Is Neurosis’ “At the Well” outlaw metal? Nah, I can hardly type the phrase outlaw metal without picturing Mr. Bob Ritchie, his cowboy hat, and his shit-eating grin. Is it doom, then? Neurosis practically invented that particular sub-genre of metal way back in the ’90s, long before the word became in vogue to describe slow and heavy. Seems kinda silly, then, to describe Neurosis in such a way, now. Ditto, hipster-metal and any other hyphenated adjective. “At the Well,” IS some kind of heavy, however, and needs to be heard.
One can find commonalities between “At the Well,” the first track released from the band’s forthcoming Honor Found in Decay ( 10/30 Neurot), and Earth’s methodical exploration of burnt and barren landscapes of the American West. Yet, unlike Earth, there’s more than slight pushes and pulls going on here. Scott Kelly’s vocals practically writhe with despair. The rhythm section pounds slowly, evenly, and with unwavering determination. And, Steve von Till’s guitars have this habit of slithering in between the electronics and keyboards of Noah Landis only to overwhelm them when opportunity hits. Make mo mistake, there is plenty opportunity for that heavy to hit over the course of these 10+ minutes, and plenty of time to contemplate bigger questions than what to label Neurosis as they continue to redefine metal again and again. It’s heavy and it needs to be heard.
STREAM: Nerosis – At the Well via NPR
Dagdrøm may be be the first full-length by the Toronto doom/drone duo, Nadja, in two years, but in that time Aidan Baker & Leah Buckareff haven’t exactly been quiet. Remember, earlier this year Baker released the way ambitious Spectrum of Distraction, an album consisting of 98 tracks spread over two CDS, meant to be played on random, and featuring no fewer than 18 different guest drummers. One of whom, by the way, was Mac McNeilly of the Jesus Lizard, who also manned the kit during the recording of Dagdrøm.
Thankfully, for those who like their songs served up in more traditional manners, Dagdrøm, and it’s title track embedded below, shares more in common with Nadja’s 2009 release, When I See the Sun Always Shines on TV. That release may have been a collection of covers, unlikely interpretations of works by My Bloody Valentine, The Cure, Slayer, and Elliott Smith and others, but it also served notice that the overwhelming, suffocating guitar sound of Nadja, second only to Sunn O))) in terms of sheer terror, could also work within a verse-chorus-verse structure.
Don’t hear it yet? There is indeed a song buried beneath the heft of “Dagdrøm.” It’s tender, too. Give it nine minutes, or so, and you’ll see. There’s the glacially paced, metal-shoegazer part and that drones on. And what a wonderful drone it is, by the way. And slowly, ever so slowly it peels back, the stomp boxes are turned off, and it’s just some simple chords and tenderly manipulated vocals. See, I wasn’t kidding. Heavy can be beautiful.