Souls At Zero
Review by Allan on August 3, 2002.
“Souls At Zero” is what some people would call the beginning of the Neurosis as we know today. After their two hardcore punk outings (“Pain of Mind” and “The Word As Law”), Neurosis began leaning into a more metal sound. The beginning their journey was clear though, and that was that they weren’t out to be conventional. They accomplished something special with their work, creating a metal sound that was a step ahead of everyone else. “Souls At Zero” is a unique expedition through many twists and turns that still remains up to par with future Neurosis recordings.
Layers upon layers of collective instruments make for one intense recording, and at the same time a very unique one. That’s what “Souls At Zero” is - unique and complexly composed. Unfortunately for some, there is more to it than that. It’s dark, heavy, beautiful, contemplative, and deep. It takes those elements of the music and uses them to accent the other important factors – emotions, passion, atmosphere, and power. Nothing is half-assed on this album. The emotions are truly expressed with a deep passion and display themselves with utmost realism. The band displays the power to perform their heavy brand of music, creating support for the other elements. The atmosphere is never restless and remains consistent for the entire duration. I suspect the band set out for a distant goal and pushed themselves beyond the limits in all the aforementioned areas, as it certainly shows with each listen to “Souls At Zero”.
Besides the underlying elements of the music, the music itself is of course something to be discussed. On “Souls At Zero”, things are much more riff oriented and the music is composed with less repetition in mind, as opposed to the bands later works. Most of the drumming is very apocalyptic and often very tribal. It stands out a lot farther than most other bands, and can often be seen as another layer packed inside with the other sounds. The vocals are screamed with the power and emotion that was spoken of earlier. Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly intertwine their vocal styles with much respect to the other and create an interesting display. All the other instruments, from keyboards and piano to even some horns, are very well placed and paid attention to with painstaking detail. Things were different here than they are now for the Neurosis, but that doesn’t mean they were any less effective or less important.
Bottom Line: “Souls At Zero” is one amazing album for Neurosis, especially so early in their career. In a matter of a few listens this album should enrapture anyone interested in intelligent heavy music.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 9 out of 10