In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about an album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally. The fourth in this (increasingly popular, apparently!) series of guest reviews is Forest Bohrer of Adzes--who, incidentally, just put out a very good album that you can read about here. Read on!
Written by: Forest Bohrer
Time brings them all home
To the eye of every storm
Upon the landscape of heavy music, Neurosis looms. The Oakland-based collective has produced a slew of landmark records through the decades, influencing multiple generations of musicians and spawning entire genres of like-minded bands. Their most well-known record is the apocalyptic machine that is Through Silver In Blood, a sprawling seventy minutes of oppressive darkness. And yet, when I think of Neurosis records that had the profoundest influence on my life, 2004’s The Eye of Every Storm is the record I return to.
At the turn of the 21st century, the band had just delivered Times of Grace, a masterpiece perhaps even surpassing Through Silver In Blood in emotional weight and crushing sludge. And rather trying to reach the great heights of Times, or the depths of companion EP Sovereign, the band turned to a more contemplative, organic approach. A Sun That Never Sets and its successor The Eye of Every Storm featured gravelly singing, acoustic guitars, cellos, complex harmonies, and matured songwriting, but are no less weighty than other Neurosis albums for that.
Musically, there are plenty of moments on The Eye of Every Storm that feature Neurosis’ signature power. The ambient intro of "A Season In The Sky" breaks into distorted guitars and pounding drums, overlaid with raspy singing rather than harsh screams. "Left to Wander" begins with synthetic noise and tribal drums that would fit well on Through Silver in Blood. In the midst of "Bridges," an absolutely massive overdriven bass swallows the listener. However, the quieter moments of the record are equally engrossing, and bring new sounds into the mix: piano, strings, and distant pulsating drums combine in "Bridges," and abstract synthesizer chords at the start of the title track that evoke an almost Renaissance music tonality. Steve Albini’s mix provides immense space for these sounds to breathe and resonate.
In 2008, illness struck me, resulting in several months of treatment, surgery, and recovery that left me shaken and drained. I took to walking my neighborhood, first short distances and then longer as I recovered more of my strength. I used these walks to contemplate my illness, and the personal approach of the lyrics on The Eye of Every Storm made the record a constant companion. "No River To Take Me Home" and "I Can See You" grapple deeply with mortality and grief, while the title track provides a sense of acceptance and peace. These songs provided a framework to accept my own grief and fear, and remain a source of comfort and contemplation today.
The marketing at the time rather curiously focused on a softer, gentler Neurosis, but this record is no less heavy than the rest of Neurosis’ discography. It is a masterpiece of songwriting and experimentation, and a record that explores a range of emotions and musical ideas. In an oeuvre as exceptional as Neurosis’, this is the one album I return to most often, and the one that draws me in most powerfully.
Neurosis - The Eye of Every Storm was released 2004 from Neurot Recordings. Neurosis' assorted links can be found at their official site.
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