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Neurosis - Souls At Zero CD (album) cover

SOULS AT ZERO

Neurosis

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.21 | 51 ratings

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EatThatPhonebook
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 8/10

"Souls At Zero" is a dark, mysterious piece of work, seminal for the forming of Sludge Metal and not only.

Neurosis nowadays is considered the perfect example of "post-metal",a genre not everybody accepts. But before their glorious days, in the 80's they released two Hardcore albums that were very much forgotten, especially when "Souls At Zero" came out. This album was a first approach to the sound that Neurosis still has today. In a way, "Souls At Zero" is the band's second debut.

On this album Neurosis maintained some Hardcore influences, especially in the vocals, which never loose their intensity. But mostly, the sound is very much different. The band now incorporates heavier riffs, even though not quite sludgy yet, a very strong progressive influence, especially concerning the structure of these songs, but also noticeable in the instrumentation, which some times includes violin, flute, or sax. There's also quite a lot of sampling, in almost every intro. I've heard a few people saying that Neurosis were influenced by King Crimson here, and you notice that at times, particularly when it comes to layer the sound in songs like the title track. But those experimental post-punk bands from the 80's are a much heavier influence, like Prong but especially Swans (I do think Neurosis are the official heirs of the latter band). Of course, there is some Black Sabbath in the mix, otherwise it wouldn't sound so dark and doomy at times.

Indeed, "Souls At Zero" is a pretty dark, claustrophobic album, with dark melodies and a gloomy sound. But that's the thing of this album, it never loses its intensity, even when the music quiets down and gets a little cleaner. Listening to this feels like being trapped in a sort of well, you're calling for help but an angel comes to you and says "you're on your own, it's up to you to live or die". The music is most of the time stretched out and repetitive, ironically, I do feel like maybe the shorter songs end unfinished, like if they were just too short. Neurosis is at it's best with long songs, its a fact (exceptions later in their career will be made, and plenty of them).

These ten tracks have all good moments, some of them are fantastic; the build up of the opener "To Crawl Under One's Skin" is just perfect, and a perfectly executed song as well, that incarnates the very essence of what this album is, along with the following track, "Souls At Zero", another flawless track, mysterious, tense, that eventually gets heavy and very dark. Highlights are also "Stripped", possibly the most progressive song here, or the hypnotic "Takeahnase". A mention should be given also for "A Chronology For Survival" and "Sterile Vision" two really good tracks that are essential for the structure of the album.

Overall "Souls At Zero" is a dark, mysterious piece of work, but it's also a seminal album for the forming of Sludge Metal and not only. If you are into that sort of experimental metal, this is a must, mostly because of its importance in creating the genre.

EatThatPhonebook | 4/5 |

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