Neurosis – Live at Roadburn 2007   1 comment

After 25 years and some 20 albums later, Neurosis have released their first real live album. They did release a couple of bootleg live albums back in 2002 and 2003 but this is the first professionally packaged live recorded release. Neurosis have done so much throughout their career with switches in style and sounds that they have a mostly divided fan-base with fans liking different era’s of the bands output but of course there is those dedicated fans that love everything they have done. Whatever camp you live in, there is no doubting the rise from crusty wannabees to the darlings of the doom, sludge, ambient rock and everything in-between scene has been remarkable. Whether they deserve all this praise is up for debate but people do worship the band and one of their biggest worshiping grounds is the Roadburn festival which is where this live album was recorded in 2007. The difference between albums like 1987’s “Pain Of Mind” and releases of the last 10 to 15 years is huge, so much so you wouldn’t think it is the same band so putting a live set-list together for this band must be a challenge. It is like saying to yourself, what band do we want to be tonight ? This 77 minute live recording draws material from more recent albums like “Given To The Rising, The Eye Of Every Storm, Times Of Grace and A Sun That Never Sets.” Fans of earlier material might be disappointed by not offering a more diverse set but this is their set from 2007 and not a live “best of” kind of collection. While the previous two live albums had the bootleg tag and this one doesn’t, it plays out as a third installment to the series documenting the next phase of their career. It is also hard not to notice how these songs sound so much like newer bands but remember, those bands stole the sound from Neurosis and not the other way around like one uneducated fool tried to tell me just a few days ago. Neurosis are a unique band but its like you hear this sound and style so much these days that the impact the band did have has sadly been weakened through no fault of their own.

For newcomers to the band, this is a great album to start with as the performance is flawless but for old-timers, the absence of older songs does disappoint and I will admit I was wishing for more of a focus on some early classics but you can’t win them all. Starting with “Given To The Rising” the band are clearly in top-form, the track with its apocalyptic riff and discordant, symphonic vibes. It is without a doubt one of their better songs and the ideal opening track. It is so musically visual that you can close your eyes and imagine yourself front row and center being blown away by the speakers melting with psychedelic energy. The second track is “Burn” from “The Eye Of Every Storm” and it continues the spectacular performance, maintaining the vibe with stunning moments of jamming and bleak spoken word sections. “A Season In The Sky” is a track that isn’t so much heavy musically as it is emotionally heavy and this version of it is mesmerizing. “At The End Of The Road” must be a challenge to play but it is even a bigger challenge to listen to. The song demands attention from the listener but if you are not hooked in, you will find this piece simply boring. Getting hooked in is the thing and this song never did it for me and it still doesn’t but some of you will love its primal power. The second half of this album loses me however, I have always been a picky Neurosis fan and the choices of “Crawl Back In” and “Distill” leaved me craving a change in mood. “Distill” has its moments however, the tribal drumming and striking melodies within the 9 minute piece make the song but it is padded out too much for my tastes. “Water Is Not Enough” at least offers a change of pace with its straight-forward bass-lines and wall of sound approach and this gives you the first real chance on the album for a traditional rock experience rather than the psychedelic, progressive ambience of the rest of the album. A rush of feedback leads into “Left To Wander” and I am usually getting pretty restless by this stage of the album. It’s over an hour into the album by now and this will offend the Neurosis faithful but their loud then quiet then loud style gets a little on my nerves.

The album ends on the 10 minute “The Doorway” and it is a relief to find this monster of a tune on the album. The cinematic performance of the track is breath-taking, exhausting to listen to but the perfect way to close a live Neurosis album. I will confess to the fact that I am a old-school Neurosis fan with a preference for the earlier tunes back in the day when they were truly innovative and played with a more wall of riffs approach. These days they still have some of that element but it is interspersed with folkie passages or ambient self-indulgence which usually leaves me looking for something else to slide into the CD player. This then takes me back to my opening paragraph, if you love the more recent body of work then you will find nothing wrong with this at all. I would prefer to sit and watch a live DVD of this concert than this CD just so I can take in the visual element just that bit more and not have to rely on my imagination alone to get through this absorbing 77 minutes. I am going to give this 2 separate ratings one for the hardcore Neurosis fan and one for my own personal feelings on the album and the songs contained within. It is the only fair way to really judge this album..
For the fans…..9/10
For me……..6/10
Neurosis Official Website
Official Neurosis blog
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Neurosis @ ReverbNation
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Neurosis at Neurot Recordings

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Posted December 9, 2010 by doommantia in Neurosis

One response to “Neurosis – Live at Roadburn 2007

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  1. I was there :).

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