A Sun That Never Setsby Neurosis
The title of this release carries a current of sad irony. After well over a decade of dedicated touring and recording, Oakland, CA's acclaimed sonic trailblazers seem, indeed, with this disc, heading inexorably towards twilight. Certainly, there has been an aesthetic sea change, and a qualitative one as well; whereas once Neurosis generated an epic maelstrom of sound done better than anyone, that signature was pared down a bit on the previous effort, Times of Grace. With A Sun That Never Sets, Neurosis has taken it's newfound range, and a near Mahler-esque interest in the dialectical arrangement of quiet and loud dynamics, into even more reflective, contemplative territory. The plodding guitar and noise texture tsunami that characterized every album from Souls at Zero onward has lost its steam, and if not lost steam, it has lost its potency, and, from the sound of this disc, even the band understood that. One can only hammer for so long; soon enough, the nail will be fully driven, even into the toughest steel. That said, the course of A Sun That Never Sets is determined largely by acoustic guitar and soft, folk-like singing. The standard format of electric instruments and drums have been turned down, or churned senselessly in superfluous sections tacked onto the outro's of quieter songs. Twilight, indeed. And not because Neurosis has altered its sound; experimentation and exploration is indeed a laudable, brave task, especially in the realms of noise rock and metal, where audiences can be rather unforgiving; twilight because there is a paucity of memorable material present on this Albini production, quiet, loud, or in between.
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Neurosis, to those who know of them, need no introduction. They have always been surpassing musical boundaries as each album has progressed. With ''a sun that never sets'' they are taking their talents to the next step. Tracks such as ''the tide'', the title track, ''falling unknown'', ''crawl back in'', and the finale ''stones from the sky'' are unreal. In all my musical travels I have never heard anything so raw and unleashed. Some people have gone so far as to call this album mellow and very laid back compared to their other efforts. But with the right ears, after listening to the whole album front to back you will agree that neurosis have something no other band has. The album moves undescribably up and down. Taking its listener to new heights and extremely lows, (such as the 7 minute build- up of ''falling unknown''). During ''crawl back in'' in all its madness, the bridge sort of brings the listener into a hypnotic state, the flute and guitar playing a sad tune...just before unleashing itself with pure devastation. Last but not least is ''Stones from the Sky''. After the song builds up, the guitar sends you through a cosmic journey, just playing the same two or three chords, with unpredicted halts in the drums, gradually the sound seems to envelope itself and eventually emplodes quite sudden. Leaving the listener wanting more and more....