Neurosis – Retrospective

Posted in Spotlight by unartignyc on 2009/09/23

A few weeks ago I was shooting the shit at a show with Ty from Team Robespierre. At one point of our conversation he ‘confronted’ me with this one particular question that I have always struggled with. “What’s your favorite band?” It had been a while since someone asked me this and I came to realize that after all these years I still don’t have an ad hoc answer, even though Joy Division is always on the tip of my tongue. In a way music doesn’t work for me like that. Individual releases or bands usually represent a certain time in my life rather than having this overall greatness that outshines anything that’s currently in rotation. It’s almost like a photo album, a very nostalgic affair. Every once in a while you pull it off the shelf to let it take you back in time. Listening to Ministry’s “Thieves” for example immediately brings back memories of a beloved club called Farmer’s Inn, a place where I wasted a good portion of my youth. Does this make Ministry my favorite band? No it doesn’t, because music can’t be ranked by such standards or criteria, at least not by me. Working on the Neurosis retrospective didn’t quite change this outlook but it made me realize that I might want to add another band to the pool of names to bust out whenever the ‘favorite band’ subject gets brought up. It’s not like I had forgotten about their ability to take over ones body and mind with heavy waves of sonic bliss. It’s more like the nostalgia filled infusion caused by editing several hours of Neurosis footage brought back something to the forefront of my mind that I had known for a long time: Neurosis is indeed one the great bands out there, easily on the same level with those that I consider to be the greatest.
Below is previously unreleased video footage shot by me between 1994 and 2008, as well as writings by Kevin Egan (Beyond,  1.6 Band, Twenty Four Thousand Dollars) and Stone of Trust Zine.

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[Kevin Egan | Beyond]

Neurosis at the Limelight (and PWAC)

This was in 1994. I went to New Brunswick, New Jersey to see Doc Hopper and Sticks and Stones in someone’s basement. I can’t remember whose. After the show, Pete from Sticks and Stones offered me a ride back to the city in their van. All day long I was lugging around a box of 1.6 Band records Charles Maggio had given me and my arms were cramping up and my back was killing me. During the ride back to NYC, Pete and his girlfriend told me they were going to see Neurosis at the Limelight and suggested I go with them. I thought about it but those records were about as troublesome as could be and I couldn’t wait to get home to unload them. Pete and his girlfriend persisted. By this time, Souls at Zero was a staple in my collection and Enemy of the Sun was pulling up into a close second. A lot of people had dismissed the direction Neurosis’ music had gone over the past few years but I fuckin’ loved it. It was crazier than anything I had heard up until that point. It sounded a little like Slayer but slower and more neurotic. Less about Satan and more about insanity. It was more hypnotic than Slayer. Like I said, it was unlike anything I had heard.

I decided to go the show. The first thing I did when we got there was unload the box of 1.6 records at the coat check. That was a relief. It took three or four beers to kill the pain that was in my arms. Somehow I lost Pete and his girlfriend fairly early but ran into some friends that were standing right against the stage. They were drunk and I did my best to catch up to wherever they were, alcoholically speaking.

Buzzoven opened up. They were sick. It’s been awhile but I remember the singer smashing bottles of Rolling Rock on the stage every minute or so. Glass was flying everywhere. Luckily, no one had to leave with a shard sticking out of their forehead or anything of that nature. We survived their relentlessly brutal attack.

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By the time Neurosis hit the stage, I was feeling good. The Limelight was the perfect venue for a Neurosis show. It was once a church and had been converted to a nightclub. Usually, the bridge and tunnel crowd was the crux of their weekend clientele, but this night was strictly for gothic metal maniacs. The creepy ambience the venue illuminated complimented the films that projected behind Neurosis as they played. It also added to the psychotic music that was coming out of their amplifiers. If there ever was a show in which I got lost in the moment, this was it. What they were doing was so overwhelming, you felt as if you were a character in a horror movie, excited and frightened by the most terrifying of sounds and horrifying of images.

I can’t remember how long they played. It seemed like a day or two, but realistically was probably about an hour. For years after, I spoke of that show as one of the most memorable I’d ever seen. The effect it had on me psychologically was profound. I listened to their LP’s consistently after that show. And when Through Silver in Blood came out, I just about had a shit fit. It was so fuckin’ fierce.

