Oakland metal pioneers, Neurosis continue to re-master their early releases with ‘Souls at Zero’, their third studio album originally released in 1992. As you might expect from Neurosis this is sludgy, doom based metal indulgence and as an album, hallmarked a change in sound for the group, abandoning the thrash sound of early recordings to follow a slower, more poised orchestration.
The proof is evident from the offset with ‘To Crawl Under One’s Skin’ which, as the title suggests, impacts deep into the listener via bass heavy riffs, screeched vocals and a hypnotic opening of garbled news reports.
‘Souls at Zero’, the eponymous track, sets off with a gnarly & nasty guitar riff harkening back to their thrash routes to some degree but for its slower pace and sudden eruption into full sludge doom orchestration.. And while ‘Sterile Version’ gets props for simply having excerpts from HG Wells War of the Worlds, the track is a powerful & thunderous track and stands out in its sound and direction as an obvious go to point for contemporary bands and their ever desperate attempts at emulation.
‘Takeahnase’, similar in scope to the rest of the album, stands out as a fine example of what was to come for the band in later releases; melodic, brooding and qusai-epic in length, ‘Takeahnase’ might be radio edit material for today’s standards (just over seven minutes compared to say KTL’s 30 minute tracks) but back in 1992 with a fan base used to faster & snapper tracks, this composition must of acted as the final declaration that the old Neurosis had evolved into something much more structured, composed and worthwhile.
As a reissue the sound is crystal clear and allows you to embrace ever decibel for all its merit, highlighting the band’s credentials with aplomb. Souls at Zero, in retrospect, not only showed a marked shift in the bands style but also the blossoming of a group that with each new recording became louder, stronger and better, earning their accolade as a force to be reckoned with within the post metal scene.
A soon to be sought after reissue for those who missed out on the original in 2000 and the limited edition LP version that came earlier this year; Neurosis’ Sovereign EP is an exceptionally crafted release that has lost none of its power despite being over a decade old.
“Payer” works as a great opening track, with layers of vocals and drums increasing methodically with the teasing notion that a guitar crescendo is on the horizon, however the group, ever unpredictable, decide against this generic motif.
“Flood” follows in similar vein, adding menace and power behind each note, a feeling that slides effortlessly into the eponymous track of the release with disciplined sludge guitars and drums that explode into powerful noisy eruption with expert synchronicity.
Fans will be pleased to see with this re-release not only new cover artwork from Isis’ Aaron Turner but also a brand new track, ‘Misgiven’, which melds well with the older tracks on the release while still providing an invigorating six minutes of contemporary Neurosis noise proving once again why and how they continue to be heralded as masters of the craft.