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Members include DaveEdwardson, bass; ScottKelly, vocals, guitar;JasonRoeder, drums; SteveVon Til (joined band 1990), guitar, vocals. Addresses: Record company--Relapse Records, P.O. Box 2060, Upper Darby, PA 19082 Phone: (610) 734-1000 E-mail: email: www.relapse.com.
Throughout the late 1980s, heavy metal bands owned the pop music charts. From Poison and Bon Jovi to Ratt and Ozzy Osbourne, music fans wrapped themselves in the reverb of electric guitars. However, by the early 1990s, a new style of music from the Pacific Northwest called grunge--led by Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and others--tossed metal into the scrap pile. Most heavy metal acts, unable to adapt to this change, disbanded. But Neurosis found a way to survive by "developing a style that blended industrial, heavy metal, and alternative rock with often spiritually focused lyrics," according to Steve Huey of All Music Guide, in comments available at the CDNOW website. The attention focused by the public on grunge did little to thwart Neurosis' mission for taking chances. However, exploring new sounds was nothing new for the band; in fact, with each subsequent album since their debut in 1987, Neurosis has been evolving and maturing. By adapting to the ever-changing styles of music, Neurosis is "a shining example," stated Guitar Player, "of what traditional metal can become when it takes the road less traveled."
Neurosis began its trip down the road less traveled in 1986. Formed in Oakland, California, by vocalist/guitarist Scott Kelly, bassist Dave Edwardson, and drummer Jason Roeder, Neurosis released their debut album, Pain of Mind, as a trio in 1987. Issued on the independent Alchemy label, Pain of Mind, as stated in an AOL online biography, was "discontented hardcore fury." In 1990, with the addition of vocalist and guitarist Steve Von Till, Neurosis released The Word as Law. With this album, according to the group's website, Neurosis "began to experiment with constructing music of varied textures." The band's second release marked other artistic changes. With the release of their second effort, Neurosis began incorporating visual elements into their act, building a devoted underground following.
In 1992, Neurosis continued down a more familiar path by signing with San Francisco's legendary Alternative Tentacles label to release their next two albums: Souls at Zero and Enemy of the Sun. Souls at Zero with its "mammoth sound" as Reflex reviewed, "challenge[d] the boundaries of the recording studio and their own minds." Yet, according to their website, Neurosis not only wanted to challenge themselves, but also their listeners "who dare listen to tap into the undeniable strength that they emanate--to act on the depravity that surrounds them, and join their uncompromising musical vision." These two albums also saw Neurosis incorporating more intense percussion into their music.
Neurosis implemented visual imagery, in addition to their musical intensity, to reveal the group's musical vision--imagery that articulated the band's suspicions concerning a modern consumerist society. Neurosis believed that music alone failed to fully reveal the band's outlook. Rather, they needed art and images as supplements to describe their concept. According to Neurosis, as quoted by Yahoo! Music, "The words are just one part, it takes pictures and moving pictures and sound to create the whole."
Neurosis's blend of art, words, and sound has been inspired by a variety of cultures. Unlike many rock bands, Neurosis refused to limit themselves to the influences of Western societies. Guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly told the online magazine Loop.com, "we've been inspired by all the native cultures the North American Indians, Odinism, and Druidism." Yet, Kelly continued, "we're just really kind of inspired by the idea that all people were sharing the same thoughts without having any sort of mass form of communication back in those times."
In 1996, after three years of hard work, Neurosis released Through Silver in Blood, the band's most recognized work in terms of popular and critical attention. This album, as described in an AOL online biography is "their most prophetic warning" and "furthers the scope of their vision, and wraps its black wings around the consciousness like a dire warning." The album also, as further described by AOL, is a "call to arms for the angry multitudes to either act on the atrocities around them, or simply spiral down the waiting coil of futility." However, guitarist Scott Kelly pointed out to Guitar Player that the goal for the album was to "create atmosphere with the music to use all of the instruments to create one massive sound." This album led Neurosis down two more roads less traveled: a personal invitation to tour with the legendary metal band Pantera for OzFest, as well as a professional formation of an experimental band called Tribes of Neurot.
In 1996, Tribes of Neurot released Silver Blood Transmissionwhich was described on their website as "soundscape-laden [and] experimental." Yet, with the success of Through Silver in Blood, why would Neurosis form this side project? "We formed the Tribes of Neurot," the band explained in a Corridor of Cells interview, "because we realized that the ideas and philosophies that we were dealing with as Neurosis actually require to be expressed in many different ways."
Neurosis continued down their less traveled road in 1999 by releasing Times of Grace with producer Steve Albini. With this album, CMJ New Music Magazine praised, "the band has expanded its reach considerably, interspersing the wall of pain with a few genteel ballads...." CMJ New Music Report offered their take on the album by comparing it to a famous writer: "Times of Grace is a lot like the plot of Edgar Allen Poe's The Cask of Amontillado. Each epic song is like a brick, laid to erect a tower of sound that wraps itself around its listeners and seals them in, offering no escape." Yet, it is not only the sound that seals in listeners, but also the lyrics. The band told an AOL online interviewer, "we have kind of our own mythology or folklore in which we bring our lyrics from." The band further commented that the lyrics are "like a pallet of colors in which we draw [with no] central theme . Each song kind of speaks for itself." Thus, it seems as if Neurosis has no specific message, or as the band told Corridor of Cells, "we try to avoid giving people specific messages we don't want to tell people how to experience things [only] capture the tone and the emotions behind situations."
At the beginning of a new millennium, Neurosis, along with other metal-centered groups such as Type O Negative and 16 Volt, has successfully adapted to music's ever-changing world and saved itself from heavy metal's scrap pile. Through their aural and visual albums, Neurosis, as stated on their website, "isn't a music group, it's a state of mind. A state of frustration. A state of turmoil and confusion. A state of furied aggression. A state of ominous, death tranquility--the portent of storm on the horizon of musical perception."
by Ann M. Schwalboski
Kelly, Edwardson, and Roeder formed band, 1986; released 1990's The Word as Law album; signed with Alternative Tentacles, released Souls at Zero, 1992; released Enemy of the Sun, 1993; returned two years later in 1995 with the re-release of Pain of Mind; signed with Relapse Records and released Through Silver in Blood, 1996; released Times of Grace and recorded as an expansion group called Tribes of Neurot, 1999.
- Selected discography
- As Neurosis
- Pain of Mind , Alchemy/Alternative Tentacles, 1987.
- The Word As Law , Lookout!, 1989.
- Souls at Zero , Alternative Tentacles, 1992.
- Enemy of the Sun , Alternative Tentacles, 1993.
- Through Silver in Blood , Relapse, 1996.
- Times of Grace , Relapse, 1999.
- As Tribes of Neurot
- Silver Blood Transmission , Relapse, 1996.
- CMJ New Music Magazine, November, 1999.
- CMJ New Music Report, November, 1999.
- Guitar Player, March 01, 1997.
- Reflex, November 10, 1992
- "Neurosis," America Online, http://www.members.aol.com/_ht_a/earthad43 (November 15, 1999).
- CDNOW, http://www.cdnow.com (November 15, 1999).
- Loop.com, http://www.loop.com (November 15, 1999).
- Official Site of Neurosis and Tribes of Neurot, http://www.neurosis.com (November 15, 1999).
- Yahoo! Music Finder, http://www.musicfinder.yahoo.com (November 15, 1999).
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