Neurosis - _Given to the Rising_
(Neurot Recordings, 2007)
by: Jackie Smit (
Not to suggest that anyone reading this would feel any differently about the subject, but it does beg repeating in this instance: you never really listen to a Neurosis record in the traditional sense. It's not something you casually flip on while downing a six pack with your buddies. You don't use it as background music while you're playing videogames. Turn on any of the band's releases in your car, and you're bound to end up in a starring role on the evening news.No, a Neurosis record is something you need to experience; soak up in its entirety, ponder, analyse and repeat the cycle. Several times. In fact, chances are that you'll still be picking at the bones and dissecting previously unnoticed nuggets years later. Lest there be any doubt, very few names in any genre can lay claim to possessing this ability to leave such an indelible mark on the listener. Many have tried, certainly, but just when you think that someone somewhere might come close to recreating some of otherworldly genius of a record like _A Sun That Never Sets_, the California quintet unleash a beast like _Given to the Rising_.The first thing you're bound to notice about the ninth addition to the Neurosis canon is how immediate it is in its violence, coming almost unexpectedly in the wake of its predecessor's comparative serenity and introspection. The opening dirge of the title track verges on being almost overpowering -- a sledgehammer riff that clobbers you relentlessly before being juxtaposed by one of the most brooding electronic intermezzos you ever imagined this band could have had inside them. The brief sojourn doesn't lower the tension by any means; if anything, ratchets it up to combustible levels, right up to the point the song's climactic finale comes crashing down like a freshly demolished skyscraper."Fear and Sickness" weaves an even darker atmosphere, building a jarring contrast between verse and chorus and leading back into another incredible crescendo of sonic brute force. But it's "To the Wind" that really takes centre stage and underlines the mission statement of Neurosis in 2007, first throwing us briefly off the scent with an ambient colossus of keyboards, clean and lead guitars, before hurling us head-first back into the densely constructed maelstrom with reckless abandon.To be sure, this is one of the heaviest offerings that Neurosis has delivered to date. It's not one-dimensional by any means, and there's gear-shifting a-plenty across the record's ten tracks. But the undercurrent of unease and acrimony is ever-present, even during the minimalist "Origin" that plays out the album. Even so, _Given to the Rising_ feels like the most complete and fully realised effort to bear Neurosis' moniker. There's nothing to find fault with at any point during the journey; it simply keeps growing more rewarding with every consecutive airing, to the point where any more poignant discourse about the album could easily take years to realise.
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