Pioneers of the modern day, progressive, post-sludge sound, Neurosis have been going at it for 30 years now, and have more than proved their worth in that time; now when they put out another record it’s not just a release, it’s an event. ‘Fires Within Fires’ is the shortest album that the five piece have produced in almost a quarter of a century; with just five songs clocking in at 40 minutes, it makes this all the more important, as the room for error is marginal at best.
The first half of the album follows a tried the traditional Neurosis song template; angst and misery soaks through the guitars as a thick wall of feedback feeds a growing sense of dread. Following the tense build up, Scott Kelly’s vocals erupt as the guitars go full throttle, hammering hard on the oppressive sludge qualities the band are so well known for. ‘Broken Ground’ slows the tempo right down, with Steve Von Till taking the reins for the vocals. Not dissimilar to the songs found on his most recent solo effort ‘A Life Unto Itself’, the beginning starts as a bass driven ballad, before diving right back into signature Neurosis heaviness and Scott Kelly’s familiar barks; there is respite here and there, with brief returns to Steve’s gentler passages, however, heavy is definitely dominating. ‘Reach’ closes the record, with Kelly and Von Till sharing the vocal duties; an adventurous choice, but one that pays off with tremendous output. It builds up to a rapturous climax of maniacal riffs and then simply ends.
For those taking their first peek into Neurosis’ musical history, a 30 year career span can feel a little overwhelming. However, ‘Fires Within Fires’ proves to be the perfect sampler package of everything the band have to offer – there are hints towards the hardcore punk of their earliest records, alongside earth shattering doom and ambient post rock. The only gripe you could possibly have with ‘Fires Within Fires’ is its modest length. However, it’s nothing if not succinct; they came, they said what they had to say and they left. A worthy addition to three decades worth of musicianship.
(8/10 Angela Davey)