Originally written by Erik Thomas
Why has it taken so long for me to write this review? I’ll tell you why. I keep falling asleep. With the shifting ambience of an oncoming storm (pun intended), the album’s vernacular title suits its mood perfectly, and as a person that finds storms soothing-this album also immediately sends me drifting into a grating yet eyelid lowering stupor. Neurosis have ultimately made a living by merging ambient atmospherics and droning soundscapes with building crescendos and bursts of monolithic, subterranean noise, and The Eye of Every Storm is no different as each track travels the same tidal structure and two-fold delivery.
The first few nights I listened to this album I never made it past the vast title track, so I started listening to the album starting with a new track each time, I still fell asleep after 30 or so minutes, but at least I got to hear the whole album. The hypnotic builds and eventual climaxes are of course similar to fellow noisesters Isis, Cult of Luna, etc, but Neurosis’s expert grace and trancelike builds are beyond compare, at the expense of their heavy shifts not being quite as on par with the mentioned acts. Mainly due to a sparse Steve Albini production, the lengthy acoustic/ambient episodes that lead shuddering crescendos are Neurosis’ focal points, as the “heavy’ delivery comes across as somewhat empty, but still manages to feel like frothing waves crashing on a craggy shoreline. Scott Kelly’s droning chant also purveys the album’s minimalist tones and trancelike atmosphere, and quite simply the end result is a justifiable cure for insomnia, in a good way.
Each of the eight superbly crafted hymnals range from eight tracks from 5 to eleven minutes, and all follow the same slow build and mountainous peak with an array of synths, FX, string instruments and other texture adding devices. Generally the halfway point of the massive title track is my limit, as I can’t remember anything after than other than waking up. That both says something for the sheer lull inducing ability of the atmospherics and also the slight lack of edge to the songs’ eventual pinnacle, as it fails to wrest me from slumber’s deep grasp.
The instrumental “Shelter” is hauntingly beautiful, and minus Kelly’s vocals you are simply left to absorb the bleak tone’s nerve deadening ambience. The funeral like dirge of “A Season in the Sky” is depressively engrossing as it slithers monotonously with lethargic ease. The album’s second eleven minuter, “Bridges” utilizes stark piano notes to accompany the seemingly endless build, before it eventually erupts into the album’s most violent zenith, with the guitars of Kelly and Steven Von Till plummeting into a far grimier, caustic territory. As if the album’s already effective modes of ambience weren’t enough, a cello is used to deliver the rending “I can See You”, with a note progression that pierces your heart.
Other than the grainy production that saps some of the more powerful moments, The Eye of Every Storm is pretty much a perfect album. And while those thirsty for energy and a quick fix of metal chaos will sneer at the seemingly tame ambience Neurosis delivers, those with a more artistic ear and appreciation for patience and timing will find this album the perfect bedmate for their introspective diversions.