Twenty years ago this month, Neurosis released their fifth full length Through Silver In Blood which was one of their defining moments. The band came from a hardcore/crust sound and eventually evolved into the atmospheric doom/sludge heard here. But it’s not just this transformation that’s so amazing, it’s the scope and breadth of this album in particular that sets it apart from their previous releases. Neurosis transformed their sound and selves which effectively poised them for bigger and better things. One listen to Through Silver in Blood and it’s easy to see why they’ve been around for 30 years and could easily be around for many, many more.
Metal as a whole was quite busy in 1996: Arch Enemy, Gojira, and The Haunted formed. Acid Bath released their venomous Paegan Terrorism Tactics, Cannibal Corpse with Vile, and Eyehategod with their seminal Dopesick. As good as all those releases were, it was Neurosis that stole the show with this defining and awe inspiring outing. This album was my first foray into Neurosis and what a starting point it was. After spending what I can only remember as weeks with this one — and nothing else — I dug deeper into their back catalog but always found myself returning to this one. Through Silver in Blood marked a turning point for the band, this was where the Neurosis sound became a trademark. The monolithic guitar tones, tribal elements, and tons of wide open space would consume me for weeks on end and trying to decipher everything was just too much for a simple listening session. It’s a sacrilege to just pick one or two songs out as this one demands the full 70 minutes. It was intended as several pieces to a whole and it’s time well spent to experience it that way.
The one thing today that looms large in memory is just how much of an impact this album had. I was 22 and already possessed a wide musical palette but nothing could prepare me for the flood of emotions I would have here. The varied tonality and intensity was something I had never heard from the same artist, let alone on the same album. It would take years to at least get a firm grasp on it all. The utter desolation in tracks like “Enclosure In Flame” and “Strength of Fates” would at times prove too much and I would stop to process what I had just heard. But it’s moments like this that have kept me returning all these years. Then there’s the bending riffs in “Purify” that hooked me on first spin and I still say this is one of the band’s finest moments, I may be partial here but no single moment since has captivated me quicker or more decisively. But also, it’s in the transitions from crushing doom to violently powerful tribal elements that struck a chord. The bands ability to lull the listener into a sense of respited bliss only to crush this tranquility with an iron fist is something they have perfected over the years but it was something fairly new for them here and it worked extremely well. I’ve always called it the peaceful yin to the violent yang as they both compliment each other and propel the sound in directions they had only hinted at previously.
The band tooled their songwriting to epic proportions on this album, continuing to write about evolution and spirituality but the scope had broadened significantly. I’ve returned countless times to study these lyrics and each time I’ve done this through the years I gleam a different perspective and different meanings. So in a lot of ways this album has grown with me and I can only think of a handful of albums from my past that have had the same impact and staying power. One such band is Gorguts and these two have a lot in common when it comes to their lyrics, even if approaching from different angles. They both have carved out careers with exceptional songwriting, extreme musicianship, and meaningful — albeit difficult at times — content.
Neurosis have amassed ten full lengths, countless EP’s, splits, compilations and live albums over the course of their steadfast 30 years. No wonder so many have tried to emulate the band but it stands as testament that no one has ever successfully replicated what the band has done. The select few that have come the closest are their own entities and have their own unique sound but have all drawn upon the deep well of Neurosis and this album in particular for inspiration. Through Silver in Blood is the benchmark album for the band and successfully opened the door for future experimentation and sonic exploration. I literally could yap for days on end about this album and this band but much has been said over the years so I will just leave you with the following album link in hopes that you will experience the epic grandeur of a band truly finding its best moment for yourself.