Hardcore

Neurosis - A Sun That Never Sets

ARTIST: NEUROSIS

ALBUM: A SUN THAT NEVER SETS

LABEL (YEAR): RELAPSE RECORDS (2001)

FOR FANS OF: SWANS, MELVINS, GODFLESH  

Words by Chris Gaduzo


The sonic evolution of Neurosis is possibly one of the most exciting and remarkable of its kind, and one I simply love boring people with. In essence though, it goes like this: Hardcore band slows down, gets intense, gets darker, gets more experimental, creates the most interesting heavy music of the past 30 years. It is difficult to choose a favourite Neurosis album, but A Sun That Never Sets is the one that made me realise this band was something special.

The band had already delivered some outstanding albums; Through Silver in Blood saw the band wallowing in a dark mix of sludge, punk, psychedelia and ambient music that is still unparalleled in sonic intensity. The Steve Albini-produced Times of Grace saw the band once again deliver a fantastic album that summed up what they were all about in the 90s. However, it was simply not in Neurosis style to play it safe, and A Sun That Never Sets saw the beginning of another impressive stylistic change.

Opener ‘The Tide’ demonstrates this through its slow, acoustic sections, with Steve Von Till no longer yelling his vocals like on earlier material, but crooning similarly to Tom Waits. However, Neurosis are always a heavy band, and soon the listener is greeted with a sludgy outro where melodic synths battle Scott Kelly’s desperate howls for your attention. Elsewhere, ‘From The Hill’ sees the return of the mid-tempo march Neurosis helped create, yet the band never quite explodes into waves of riffs like they used to. Instead, these heavier moments are held back and unleashed for maximum effect on tracks like ‘Watchfire’ or the breathtaking closer ‘Stones from the Sky’.

Perhaps the most important thing about the direction Neurosis chose to take with A Sun That Never Sets is that they demonstrated how volume does not always equal heavy. Their sound at this point was totally reined in – another piece of their sonic puzzle, which on this album expanded to incorporate folk (see the key change in ‘Crawl Back In’), psychedelia (‘Falling Unknown’) and even tribal music (‘From Where its Roots Run’).

Botch - We Are The Romans

ARTIST: BOTCH

ALBUMWE ARE THE ROMANS

LABEL (YEAR): HYDRA HEAD (1997)    

FOR FANS OF: THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, BRONTIDE, RUSSIAN CIRCLES

 

Words by Gummo Clare


Botch were an American group, seen as one of the central bands involved in the development of mathcore, a rhythmically complex fusion of elements of mathrock, hardcore punk and metal (amongst other influences). While We Are The Romans is undoubtedly filled with intricate polyrhythms and technically impressive playing by all members, it never descends into the proggy wankery that marked the work of many other mathcore bands.  Instead, the album sounds to my ears far more deeply rooted in hardcore, and the complexity of some of the musicianship only serves to stoke the ferocity of songs like the openers, ‘To Our Friends in the Great White North and Mondrian Was a Liar’.  Dave Verellen’s vocal performance is great throughout, offering a good balance between a punk style of delivery and the harsh vocals found in modern metal.

Tracks such as ‘Swimming the Channel vs. Driving the Channel’ offer some let-up from the rest of the album’s aggression, on which you can hear the kind of ambient post-metal leanings that the bass guitarist, Brian Cook, would go on to develop in his current (and also fantastic) band, Russian Circles. As it happens, after Botch’s breakup, all of its members have gone on to play in forward-thinking and influential bands.

We Are The Roman is a brilliant final album from a great band, and definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of hardcore, good metal, and heavy music in general.