|Origin||Oakland, California, U.S.|
Neurosis is an American avant-garde metal band based in Oakland, California. It was formed in 1985 by vocalist and guitarist Scott Kelly, bassist Dave Edwardson, and drummer Jason Roeder, initially as a hardcore punk band. Steve Von Till joined in 1989, replacing Chad Salter as second guitarist and vocalist. Beginning with their third studio album Souls at Zero (1992), the band developed a unique musical style crucial to the emergence of the post-metal and sludge metal genres.
Neurosis' lineup stabilized in 1995 with the addition of Noah Landis, who replaced Simon McIlroy on keyboards and electronics. That same year they formed the experimental music group Tribes of Neurot and in 1999 the record label Neurot Recordings. As of 2018, the band has released 12 studio albums, including a 2003 collaboration with Jarboe, and has garnered critical recognition. The BBC credited them with taking "heavy music to previously unimaginable spaces ... [and shaping] metal's definitive response to the 21st century."
In 1986 Chad Salter was added on second guitar, and in 1990, Simon McIlroy joined the band as a synthesizer/sampler. There have only been a few changes in the lineup of Neurosis' musicians since band's inception. In 1989 guitarist/vocalist Chad Salter was replaced by Steve Von Till, and in 1995 Noah Landis, a childhood friend of Dave Edwardson, replaced Simon McIlroy as keyboardist.
With The Word as Law, Neurosis began to transition from the hardcore punk of Pain of Mind to the more experimental sound of Souls at Zero, which would ultimately form the basis for post-metal. Neurosis' signature sound came into full force with Enemy of the Sun, with The Quietus observing that "at the time few could have predicted this black hole of agonizingly precise metal riffs, unnerving backmasking, industrial folkisms and extensive sampling".
In 1996, Neurosis attracted mainstream attention with its Relapse Records debut, Through Silver in Blood and subsequent tour with Pantera. In 1999, Neurosis released Times of Grace, which was designed to be played synchronously with Grace, an album released by Neurosis' ambient side project, Tribes of Neurot.
In the early 2000s, the band founded their own independent record label, Neurot Recordings, which, in addition to releasing material from Neurosis and its associated projects, signed several other artists.
Beginning with A Sun That Never Sets, Neurosis began incorporating clean vocals and acoustic instrumentation into its sound. Allmusic described this change as an "aesthetic sea change". 2004's The Eye of Every Storm expanded upon this change by incorporating more slow moments and ambient textures into the mix.
The band released their ninth studio album Given to the Rising on May 8, 2007 through Neurot Records. On this album Neurosis re-incorporated a more aggressive approach into their music once again, and the album was well received by critics.
The band performed at Roadburn 2016, with Brooklyn Vegan's Ian Cory writing that "once the house lights came up it was hard to justify watching anything else." This was part of their series of shows performed in celebration of their 30th anniversary as a band.
From 1990 to 1993, Adam G. Kendall was recruited to create visuals and perform live with the band. Following his departure from touring, Pete Inc. took over the job, although Kendall continued to contribute visuals for the band until as late as 1997. Kendall also shot the footage for the "Locust Star" video. Josh Graham took over live visuals in early 2000 as Pete wasn't "cutting the mustard" (in the words of Steve Von Till), and created album artwork for 2004's The Eye of Every Storm, 2007's Given to the Rising, and 2012's Honor Found in Decay, as well as re-designs for the reissues of Souls at Zero and Enemy of the Sun. Graham and Neurosis amicably parted ways in late November 2012 via an announcement on the band website.
Often experimental and psychedelic in nature, the visuals have added to the reputation of Neurosis' live performances. Many of the visuals for their tours supporting Through Silver in Blood can be found in Ken Russell's film Altered States. Other images are included in the enhanced portion of the Sovereign E.P, and on the A Sun That Never Sets DVD video release. The majority of the DVD release was directed by Josh Graham, with an additional video by Chad Rullman.
Neurosis emerged as a hardcore punk band, performing a blend of hardcore and heavy metal inspired by British punk and described as crust punk or crossover. However, already their second album The Word as Law (1990) introduced some elements of avant-garde music and sludge metal, a genre which was emerging as a fusion of hardcore and doom metal. Thereafter, the band developed a unique sound; Greg Moffitt of the BBC wrote that through a "process of evolution and refinement" beginning with Souls at Zero (1992) and culminating in Through Silver in Blood (1996), they "[took] heavy music to previously unimaginable spaces and, in the process, shape[d] what has thus far been metal's definitive response to the 21st century." The style Neurosis pioneered has been named post-metal, characterised by an "expansive, progressive and often apocalyptic" sound "adding alien sounds, oddball instrumentation and atmospheric depth to [the] viscerally crushing approach" of sludge metal. The band's sound has also been described as experimental/avant-garde metal, doom metal,post-hardcore,industrial metal,drone metal,stoner metal,psychedelic metal,progressive metal,alternative metal and extreme metal, and as employing elements of folk. Steve Huey of AllMusic called it as a blend of industrial, metal, and alternative rock rooted in sludge metal, while Kory Grow of Rolling Stone called it a mix of "metal, punk, sludge and avant-garde experiments."
When asked what the band's influences are in a 2000 interview, Scott Kelly stated: "Mainly ourselves at this point, but our foundation ranges through Black Flag, Pink Floyd, Die Kreuzen, Amebix, Jimi Hendrix, King Crimson, The Melvins, Celtic Frost and, of course, Hank Williams." In 2007, Steve Von Till stated that lyrically he and Kelly are inspired by literature, alluding to writers such as Cormac McCarthy, Jack London, and Paul Bowles.
Souls At Zero was a game-changing album, not just for Neurosis but for the entire metal genre. It's one of the records where the rules were changed and a new order established
There is an aggression here that seems to have been kept in restraint for a few years and has returned now to claim its proper place.
alt-metal is a far-reaching term that has been used to describe everyone from Hammerlock to Neurosis to Ministry to Limp Bizkit