NEUROSIS is game-changing and all-consuming. Its members are individually proficient and confident in their expression, yet certainly far from the realm of virtuosity. NEUROSIS is a prime example of the whole being greater, far greater, than the sum of its parts. Its members collectively share the same vision and do so with intense devotion. It's a vision that morphs with each summit the band reaches. In the same way that CORROSION OF CONFORMITY started out as a hardcore punk band with recognizable metal roots, NEUROSIS, too, has forged its own unique trail through the wilderness beside the well-beaten path, paving the way for countless followers. With the group's eleventh full-length, "Fire Within Fires", NEUROSIS cleverly rides through the trails it cleared with its own hands commanding more now than ever.
"Fire Within Fires" is a voluminous journey through emotion and massive soundscapes. NEUROSIS hasn't displayed this degree of immediacy and succinctness in expression since the late nineties. The albums is relatively sedated compared to the metallic game-changers "Through Silver in Blood" and "Times of Grace", though no less bombastic in impact. But with that said, the group's heaviest eras do indeed show themselves at various points, including the bulk of one of the album's highlights: "Fire Is the End Lesson". A punchy, stomping riff sets the tone with Scott Kelly's characteristic guttural moaning narrating the proceedings that thicken and build as the song progresses. A spacious, slow riff follows, leading to a more transcendental area fit for trancing out to more than rocking out, and that's all before the song explodes into a noisy frenzy that's as psychedelic as it is sonically murderous. "A Shadow Memory" charges forth with a similar sense of heft but with a much more menacing and lurching delivery.
The unit's power is equally impressive when it's leveraged in a more somber and pensive manner as heard on album closer "Reach", the calmness adequately driven by Kelly and Steve Von Till's gravelly melodic singing. The bold, bomb-diving heavy metal guitars emerging toward song's end climax with a sense of drama that most bands would be too scared to even attempt. NEUROSIS's manipulation of negative space and practice of self-restraint is mesmerizing at times, a part of the entire spiritual experience for some.
"Fire Within Fires" is far from perfect, though. Opener "Bending Light" and later "Broken Ground" are plagued periods of meandering and aimless drifting with mid-paced, plodding riffs and simple rock beats that would have worked if the associated guitar work provided enough substance. A couple of duds on an album are typically forgivable, but we are talking about a five-song release here. In all, however, there is a great deal of powerful artistry to sink your teeth into.