Neurosis’ Fire Still Burns: Fires Within Fires, Reviewed

Neurosis have been a part of this world for an almost unheard of 30 years, and by this point in their career they mean so many things to so many people that it would be hard to accurately sum up the band’s influence in words. Perhaps their closest peers in terms of longevity and importance are Metallica, but for Neurosis there have never been any of the more regrettable Metallica moments; no albums that desperately reach out for the mainstream, no stretch of albums widely regarded as their dark period, and certainly no chunk of their career that is worth forgetting. Neurosis have consistently put out “good” to “classic” albums their entire existence, none of which sounds like it’s predecessor, so the release of new Neurosis album is a pretty big deal. Can a band 30 years old really add to their legacy, or will they tarnish it? Have they finally started to coast?

It should probably come as no surprise that, 30 years on, Neurosis are by no means resting on their laurels. On the contrary, even: Fires Within Fires may well be the strongest they’ve released in their later years. While a lot of their recent albums have seen the band embracing their folksier side, Fires Within Fires sticks with a more primal approach that will remind many of Times of Grace or Through Silver in Blood. Unlike those albums though, this one spends very little time building or setting you up. Fires Within Fires goes for the throat, or at least as “for the throat” as Neurosis gets.


The band has not forgotten their softer, more exploratory side. Those moments are here in spades, they just don’t seem to last as long as they used to. Everything here seems trimmed down to bare minimum, no section nor song overstays its welcome, no extended feedback sections or extended acoustic intros. To call the album lean would be an unfair assessment because while each song is relatively short by Neurosis standards, they all still contain the same amount of depth and complexity we’ve come to expect from the band.

“Bending Light” starts in a slow, mellow drone, the guitar’s otherworldly tone bringing a simple but catchy melody that slowly fades until, on the brink of silence, one of those classic distorted Neurosis riffs kicks in. Scott Kelly, his voice aged like a fine wine, snarls over top “Peeling the skin away / reveals the heart” as the rest of the band crashes like a violent wave. That violence is counterbalanced with all but the briefest respites of beauty. The hefty main riff of “A Shadow Memory” is simplified and stripped of it’s distortion a few minutes in and is transformed to one of the more wonderfully reflective moments on the album.

The closing one-two punch of “Broken Ground” and “Reach” are perhaps the most melodic songs on the album and also the most memorable. “Broken Ground” could easily be in the upper echelon of the band’s catalog, combining everything the band has ever done into one nearly 9 minute hydra. From somber entrance, to ragged-yet-melodic Scott Kelly croon, to the absolutely fist pumping riffs and it’s final descent into oblivion. It’s a song that displays Neurosis at their absolute best.

The incredible production of long time partner Steve Albini isn’t wholly unexpected, but still helps to elevate the material. The bass is warm and always present, easily picked out even in the albums most chaotic moments, and Jason Roeder makes his presence known without ever feeling overpowering. Meanwhile the guitars are the nastiest they’ve sounded in years and thicker than the base of a redwood. Everything is so clear and forward that if you listen with a decent set of headphones or speakers you’ll swear the band is playing in front of you.

It’s borderline unreal that three decades into their existence Neurosis are still making incredible and affecting music. Music that’s still relevant and that people can get excited about. Maybe the band will decide to call it a day and end their career on an incredibly high note, but I can’t imagine that being the case. Fires Within Fires shows that this Oakland quintet is still burning bright and should be for a long while.

5 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell


Fires Within Fires comes out September 23rd. You can preorder it here.

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Published on: September 20, 2016

Filled Under: Metal, Reviews

Views: 800

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  • Eliza

    Three more days … Just three more days…

    • Eliza

      What a beautiful sight.

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    for some reason, you tube videos are very eager to advertise suboxone to me

    • Howard Dean

      I get the 2017 Chevy Equinox.

      I’d rather have the suboxone.

      • Óðinn

        To be fair, the Chevy Equinox is the Suboxone of mid-size crossover SUVs.

        • My sister has one. They are pretty killer for a Chevy product. Wouldbuy/10

          • Óðinn

            Glad she/you like(s) it. I actually don’t know anything about them. Hope you are doing well, George Lynch.

          • Hope you are well, too! I love reading your snarky rebuttals btw.

  • I like the idea that they stripped down and scaled everything back a bit. Strange that there’s no advance tracks to chew on yet.

    • Leif Bearikson

      Yea, they said that preview vid was all they were going to release. I imagine probably because its a very brief album by Neurosis standards. 5 songs and 40 minutes

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    In relation to your opening paragraph: I remember a Mastodon interview once in which fans sent in questions, one of the questions being “when are you guys going to stop sounding like Neurosis?” Mastodon replied “Why would we want to stop that? Neurosis is awesome”

    Excellent review Mr. Bearikson!

    • Eliza

      I know about that, it’s pretty funny, though I don’t think that Mastodon sounds like Neurosis that much. They were obviously influenced by them, but they aren’t a copy.

  • xengineofdeathx

    Probably my favorite band besides Metallica. But even more consistent like Leif said. Can’t wait to sink into this album.

  • Anyone seen Cybro of late?

    • Elegant Gazing Globe

      I saw him at Bdubs last night, with your mom, huehuehue

      • *aggressively farts w/ laughter*

        • Elegant Gazing Globe

          last I saw of him he was peeling outta the parking lot in his F150, but your mom was still there cuz:

  • Scrimm

    Lost track of this band after Times of Grace. Keep meaning to check some stuff out, never do.

    • W.

      I love Times of Grace.

      • Scrimm

        I liked it too. Not really sure why I stopped listening.

  • Óðinn

    I haven’t heard this yet, but I’m looking forward to my first listen. I put Neurosis in a category with bands like Enslaved and Converge, not necessarily in terms of similarity in sound but because they’ve consistently put out quality material over a period of time. Thanks, Leif Bearikson.

  • *still has never listened to Neurosis*

    • Eliza

      It’s time to get caught up then.

    • Sir Tapir The Based

      That’s a paddlin’

  • Waynecro

    Neurosis has never really clicked with me (I know, I know: I’m a bad metalhead). Perhaps Fires within Fires will be the Neurosis album that finally holds my attention. Or not. Whatever.

    • Same here man.

      • Waynecro

        I appreciate what Neurosis has accomplished and the positive influence the band has had on so many metal musicians; however, whenever I put on a Neurosis album, I feel like I’m waiting for something to happen the whole time, and nothing ever happens.

    • I’m a fringe listener, but they’ve influenced so many bands and they absolutely blew me away live when I saw them live many years ago.

    • Never clicked with me either. It’s those cookie monster vocals I can’t get past.

    • NDG

      I’m a massive fan but I understand why people don’t really get into them.

  • Jack Rabbit

    Cool to hear parts sound like Through Silver in Blood, the riffs on that album were so awesome

  • W.

    Solid review. I loved Honor Found in Decay and look forward to cramming this into me.