Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I find it easier to talk about the work of a specific band than it is to discuss others. I mean, how many times have we all been caught up in conversation involving our favorite bands or musicians and oh so effortlessly slapped a generalized genre label onto our description of that band? And how many of those instances have resulted in the fact that it’s just too damn easy to do so. With some sounds, a descriptive term or phrase is just to obvious to avoid for most individuals. Most fans of extreme music would refer to a band like Cannibal Corpse as death metal. I would find myself extremely motivated to align Anthrax (the earlier stuff, at least) with thrash. And anyone in possession of a brain within their skull would most likely love to re-christen contributors of the inappropriately- named nu-metal explosion of the late 90’s as “total crap” for the most part. All of those may seem like common sense to most well-versed fans of the more extreme side of music.
Fortunately, there are those long-lived acts that have eternally refused to be pigeonholed. I’m talking about the bands that are so diverse in both their influences and the resulting sound in general, that one would be hard-pressed to find just one word to describe the sound coming from the speakers…the bands that continually step outside of the proverbial box without batting a lash and routinely kick everyone’s asses with a unique, unbridled form of devastation. When I’m thinking of such memorable acts, one that always tops the list is Oakland, California’s legendary merchants of avant garde destruction, Neurosis.
The Bay Area outfit originated in 1985 and unleashed a sound deeply rooted in crusty hardcore styling. The band’s first full-length, Pain Of Mind, seethed with aggressive underground attitude, was in line with the likes of Discharge and Amebix, and would soon evolve into a more complex and experimental growth which has been largely influential on countless doom bands. The 1992 release, Souls At Zero, was an early part of that transition. Layered in dense atmospherics, samples, lower tempos and a more diverse form of instrumentation, the recording surely raised a few eyebrows within the old-school Neurosis fan base, yet just as likely opened a few new doors when it came to gaining new followers. The reissue (Neurot Recordings) bears every ounce of mind-warping intensity and haunting mood the record possessed upon its original release. Songs like “To Crawl Under One’s Skin”, “Flight”, “Sterile Vision”, “Stripped” and the title track still chill the spine with their ferocity and beauty, both of which have stood the test of time. In addition to the songs present on the original version, the reissue also includes a live version of “Cleanse III” (recorded in London, 1996) and demo versions of “Souls” and “Zero”. Neurosis fans old and new will find something here to satiate their hunger. Souls At Zero has been reborn!!