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Digital Subscriptions > Terrorizer Magazine > Terrorizer 274 > SELECTED AND DISSECTED

SELECTED AND DISSECTED

ALBUM OF THE MONTH FEEDING THE FLAMES

NEUROSIS

‘Fires Within Fires’

NEUROT

The twin tidal forces of change and constancy weigh on every band. To favour one over another risks ire, either for seeming to stagnate, or abandoning key elements of an original ‘sound’. To be a good band is to balance these forces; to be a great band is to dominate them.

Oakland’s Neurosis are undeniably great. A career spanning over thirty years has seen the onetime hardcore punks transition into post-metal progenitors, embracing elements, decorator crab-like, from genres as eclectic as folk, noise and ambient. Four years on from 2012’s ‘Honor Found In Decay’, the quintet’s eleventh studio album ‘Fires Within Fires’ sees a band both fully aware of their history and keenly aware of their future.

Opener ‘Bending Light’ crashes in immediately, swollen with bass and creeping distant noise, punctuated by a massive riff, dropping out to droning hard panned guitar and phasing bass, trippy and somewhat listless, Jason Roeder’s steady drumbeat acting as a guiding handhold. Vocals are conspicuously absent for a considerable stretch, keeping you waiting for them. Through a section of disorienting, panning chords that might just be the gentlest Neurosis have been, a wall of riff rises up, a predatory groove bolstered by Scott Kelly’s scalded groan. Roeder metes out some spasmodic fills as the track peters out into skittering

‘A Shadow Memory’ begins meditative and restrained, dragged forward by a warm bass undertow that becomes a growl, paired with jagged guitars that hearken back to the gristly rawness of the ‘Souls At Zero’-era, as if the band were paring their songwriting down to baser elements, searching for their own root and core.

While their last few records have emphasised the world-striding, epic scope to the bands’ sound, ‘Fires Within Fires’ seems stripped back. ‘Fire Is The End Lesson’ reflects this, with more rough and direct riffs, carving rampantly through dark harmonies, with looping vamps and repetitive spoken word incantations. There’s more ‘space’ between instruments, but they all still convene when required. ‘Broken Ground’s bright noisescape intro sounds eerily akin to Jesu, before a wearied, contemplative guitar line and Steve Von Till’s resonant vocals enter, seemingly informed by his folk side projects. The track builds tension which breaks onto a massive bass groove before tying up with heavily FX laden vocals and pulsing noise.

‘Reach’ unsettles with backmasked noise, creeping into a broken-legged crawl. Vocal layering is punctuated by a hypnotic tom-based drum loop, before the track surprises with an almost indie section. Soft, cracking vocals melding with soft guitar rhythms and a dreamy, fuzzy overlay. Business as usual is resumed with a lumbering Neurosisian riff that drops deeper and deeper, before the album climaxes with a final groan of the tracks’ title.

Perhaps not as rage-fuelled and broodingly dark as previous offerings, ‘Fires Within Fires’ sees Neurosis evoking both the primitive elements of their early years and the polished grace of their current form. A worthy addition to their legacy, their fire burns on.

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT

‘Transcendence’

INSIDEOUT

Cinematic, multitracked Lydian heavy metal has been Devin Townsend’s approach for a couple of albums now. ‘Transcendence’ is a follow up to the striking ‘Epicloud’ and whilst Dev may have experimented wildly with the country influenced Casualties Of Cool outfit, it’s business as usual here for the DTP.

Confessing to being almost burnt out with the Project, Devin elected to collaborate with his bandmates as opposed to assuming the role of sole musical director, but there are moments that feel somewhat rehashed, not least the updated version of ‘Truth’ which serves as an opener. The jagged prog metal of ‘Failure’ is far more intriguing, with its choral embellishments and soaring chorus, whilst the heavenly presence of Anneke Van Giersbergen adds depth and contrast to the album, most notably on the title track.

Moments of blissful elegance exist but the celebratory feel of the last couple of releases has been replaced by a pensive apprehension. Positivity and clarity is still the focus but ‘Transcendence’ feels less bombastic and self-assured, despite some stand out moments of great songwriting and killer musicianship.

‘Transcendence’ is not about a taking a stylistic 180 like Casualties Of Cool, but even working within a narrow framework (for Devin anyway) produces fairly impressive results. 25 albums into his storied career, Devin proves he can be both the puppet wielding maniac and the heartfelt songwriter without detracting from any component of his musical being.

‘Transcendence’ is a decent addition to Devin’s impressive catalogue. despite not being his most maverick work.

SYMPHONY OF DESTRUCTION

DEVIN ON HIS UPCOMING PROJECT ‘THE MOTH’...

“I am making a symphony called ‘The Moth’. I see the show at a massive arena with a choir and an orchestra and unbelievable production values. It’s not satirical in the way ‘Ziltoid’ was and is unlike my previous releases. I want to make it into a movie, use virtual reality and surround sound. It will be a contrast of utter beauty and horror, the traumatic and the sublime. The ending will be anticlimactic but that’s my intension. I want it to be so big it’s absurd, like a middle figure to the musical climate we are in. It’s got a real renaissance ‘Divine Comedy’ feel.”

THE ATHFTEERNOON GENTLEMEN

‘Still Pissed’

GIVE PRAISE

A compilation surely named in anticipation of linguistically naive American zine writers lauding grind-meets-Gentlemen for sounding just as angry as their title implies. Their humour, in fact, is as British (Yorkshire, specifically) as it is idiosyncratic: a moniker saluting the hardcore park drinkers that pepper every town, song titles including ‘Oranjeboom’, ‘3 Hammers’ and ‘Booze Gel Hell’. A compilation of everything they’ve released since 2012, ‘Still Pissed’ stacks up 41 songs in 52 minutes, single-sitting exposure to which is an imperfect way to digest this band’s blastbeats, sludgy bass implosions, high/low register twin vocal assault and drink-themed samples. Dip in intermittently, like you would a supermarket bin, for maximum effect.

ARMORY

‘World Peace… Cosmic War’

HIGH ROLLER

Following the trailblazing path left by Ambush, Air Raid and Lethal Steel – like them, youngsters embracing the ’80s sound in its most rustic form – Armory are High Roller’s latest retro Swedish speed metal find, with Oscar Carlquist from Ram in the producer’s chair. While the sci-fi thread in the lyrics and highpitched vocals immediately bring Agent Steel to mind, their frantic ‘freight train about to derail’ vibe harks back to the early days of Scanner or even Running Wild. And not only do they manage to maintain a frantic yet sharp pace without ever sounding tiresome, the nine minutes closer ‘Space Merauders’ also proves that you can still be conservative and ambitious at the same time.

BARISHI

‘Blood From The Lion’s Mouth’

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About Terrorizer Magazine

Devin Townsend: it’s a name synonymous with heavy and extreme metal, and also a name associated with the occasional foray into acoustic and country albums, not to mention albums featuring coffee loving puppets! And of course, who could forget his very own dedication to this here mag he created a few years ago with his mighty ‘Terrorizer’ song – only Onslaught had ever done a homage to a metal mag before this, if memory serves me correctly. There’s something for everyone, which is something rare in many musician’s repertoires. Devin’s enjoyed and created a rather unique musical path and 25 albums in, it’s awesome to see that this month, there are no signs of him letting up. Read all about what he’s been up to over the past few years and how he’s feeling about life in our cover story. Elsewhere this issue is jam packed with a delectable array of quality bands including plenty of UK bands – Akercocke, The Wounded Kings, Slomatics, Coltsblood, and Iron Witch – and plenty of worldwide ones too. Extreme music, no boundaries! See you next month. Darren Sadler
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