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TIMES OF GRACE

Neurosis

Experimental/Post Metal


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3 stars I used to listen to this a lot when I was in high school. After owning it for a while I sold it, but now I wish I still had it. I've since downloaded the album to re-evaluate it, and it's not too bad. I'm not particularly keen on this sort of music, but Neurosis create an interesting and dark atmosphere. While it's extremely heavy and noisy, most of it is rather slow, and it feels like they're having to pull sounds from their instuments.

If I have any gripes it's that the sludgy pace can be tedious, and some of the growled vocals don't work too well in my opinion (they sound a bit silly). I do like the production and the dynamics of the music, but it's not something I'd care to listen to too often. Three stars.

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Send comments to Mr. Punch (BETA) | Report this review (#149623)
Posted Thursday, November 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Times of Grace is the sixth studio album from US experimental and doomy metal act Neurosis. I rated the predecessor called Through Silver in Blood ( 1996) 5 stars. I really think itīs a great intense and angry album with many layers and qualities. So I was a bit anxious as to how Times of Grace would sound. After listening to an album that you feel is a masterpiece most bands dissapoint with their next release. Thatīs definitely not the case with Times of Grace which is an excellent album and not a disappointment at all even though it doesnīt quite reach the hights of Through Silver in Blood IMO.

The music is still unmistakably Neurosis and weīre treated with angry, heavy, doomy and intense metal. The tribal like drumming has been toned down a bit and there are a few more clean vocals but other than that Neurosis sound just like they did on the last two albums. The experimental side of the band is of course why they are here on PA and itīs as present as ever. The use of bagpipes is one of the progressive features I noticed. But I also think I hear some brass ( maybe flugelhorn?) and cello as well. The elements are additions to the trademark Neurosis sound though. Not defining for the sound. Another experimental feature is the unconventional structure of the songs which is something I greatly enjoy. Neurosis excel in doomy and bleak landscapes of anger and frustration. They emphasise emotion rather than complex playing. So donīt expect to find anything that will satisfy your craving for fast and complex metal riffing on Times of Grace.

Itīs actually one of the reasons why it has taken me almost ten years and several tries in those years before I found the charm in Neurosis music. Times of Grace was the first album I heard from the band and I was instantly let down. I just didnīt get it at all. Sure there were some interesting elements in their music but why was this band so legendary ? Neurosis have been creeping in on me in those ten years though and Iīm so happy they did. Itīs all about atmosphere and dark emotions.

The songs are generally crushingly heavy and the very dirty/ raw production makes the music sound particularly primitive at times. This is of course on purpose and once you start digging youīll discover more layers in the noisy riffing and sometimes even some very melodic and memorable parts. Songs like The Doorway, Under The Surface, The Last Youīll Know and End of the Harvest are good examples of the really heavy songs on the album while songs like Belief and Away shows the more melodic side of the band. The songs are generally pretty long ( between 6 and 9 minutes) with a few exceptions in the four shorter instrumental tracks Suspended In Light, Exist, Descent and The Road To Sovereignty.

As a side note Neurosis ambient/ experimental side project Tribes of Neurot ( which includes all members of Neurosis along with additional musicians) released the album Grace ( 1999) alongside Times of Grace. The two albums are meant to be played simultaneously which should give a special listening experience. Iīm not sure how this can be done technically but I would really like to try this one day.

The musicianship is excellent. Donīt make the mistake of thinking these guys canīt play because the pace is so slow. There are plenty of fierce playing on display here.

The production has been somewhat of an issue for me but after listening to the album many times Iīm really happy with the noisy and raw sound that Steve Albini has crafted. The sound is very stripped down and as a consequence the music sounds much more primitive than on previous albums.

Iīve been giving it a lot of thought what rate I should give Times of Grace. For a long time I considered giving the album 5 stars as I really feel the album is worth more than a 4 star rating. On the other hand Iīm a bit hesitant and thatīs enough for me to only give Times of Grace a 4 star rating. Iīll come back and re-evaluate some time in the future though. Given the test of time this might be a masterpiece after all. Itīs a very recommendable album but not the place to start for new fans of the band. I would start with Through Silver in Blood which is just a notch more polished and accessible.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#190529)
Posted Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Neurosis has never been known to make soothing relaxation music, but this time it looks like they intentionally wanted to make it as hard as possible to get into their music. Times of Grace is easily their harshest and rawest album so far. The sound is dirty and almost demo like and what little they used to offer in melody has been stripped down.

They didn't economize on the songwriting though. This slab of angst ridden doom is not less then 66 minutes long and each of the tracks crushes along with thick sludge riffs, intense vocals and unique ambient background arrangements. The tribal percussion that Neurosis used a lot on previous album has all but disappeared. Also the more upbeat tracks are absent, making this into a slow plodding and incredibly dense album.

Because of its hermetic and daunting nature, I prefer to take this album in smaller chunks, usually starting with Belief and continuing with some of the album's strongest cuts like End Of The Harvest and Away. If you would still not be convinced of the huge influence of Neurosis on post-metal bands like Isis and Cult of Luna, then End of The Harvest should sure dissolve any remaining doubts.

