Neurosis - Locust Star
In the heady mid-90s when Pantera had the #1 album in the US, Phil Anselmo did more than his fair share of spreading the wealth, taking his favorite underground metal bands out on tour and plugging them in interviews every chance he got. That’s how I first heard about Neurosis.
Long story short, I didn’t get it. They were too slow. They looked too normal. I remember seeing them on MTV when I was in high school, listening for a couple minutes, and changing the channel. Yawn.
Fast forward almost 10 years to when I found this video (see below) on YouTube.
"Oh, god! What’s wrong with dude’s eyes?! Is Satan making the keyboardist fist-bomb his bass pedals?!"
By this time, I’d heard a handful of Neurosis songs from every era, but nothing really clicked for me until the palpable mania of this clip. I finally got it. I dived back into their catalog, unearthing the treasures of a band that is a true primary source for the genre I’ll begrudgingly label “post-metal”.
I’d missed them a handful of times live, but I’d heard people go on breathlessly about what a profound and spiritual experience it was seeing them perform. I didn’t NOT believe this, but I approached my first Neurosis live experience with the healthy incredulity of someone who knows the sound of hype and who has a tougher time than most with live music. Perhaps it’s my control freak tendencies, but I have trouble “letting go” whilst at a concert in the way I see others do with ease. I was excited, but wasn’t expecting to see the face of Christ.
The ONLY thing that stood out for me this evening was Neurosis. This was perhaps the most deeply felt and spiritual musical experience I’ve ever had the privilege to witness. I can’t attribute this to anything other than witnessing what Kant describes as the “thing-in-itself”, a beast of selfless propagation without moral or value.
Ascribing any of this to surface qualities like set lists or instrumentation is as relevant as talking about the shirts each band member wore. It was a celebration of life without whitewash or feel-goodery akin to psychically downloading Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God.
Neurosis do what they do and do it well, and what they do well IS quantifiable. They have a preternatural coherence as a group, every part working independently to define and color an ur-riff whose simplicity always belies its depth.
By fusing the leanness and immediacy of punk with the sprawl and ambition of prog, Neurosis make better on the promise of both, infusing animus into the latter and refinement into the former. “Through Silver in Blood” and “Locust Star” sound like the future in the same way that Blade Runner or Alien look less dated than The Phantom Menace. Vision gives rise to relevance.
The night ended with no encore nor a single word from band to audience. Perfect. Thank you, Neurosis, for a fantastic healing night – and probably the roughest moshing I’d done since I was in high school.
- Alee Karim