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Sometime in 1996 or so, my band, The Last Crime, had a chance to open for them on Long Island at the PWAC. I can’t remember who but someone had promised to lend us a bass amp and when the time came, they showed up at the show without the amp. The promoter suggested we ask the bass player from Neurosis if we could borrow his amp. “Really?” I asked. They seemed so scary on stage. I never would’ve dared to speak to them, expecting them to be as terrifying as the music they made. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They were really nice guys, helped us set up the bass amp and politely watched our set, which was nothing compared to the set they performed directly after us. I can’t remember why there wasn’t a lot of people there. There might’ve been a snowstorm or something, or maybe people on Long Island just hadn’t caught on to the Neurosis phenomenon yet. But by the time they hit the stage, there was only about fifty people in the audience. The Limelight show was practically sold out. Regardless, they were still incredible. Just as good as at the Limelight. They didn’t seem bothered by the small crowd. They seemed more concerned with their music and how it was presented. That was a huge lesson I learned that day as a performer. It doesn’t matter how many people show up. You’re there to perform for those who do.

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Over the years, their influence on other bands has been tremendous. Their hypnotic grooves. Those wild drum interludes. The films and videos. You’ve seen other bands do all of these things but no one has ever been able to put it all together like Neurosis. What they’ve done musically is unmatched in regards to their material and presentation. To put it simply, they are one for the record books. Most certainly.
Kevin Egan | September 2009

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[Stone | Trust]
I missed out on the first European Tour. Perhaps because the wrong magazines had written just the right things: “This is the shit, Hardcore has never been this intense, you get the idea.“
I didn’t miss out on the first album, even though I can’t say that I loved it. Nevertheless, Neurosis got me in the end…

In the early Nineties I had this job putting up posters for shows in my city. One of the shows I was working my ass off for, in the streets of this little town called Bremen, was Neurosis at the Schlachthof. To be honest, what I was expecting I can’t remember. I went to almost every show in Bremen. And there were quite a few of them. What I do recall is that I will never forget what happened on that night. Most likely it was just another Neurosis show, i.e.: a mind melting assault on the senses. Tribal drums, monstrous guitars, voices screaming in pain, tales from the apocalypse outlayed in epic proportions, but never corny, contrived or pathetic. This was the real stuff. Above all, not only literally speaking, it was their multimedia projections that surely put a spell on me. Staring at aggressively psychedelic colorplay, blood spilling and people killing, I stood in front of this mayhem with a distinct feeling of just having been knocked to my knees, unable to move like a deer in headlights, my mind being sucked in by the maelstrom of noise and light.

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Is there really anything else to be said? What songs they played or how long the show was? Who cares. It could have been twenty minutes (it certainly lasted longer) with the same devastating effect. Neurosis left me speechless for quite a while. After that I got a hold of every album they did and never went back to their debut.

Having attended Neurosis’ epiphanies a half a dozen times, I came to realize that the apocalypse comes down on oneself only once. The sensual overkill I initially experienced can’t be replicated night after night. Nowadays I will therefore choose my healthy dose of catharsis carefully.
Stone | Bremen, Germany September 2009

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6 Responses

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  1. xxloveandhatexx said, on 2009/11/27 at 12:57

    Thanks for this restropective. It’s nice to read few words about them.
    I saw them 7 times since 2004 (Arf, i was in Haarlem too).
    I love Neurosis like we are from the same blood. I can’t say what is my favourite record, my favourite song , i love so much souls at zero, through silver in blood too, times of grace, the eye of every storm (particulary a season in the sky)…in fact i love all stuff from them. For me , they are the best creation in the world…i can”t imagine a world with no neurosis.
    They are the best ever, they are not just music.

  2. aaf said, on 2009/10/11 at 17:36

    Nice footage, thanks a lot. Neurosis is amazing, I saw them live last July in Haarlem, Holland.

  3. Peter Farris said, on 2009/09/26 at 00:28

    Truly amazing performances I’ve never see before, and I scour youtube and the net for live Neurosis. Thanks so much for making these vids available. My hope one day is that Neurot can gather enough of the footage out there, both pro and amateur, and release a definitive live documentation for my favorite band of all time.

  4. @ftrc said, on 2009/09/25 at 05:25

    Man, this is great. thanks for sharing those videos.

  5. Kevin said, on 2009/09/24 at 12:29

    Awesome post. I remember seeing Neurosis on the same tour that Kevin describes. It was my third time seeing them, but it was probably the best performance I’ve ever seen them play. My favorite record of theirs is Enemy of the Sun, so I’m sure that had a lot to do with it. Thanks for sharing the footage. Not to plug my own site too much, but here’s a link to a video of a show in 1990 that a friend of mine shot:


  6. 1h05 said, on 2009/09/24 at 11:34

    Great, thx for this one. I saw them in Berlin some month ago. Not as good as the old stuff, but still nice.


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