Neurosis – Souls At Zero Reissue (Neurot Recordings)

Thursday, 21st March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Long considered an unheralded classic, Souls At Zero is the set-up album for Neurosis’ ascent into underground darlings. Originally released in 1992,Souls saw the Californians move away from their nascent hardcore beginnings, and into their dalliance with keyboards, elongated song structures, and the tribal hue that still resonates today. Now remastered and repackaged, it serves to note just how influential the band is.

Essentially the foundation for the post-metal sound that Isis, Cult of Luna, and Rosetta have come to embody, Souls At Zero revels in its sparse and stripped-down nature, with stark numbers like opener “To Crawl Under One’s Skin” and album highlight “A Chronology For Survival,” a song that benefits from the deft usage of a sprawling bassline and violins, which at the time was simply unheard of.

The production values of this were also ahead of its time, with the band’s wall of guitars meshing nicely with samples (check out the harrowing sample on “Sterile Vision”). In contrast to their later works, Souls is not as labored, for the quick and intense strike of songs like the title track and “The Web” demonstrate just how frothing at the mouth the band was (at the time) to remove the constraints of hardcore.

Through Silver and Blood remains Neurosis’ paramount body of work, and their most exploited album, Souls At Zero has a much a different feel and vibe to it, something the band has never quite replicated. On Through Silver, they were clearly self-aware, but had the tools to see their vision through; on Souls At Zero, there’s this naive sense that not even the collective headspace of Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till knew what they were stumbling upon. Definitely a worthwhile reissue.

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