On many occasions it has the outlook of a masterpiece, but as a whole it's too tough, difficult and bleak to have much appeal outside of the fanbase. For the occasional bystander I would much recommend Times Of Grace and Souls At Zero. 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#286843)
Posted Thursday, June 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Any Colour You Like
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars For the life of me, I can't understand why 'Times of Grace' is rated so low on this website. Personally, it ranks as one of my favourite cornerstone albums of modern experimental metal, even with some of the obvious flaws. Neurosis are famous for being the instigators of the 'post-metal' movement, but as this album shows, their vision and execution go far beyond your run-of-the-mill style post metal. Indeed, calling this post metal would probably detract from the overall attraction of the album. This is brutal, thought provoking, dark, heavy and mystical music. Make of it what you will. That's it's beauty.

As you may expect, the riffing is heavy and dense, paced in a low to mid tempo (although not drone). The crushing density of the soundscapes however is not simply limited to stereotypically metal, indeed, the most cerebral and emotionally crushing track on the album is thoroughly minimalist, with other movements containing sinister but odd instrumentation like bagpipes. The combination of paint-shredding vocals, martial grooves and dense orchestrations creates a wonderfully ornamental atmosphere. Indeed, paraphrasing a contemporary (I can't remember where I got this from, so apologies in advance), one could do worse than to stare into the eye of the wolf on the album cover while listening to the album. Then you'll get it. While the trademark heaviness is pleasing and powerful, I must admit that on occasion it does seem a bit predictable, but stylistically that's probably the point. Also, while the production is a little messy and murky, in the overall aesthetical design, the slightly chaotic blueprint only further enhances the atmosphere. Don't fret though, it's not underground black metal bad.

Those looking to get into post metal would probably be advised to look elsewhere at first. This is by no means an easy album to admire or grasp. However, if you persist with it, it will reward you immensely. The maelstrom of emotions and imagery present here will not only keep you interested for repeated plays, but will also give you a greater appreciation of the ironic subtleties of this behemoth of a band.

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Send comments to Any Colour You Like (BETA) | Report this review (#448316)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 8/10

"Times Of Grace" is the most spiritual, mystical, but also the most abrasive Neurosis album yet.

"Times Of Grace" is the fourth album of seminal Sludge Metal band Neurosis, the follow up to the masterpiece of theirs and even of the genre as a whole, "Through Silver In Blood". It is quite hard after such a release to keep the expectations as high. But "Times Of Grace", even though it is not as good, is a fantastically executed release, that many people controversially consider their ultimate masterpiece, but I do see why some would love this album as much as these fans do.

Abandoning the huge, smothered reverb of "Silver In Blood", ToG has a much more rough, distorted, sludgy sound, but also more straightforward and maybe not quite as ambitious. The result of this is a claustrophobic sound that is just as scary as the previous album. But the experimentation is very present, with again some unusual instruments for metal here and there, as well as some strange sound effects that accompany the songs, most of them unrecognizable samples. Guitar effects also abound quite a bit, but in a much different way from TSiB.

I've always noticed in Neurosis's music this distorted, almost spiritual feel that makes the band so special sounding; starting from "Souls At Zero", the band always were writing music as it seemed like it was intended to be the soundtrack of a shamanic ritual of native people from South America or something. A very primitive and visceral feel is always felt in their music, but I do think this album in particular is somewhat more spiritual and mystic."Times Of Grace", because of its sound, is an immensely proud album, that always keeps heads up. however, it has its humble moments,meaning moments of shattered beauty, that surprise the listener very much. But these calmer moments are really dreadful and dramatic sounding, in a good way; the vocals of Scott Kelly, are and have always been full of pain, and on this album he proves it like he never did before. The album is quite solid, the more straight- forward structure of the tracks make this characteristic very easy to detect; there are definitely less-build ups, thus most of the time they start fierce and go straight to the point, but of course exceptions are always made. This album remains quite atmospheric because of the experimentation surrounding it and the always used repetition, and so Atmospheric Sludge Metal once again is a great and accurate way to define Neurosis's music.

The songs for me are almost always great, starting from "The Doorway", probably the most intense and abrasive song here. "The Last You'll Know" might be my favorite of the album, its also the most epic track here, and quite possibly the most beautiful too, while "Belief" is the essence of Sludge Metal and the most atmospheric track, and "Away" is comparable to "Strength Of Fates" from their previous album, being a huge build up to a quite intense piece that takes place only in the last few minutes. The title track is also a powerful and crunchy song that is worth mentioning. Even the interludes are very well done, and should not be underrated; they're always somewhat hypnotic, and very interesting in their nature.

A splendid release, something that is essential to listen to if you're into Sludge Metal. One of Neurosis' most personal albums, full of character and spirit, and that sometimes all you need for an album to work.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#536533)
Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2011 | Review Permalink

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