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[LIVE REVIEW] Neurosis

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Barely three hours in the city after a massive 17-hour journey to this country, and I found myself home once again at my favourite venue in Sydney; The Manning Bar, waiting to see the mighty Neurosis. Having been blown away by one of their oldest albums Through Silver In Blood quite a few years ago, and having never seen them live, there was no doubt that the night was going to be astounding. 30 years and probably one of the most influential, diverse and dynamic bands out there, Neurosis has maintained their reputation over the years, of being the pioneers of a  unique style of metal.

As people gathered in the compact comfort of the venue, the opening band for the night and one that I was really intrigued to see, came marching on stage, with sombre faces and an objective in mind, preparing to unleash something powerful on the unsuspecting crowd. DISPOSSESSED, the centre of heated discussion and controversy in the metal scene currently, represent those people who couldn’t and cannot speak up for themselves and voice their opinions.  What began with a spoken word intro, vocalist and guitarist Birrugan Dunn-Velasco had everyone’s attention from the get-go, getting looks of surprise, awe and shock. The moment began, there was nothing but silence in a room filled with heavy metal fans. Confrontation was at an absolute peak as his voice dripping with disgust, disdain and passion, filled the air telling people exactly what he thought of this ‘virus that is Australia’. “All that you live upon was stolen from us, all that you own upon was destroyed from us. Everyday, is Invasion day to us.” That was enough to silence a room of otherwise loud metalheads, forced to listen to the sheer truth from someone who has experienced the undeniable hardships of colonialism and it’s aftermath.

There is much to say about this band and my first impression of them live. Musically, the band exuberate an incredible passion for their cause and the reason they create music; it is undoubtedly, to spread a message and to make people understand what they feel. With songs in both English and a native Aboriginal language, they really know how to grab the attention of their listeners. Easiest way to describe DISPOSSESSSED? Goddamn heavy. Every song packs in a solid punch and really reflects the band’s beliefs wth it’s heavy, lingering drones, and sludgy, dissonant tones that were hypnotic. You couldn’t really take your eyes or ears off the band for even a moment, harbouring the feeling that you might miss out on something key in their entire performance. Guitarist Serwah Attafuah was churning out some really fat-toned riffs adding to the sheer magnitude of the music while drummer Jarrod Smith kept the band together with maddening rhythmic grooves and fast-tempo beats, seemingly being the backbone to DISPOSSESSED’s music. The are definitely unapologetic and important, tags that they have rightly earned!

Everyone needed a breather after DISPOSSESSED and it was a good way to process all that we had just witnessed. As the minutes ticked by, the lights dimmed, and in a no-bullshit manner, Neurosis came on stage to much applause and cheer, only to break into ‘Lost‘, their first song of an incredibly memorable performance. Without any of the usual ‘entertain-the-crowd’ banter, the metal veterans forged through an absolute treasure trove of a set that saw tracks mainly from their latest album ‘Fire within Fires‘ but also classics from their first few albums including ‘The Web‘ and ‘Takeahnase‘ from Souls at Zero and ‘At the End of the Road‘ from Given to the Rising. However, when my all-time favourite Neurosis song came on with that haunting intro, I knew that it would be the most memorable part of my evening. ‘Locust Star‘ is easily one of the best songs ever written let alone one of the best songs this band has ever created and pretty much defines their heavy, straightforward and unpredictable style of music.

One of my favourite aspects of Neurosis’ performance was the keys and synth magician Noah Landis who went absolutely apeshit on stage and clearly proved how important he is in creating the gripping layers in the music. The band, currently celebrating their 30th year anniversary, proved on the night, why they’ve been able to make it work for 30 years: no bullshit, pure dedication and all focus directed at the music. With a majestic presence that will have you drop your jaw a fair few times, the level of intensity when they play live, is unbelievable as is their onstage chemistry and the pro level of musicianship. Two hours of otherworldly music with an array of elements ranging from heavy synthesized electronic sounds  to samples, shoegazey drones and of course skull-crushing riffs. The combined vocals of Steve von Till and Scott Kelly proved to be monstrous, bassist Dave pitching in wth his deadly low growls in the background amidst the sounds of his heavy chugging.

At one of the best shows the Manning Bar has ever seen, it was indeed a night of flawless, unrelenting heavyness, Neurosis’ passion when they played,  an inspiration to anyone who loves music.

 

 

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