Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lost Classics -Neurosis 'Enemy Of The Sun' (Neurot/Alternative Tentacles, 1993)

With the very welcome news that Oakland, California legends  Neurosis are once again to visit Irish shores in just a couple of week's time, it seems like now is the right time for a look back on one particular gem in the band's glittering back catalogue , 'Enemy Of The Sun' .

The fourth studio effort from the band, 'Enemy Of The Sun' opens with a chilling sample from the film ;The Sheltering Sky', a simple three words: "Are you lost?,".The reply? "Yes". What follows is 'Lost' , possibly the most astonishing opener to an album ever, the band sampling, as they do throughout the album, seminal Vietnam doc 'In the year of the pig', as well as the late , great Brandon Lee, with said samples underpinning  possibly the most menacing doom riff ever written. Frontmen Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till's eerie, chanted vocals, which become something akin to the howls of the damned by the end of the song, are perfectly pitched, raw and roaring. It's quite simply one of the finest songs ever written, starting with an agonisingly drawn out , prowling bass line, and ending in a demented fury of white noise and clipped, distorted sampling.

What follows is an album that is in equal parts soundtrack to apocalypse, but also , bizarrely,  life affirming in it's own way. Witness the  haunting choral strains that open 'Raze The Stray', that give way to a riff that sounds like tectonic plates shifting, or the evil, , monotonous, overdriven groove of 'Lexicon', , which, with it's samples of monks' holy  chanting, reveals  a twisted irony given the demonic din they are part of.

Let's be honest. 'Enemy Of The Sun' is not for the faint hearted. A head crushingly loud, and at times terrifying journey into an abyss that few would dare tread, it is also the quintessential Neurosis album, combining the band's mastery of atmospheric textures, with some of the best doom riffs ever written. It is also one of the few albums , in my humble opinion, that deserves the term 'cinematic'. Epic in it's scope, and it's sound, 'EOTS' is comfortably up there with some of the best heavy albums ever made, and a true 'lost classic', nay lost masterpiece. Let's just hope that when they grace our fair isle on July 25th , they see fit to air a few from this behemoth of a record. See ya at the bar!

Stephen O' Connor for Born Again Nihilist


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