Neurosis Live At High Voltage Festival 2011 Review

Neurosis headlining the Metal Hammer stage at High Voltage 2011


~ Locust Star
~ Given to the Rising
~ End of the Harvest
~ A Season in the Sky
~ At the Well
~ Water is Not Enough
~ Belief
~ At the End of the Road
~ Killing Elk
~ Through Silver in Blood

I am known for my love of Neurosis; you may have already read either one of my interviews with frontman Scott Kelly, the most recent of which took place at the High Voltage festival itself and will be here shortly.

As mentioned with regards to Anathema; some bands should only ever be allowed to perform at night, or at least in the relative darkness of a dingy venue (or Croatian church). Neurosis are not only a band that fall instantly into that category, but it actually beggars belief that it’s conceivable to put Neurosis on a stage in the daylight at all. But, despite this, the opportunity for Neurosis to headline the Metal Hammer stage on the last day allows for undeniably opportune exposure.

Scott Kelly of Neurosis at High Voltage 2011
Scott Kelly: Noise Making Legend

Much like with Anathema, old Jim was a willing attendee who had not seen, or really listened, to much Neurosis before and as he knew it was a great chance, he took it. Whilst it was a nice, warm and breezy summer evening shared with Mr. Beer, the atmosphere wasn’t quite there. It was too ‘open’, too light and far different from the ideal settings for a Neurosis show. Nevertheless, the band slammed straight into ‘Locust Star’ without announcement. There is no Josh (Graham, visual artist) who is clearly not needed when the stage and sunlight would render any visuals a pointless backdrop, rather than the usual blanket that aids the Neurosis experience. My eager-beaver eyes did, however, spot him lurking in the wings on more than one occasion.

Next was ‘Given to the Rising’, the title track from their last album, and it’s a belter of a song. I leered from side-to-side with an enormous grin as they stepped back to the ‘Times of Grace’ album for ‘End of the Harvest’. I hadn’t expected to see ‘A Season in the Sky’ (although I suppose a more accurate statement would be that I’d not pinned many hopes on it) as it’s truly a beautifully epic song from one of my favourite Neurosis albums, ‘The Eye of Every Storm’. At this point I was more or less 90 million miles into the stratosphere and I am pretty sure that it was about this time that my trousers fell off as they blessed the gathering to ‘At the Well’, a new song from their as-yet-untitled upcoming album.

Noah Landis of Neurosis on stage at High Voltage 2011
Noah Landis: Master Of The Keys

Treating us as if we were American kids on Halloween, the band lashed into ‘Water is Not Enough’, another masterpiece from the last album. It was obviously too at this point the gathered crowd were not only thoroughly enjoying themselves, but that no thought was given by anybody about the fact we were missing the legendary Jethro Tull to catch Neurosis (although I am pretty sure there was a moment when you could hear the Tull cut through the …).

‘Belief’ and ‘At the End of the Road’, from ‘Times of Grace’ and ‘Given to the Rising’ respectively preceded the next treat which was yet another new song, ‘Killing Elk’. The music that Neurosis make falls into many categories; Wikipedia describes them as ‘atmospheric sludge’ and ‘atmospheric hardcore’ (isn’t all music arguably atmospheric?) but I like to think of them a ambient-metal band; there are elements of sludge, yes, and the early elements of hardcore remain, but the contrasting extremes of their songs suggest to me that there is more to it than labels; who even cares what ‘genre’ they are? There is a raw power that Neurosis exhibit with their music and it ticks many boxes.

The last song of the day was the equally inspiring title track from ‘Through Silver in Blood’; and it was played with genuine aplomb and vigour. The collective mass of metalheads from the entire festival seemed to have converged together to make the most of the fortuitous experience of catching Neurosis, who in all honesty, rarely make it to these shores. There was no crowd interaction from either Scott or Steve (although perhaps there was a “thank you” here and there) but frankly it’s not needed. There’s no need to incite a mosh-pit and no need to encourage people to headbang; if you’re watching Neurosis, you are absorbed. It’s an experience I thoroughly recommend, but ideally you’ll see them in an atmospheric setting rather than a festival, but nay mind, it was still fantastic. The fact I’d met, chatted and interviewed Scott Kelly again only added some tasty jam to an already tasty slice of toast.



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