whole (and unlike albums past, there are no intro tracks or diversions: every song is a full song). But it’s not something to throw on when you’re on your way into work and expect to be energized for the day ahead. It’ll leave you feeling rattled and skinned. It’s big and thunderous, yet enormously personal. If we have to wait another five years for an album, I’ll be disappointed, but I’ll wait for it. Statements like this record aren’t something you can shit out every two years, but require time for the band to craft and for its audience to digest. Despite all the emotional razing Neurosis tend to do, it’s a pretty healthy relationship. Honor Found in Decay is a significant payoff after patience, and frankly, anyone who’s followed them for any chunk of their career should have expected nothing less.